You already know that social media presents many sales, marketing, and customer acquisition opportunities for your business. What you may not be focusing on, however, is building a community of brand followers.

At its heart, social media exists to foster a sense of community between users. United by common history, shared values, or similar interests; there is no better place to create a community of brand followers than social media.

Select the Right Social Media Channel

On social media, a common phrase you’ll hear often is that “content is king,” and it’s true. Choosing the right channel is important, and largely based on the way you want to interact with your fans and customers. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “choosing the right tool for the right job.” For social media, this is especially true.

For example, YouTube is great for sharing or streaming videos but not much else. If you aren’t going to be generating this type of content, it’s probably best to stay off YouTube as the channel won’t do much for you in the long run.

Likewise, Twitter is great for short, frequent posts but not for long form articles, and Instagram is great for sharing images, but not for videos. Keep the strengths of the platform in mind when you decide where to focus your social efforts.

For small and medium-sized businesses, there’s a lot of pressure to be everywhere at once. With dozens of social media platforms to choose from, it can become overwhelming. Rather than try to stretch yourself too thinly, select one or two social media channels that are most appropriate for the content you’re generating, and stick to it. You can always expand later.

Create Your Content

To begin, start creating content and posting it to your channel(s). Blogs, images, videos, whichever content you’re most suited towards, start creating and getting it out there. The type of content you create is up to you, however certain industries may naturally fit into a certain category.

If your business is constantly creating new products, holding events, or anything that can be well represented by picture or video, this is always great content to share. How-to guides and product demonstration videos and infographics are also successful. In general, content that is visually engaging is more successful.

Many companies, from Apple to Hubspot, are authoring company blogs as well. Company blogs offer an opportunity to share your thoughts on your business, product, or industry. You can draw on your own personal experiences and relate them to your audience in a way that is engaging and easily shared across social channels.

Grow Your Following

Once you’ve set up your social media accounts, it’s time to start populating your pages with people! Invite your existing contact lists to connect with you and share their own images, posts, and experiences with your brand.

For organic growth, creating engaging content may be enough. Incentivizing your followers by offering discounts, awards, or promotions based on their activity (such as sharing your content with others) will help boost your organic reach.

To kick things up, most social media platforms offer some degree of paid advertising, many with advanced targeting metrics. Facebook, for example, allows you to very specifically target your ideal customer based on age, location, interests, profession and more. This can help draw in new followers.

Don’t be content to simply post and forget it. Engage with your customers. Gather their feedback. Ask questions about their experiences and genuinely listen to their answers, even if they offer some harsh criticism. This is part of what your channel is there for, and your audience will appreciate the interactions.

Don’t be afraid to scope out the competition and see what they’re doing. What channels are they most active on? What type of content are they generating, and which gets the most attention from their followers?

This doesn’t mean your recipe for success is to simply copy what the competition is doing, however you should make it a point to regularly check their activity and see if there’s anything you can take away from it.

What The Community Means for You

Your community is largely comprised of past, present, and perhaps even future customers. These individuals are united by a shared connection with your brand. Properly appreciated, they may turn into super fans who take it upon themselves to introduce others to your company.

Social media is a wonderful tool for growing a brand following. Like any other tool, however, what you get out of it depends largely on what you put into it.

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