Tips for Building Community Online
If you want to build community online, the number one question would be why? What is the purpose? Many people want more engagement, but they don't have a clear idea of how to get it, nor what they will do with it when it arrives. As with many projects, creating a flow chart or storyboard is essential. It is here you can work out all potential problems as they arise.
Once you have worked out the problems, the challenge is deciding where to build your community. There are many choices, such as building an interactive blog, or building a following on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. In this article, our focus is on Facebook and 9 tips you can use to improve your marketing.
1. Get Your Facebook Contacts onto a Marketing List
While Facebook is a useful tool, your number one goal should be getting your contacts off Facebook and onto an email marketing list. Why? Facebook can be compared to leased land, i.e. it's not yours. If Facebook were to cease to exist, all your engagement vanishes with it, unless you have found a way to get people to sign up for your list.
And why would you want a list, anyway? A list gives you the opportunity to market to the same people over and over, quite possibly for years. Some providers are Constant Contact, Aweber, Mailchimp, etc.
2. When Using Pages
Create an eye-catching image which draws the attention of your viewers.
More importantly, make use of the Contact Us button as you see here and use that to drive people to your email list as per tip number one.
One of the best ways to build community is through interactivity. In the following tips, you will learn different ways of interacting with your audience. Much of this requires experimentation, so don't be afraid of trying something new.
4. Facebook Live Video
This has been a major advancement, and allows you to create engagement, quickly.
As an example, I created a group called "Silencing the Noisy Mind." Once I launched it, I began doing Facebook Live videos. By the 4th one, I two comments. One was from a former friend who became and enemy (time for some blocking).
The second post was from a woman who had been referred to my Facebook Live videos. She told me she liked my presenting skills and offered me the opportunity to do a TEDx talk in my area. This example demonstrates one of the hidden benefits of social media. You never know who is watching. The right contact can put your name in the spotlight, quickly.
5. Use BeLive.tv
In addition to Facebook Live, you can stream to video by using technologies such as OBS (which is free) or BeLive TV, which requires a membership.
BeLive, as an example, makes use of Facebook Live, though it allows you to create side-by-side interviews and have up to four people on a show at a time.
6. Make Use of Units
A new feature in Facebook Groups is the addition of Units.
With units, you can place important posts in one section, create an agenda or curriculum, track completion of posts and help people learn about your group and what you offer.
7. Use Events
A powerful feature in Facebook is the ability to create Events.
Events allow you to broadcast your message to your audience (there is a free or paid option) and you can broadcast your message to individuals or share within other groups. This can be a powerful way to build your brand.
8. Use Canva for Image Posts
When you use the software, take advantage of the pre-defined image sizes for your posts and create them accordingly.
One great site for stock photography (if you choose to use it) is Pixabay. As you can see, this is an image with a high-contrast background, which makes the text easier to see. Also note the presence of the URL of the post. Some people will type out your URL, so if you have it, it can make a big difference to your results. And, if the group allows it, add the URL to the comments section.
9. Track Your Results with Insights
These are available at the top of Pages. Insights gives you an idea of how well your pages are doing, as well as suggestions from Facebook on how to improve your results. If you have done any promotions, you will see how many people you reached and how many people clicked on your links. All of this is valuable in growing your audience.
As you can see, Facebook offers you many marketing tools, which give you access to multiple ways of building your audience. The challenge is to find out which methods work for you. All of these will help you build community online (and off, by building a list).
About the Author
Nathan Segal has been working as a freelance writer for 18 years. In that time he has published more than 1,000 articles and has written 9 books. You can learn more about him at http://NathanSegal.org.