Building Loyalty in a Virtual Community.

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Building Loyalty in a Virtual Community.

Most companies use Social Media in an attempt to build a following of loyal customers and brand advocates that will buy the product, support the values and grow the brand by sharing posts and tweets with friends and family.

The question is; how do you get the people who follow your posts and tweets to buy from you, or, more importantly to choose you above your competitors? How do you build an arm of brand ambassadors or even better, evangelists, who will actively sell what you do to their friends?

Most of my entrepreneurial clients don’t have money to spend on brand building activities; they are almost always sales centered, but the problem with posts that are focused on driving sales is that they alienate customers if they are not entertaining or relevant to their need at that moment.

Here are a few tips on growing a community, not at the expense of selling:

Step 1 – Get Followers

The first step to building a community is getting ‘like’s’ in Twitter or ‘followers’ in Facebook. You can do this in a number of ways: you can promote posts, create a Facebook advert or beg friends and family to subscribe.

You want your followers to be interested in what you do, so focus on getting like-minded people onto your page, otherwise you will spam them with irrelevant posts.

Don’t be tempted to buy like’s from Facebook, while it’s cheap to do, they are worthless and people will notice that you suddenly went from 1,000 to 10,000 likes in one week.

Step 2 – Know their Mindset

Before posting in LinkedIn, give some thought to the relevance of the message to the people who are using LinkedIn: are they in a business frame of mind? Yes. So keep the post related to the space they’re in and it will be more likely to have a positive effect.

What mindset are people in when using Facebook? Twitter? YouTube? Talk to the mindset and you will have a better chance of growing your community. Keeping updates relevant to people’s needs will ensure they respond to them in the way you want. So don’t be lazy, do a bit of research before you tweet someone or message them on LinkedIn.

Step 3 – Get Posting

Ideally try to post once a day in Facebook and twice a day in Twitter. Any more and people see you as a spammer and unsubscribe.

Step 4 – Keep it Light Hearted

Don’t drive sales too hard or you’ll lose your customer. Nobody likes posts that are all about product. Make sure your ratio is 70% jokes or fun posts to 30% sales especially in Facebook where people are in a social mindset. Your blogs should always be entertaining; definitely allow your personality and sense of humour to shine through.

Step 5 – Don’t Edit Comments

Certain brands try to filter out negative comments, but unless they are defamatory I’m a fan of keeping them there. What you will eventually find is that your loyal customers will rise to your defense and take out the naysayer at the knees. It’s nice when that happens.

Step 6 – Stay Consistent

It’s not enough to post once in a blue moon, try to post on a regular basis so that you don’t starve your followers. Retweeting is considered lazy if that’s all you do, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing someone else’s posts if they’re interesting. If you read a variety of news or related blogs you’ll always have something to share.

Just remember that you’re sending customers to another brand’s site, so ideally you mix a few of your own blog posts into the flow of communication.

Once you’ve built a loyal following of customers who share you posts, pins and tweets you’ll find the ratio of sales will increase accordingly. Just remember that relevance equals response.


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