14 Tools To Build a Social Community

by Gerry Moran

If you are going to build a social community you need to pay attention to three things. Community. Consideration. Conversation.

So, how do you make a digital neighborhood thrive and work together?

What is a Social Community?

A social community is a network of individuals banded together with a similar need, interest, or context. They consume and share content that adds value to the community. They communicate with each other. They are connected and enabled by social media or digital channels. It would help if you had an audience, content, and social channels to establish a social community.

To build a social community means different things to different people. To some people and brands, a social community is a formal network, like the SAP Community. Others may think of a social gathering as an unstructured place where they can find trustworthy content. Simultaneously, others may think of a community as a small group of powerful influencers—a mutual admiration society of sorts. No matter the definition, each “organization” needs to have content, a context, and conversation to be successful.

14 Observations to Help You Build a Social Community

  1. Do not spam. Stop spamming your social media followers. Instead, add value. Build community by engaging and having a conversation with them.
  1. Begin to measure your social community’s success. The first performance metric for a body is ROA = Return on Awareness
  1. Understand what comes first in community building. You can only create content if you understand the context of the commonality.
  1. Content is royalty in any social community. Content is king and makes the group from the same songbook sing!
  1. Add relevant value to your digital neighborhood. Don’t overlook context while blindly cranking out content. Make it count and give value to your community.
  1. Understanding your social society. Listen to your audience and create content that aligns with what you hear.
  1. Your audience wants something, and it’s not always new content. New content doesn’t always matter. What matters is a point of view, opinion, and discussion. Identify what your audience wants to hear.
  1. Awareness enables engagement. If you value engagement, then you value awareness. These two metrics are the most important gears that crank out social media ROI.
  1. Engagement increases the value of the community. Engagement is the proxy of value. With enough engagement comes the conversations that could count — a sale, a deeper relationship, a speaking gig.
  1. There is no right-size social community. Healthy ecosystems come in all sizes. You just have to feed it to keep it healthy.
  1. Your social community is like a fishing hole full of knowledge and conversations. Fish where the fish are, and you’ll catch something, for sure.
  1. Get the dialogue going when nothing is going on. It’s pretty crazy if only 14% of top brands respond to inbound tweets. And, 71% of all tweets get no response.
  1. SEO drives visibility and awareness. You have to use the words people are searching for to be found
  1. Always consider the native behavior of community members. Leverage native behavior members. It’s natural, authentic, and set up to grow.

3 Tools to Help You Build a Better Ecosystem

Do you have other ways to build a social community? Please share in the space below or reach out to me at gerry@marketingthink.com.

NOTE: This blog post was originally published on February 10, 2013 as 20 Things You Should Know to Grow Your Social Community. It was refreshed on February 11, 2021.

Gerry Moran is a social media and content marketing strategist who's worked for large global brands and digital agencies. He's spent significant time in hands-on marketing leadership roles with HBO, IKEA, Ralston Purina, Kodak, and numerous digital agencies. He spent his last ten years working at SAP and Cognizant, where he built their content marketing operating models, developed social media training programs, and helped thousands with their LinkedIn makeovers and personal branding strategies.

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