How to Build a CommunityContributed by: Harrison Kratz

Recently, I gave a talk at Syracuse University during their #140cuse conference on building cause-passionate armies. As you can guess, the talk focused on how people and brands can build communities from the ground up in social media by using some key marketing/communications fundamentals that extend much further than social media.

While preparing for the talk, I realized that we continuously read articles with tips for community management, rather than building. However, most of us are tasked with being the architects for a brand’s online presence and community rather than managing big brands and pages. So, I thought I should elaborate on my talk a little more and offer my tips for building a new community from the ground up.

Define your presence and purpose
A common mistake that social media managers and coordinators fall into is trying to be everything to their community in order to satisfy their buzzword quota (i.e. engaging, authentic, create a two-way dialogue) without focusing on one message or approach. Like any business, cause, or establishment, your community will come together because of a core benefit or value that it is clear throughout their involvement in your community.

To build a community, you have to find a focus in your messaging and then communicate that message effectively to your community. It is a lot easier for people to gather around one core idea rather than trying to interact with a million different ideas and approaches.

Pull on their heartstrings
This may sound sappy, but is still important to a founding strategy. You have to create content and a message that resonates with your potential community members. When you’re Coca-Cola, getting engagement on your posts is not nearly as difficult because you have over 40 million fans and many more beyond Facebook. However, when you just launched your product/page you don’t have the luxury of automatic interaction. Thus, you have to create content that will inspire a human emotion and ultimately, an action.

Facebook documents the actions taken on your page as Stories. This is fitting because when creating content, you want to create a story that your community can be a part of and share with their communities.

Build the Community You Want to Join
When building a marketing strategy, you should always ask yourself, “Is this how I want to be marketed to?” This fully applies to building a community. If you build a community that you aren’t thrilled about, how are other people supposed to be? In everything you do, whether it be on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, try to create a social space that you would feel comfortable interacting in, regardless of your role or status.

Harrison-KratzWhat have you done to build your community? Do you have any tips to add?

Bio: Harrison Kratz is the community manager for the online mba program, MBA@UNC, from UNC Kenan-Flagler, which also offers one of the nation’s leading executive mba programs. Harrison also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive.

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