EXCERPT: Without an audience to read, share, and "like" one's content, social marketing is pointless. Instead, companies need to focus on building their communities around like-minded individuals who actually wish to receive their timely updates, say customers, employees, and colleagues. The following are 9 helpful recruiting strategies for building an online community.
Building a REAL online community of friends and followers is one of the most difficult tasks assigned to social media marketers. However, it is also one of the most important.
Without an audience to read, share, and "like" one's content, social marketing is pointless. Instead, companies need to focus on building their communities around like-minded individuals who actually wish to receive their timely updates. By building highly relevant online communities in this fashion, companies are able to develop long-term relationships with their followers, and greatly improve the chances of meeting their social media goals.
Furthermore, when building an online community, I find it best to recruit those already associated with a company and have shown interest in their products and services. Too many times, companies will approach social marketing with the intention of soliciting sales from new customers instead of, what is more likely to happen, soliciting repeat business from past customers. It is for this reason that I encourage businesses to build their online communities around customers and clients, employees, colleagues, and other industry related individuals.
9 Recruiting Strategies for Building an Online Community
The following are 9 helpful recruiting strategies for building an online community:
Tag Your Online Store
This probably comes across as a no-brainer, but one would be surprised as to how often businesses fail to implement social icons onto their sites. I recommend that companies begin their community recruiting strategies by first advertising their social media involvement on their own websites (and blogs). By displaying profile icons for each of their online communities, businesses can further increase their social media exposure to those most interested. This is a simple, yet very effective strategy.
Tag Your (Physical) Store Front
Similar to a business' online store, brick and mortar stores should also be tagged with social media logos and community information. I recommend store owners take advantage of their in-store foot traffic and advertise their social communities through flyers, window decals, indoor and outdoor signage, and bag inserts, as well as on business cards, appointment cards, and cash register receipts. Anything and everything is fair game.
Tag Your Email Signature
If an online company is like most, I would venture to guess that a majority, if not all, of their customer, colleague, and vendor communication is being done through email. It is for this reason that I recommend that every email signature, companywide, be tagged with their social media information. In addition to each person's name, address, and contact information, email signatures should also feature traditional social media icons and link directly to company profiles.
Create a Package Insert
Companies that sell and ship products will often print-out a copy of each order and include it in with their shipment. In addition, I would recommend that package fillers include a second insert that solely focuses on social media recruitment. An insert should explain which social sites their company is active on, how to find and follow, and what benefits exists for customers turned community members.
Create an Invoice Stuffer
Similar to a package insert, an invoice stuffer is a great way to recruit customers into one's social media community. Invoice stuffers work best for those companies which bill for services, rather than sell and ship products. Traditionally, such stuffers are used to advertise company specials, sales and promotions, and updates. I recommend companies create an invoice stuffer insert that solely focuses on social media recruitment, and encourages customers to join their communities.
Update Your 'Call-Waiting' Message
Companies that receive larger than normal call volumes will likely already be using an automated music and/or announcement service for when customers are waiting or are placed on hold. Traditionally, recordings are short and will plug store hours, website services, and ongoing promotions. I recommend that companies create an additional phone announcement which focuses on their social communities and provides callers with information pertinent to them joining.
Update Your 'Thank-You' Page
A 'thank you' page is the final page that a shopper sees when placing an online order. Traditionally, this page is an opportunity for businesses to thank their customers, and share with them specific details regarding their purchase. I have found that this is also a perfect opportunity for social media recruiting. I recommend that businesses dedicate a section of their 'thank you' page to showcasing their social media profiles, and encourage customers to follow along.
Update Your Confirmation Email
It is very common for businesses to email their customers an order confirmation immediately following a purchase. Order confirmations will include a purchase summary, shipping updates, and other pertinent information relating to their order. I recommend that businesses customize this email to also include links to their social media profiles as well as information encouraging customers to join their community.
Create and Send an Email
Most businesses have email marketing strategies already in place. This is the process of marketing to one's customers and followers through the sending of company specials, sales and promotions, and updates. I recommend that businesses take advantage of their current mailing list and create and send specialized emails promoting their involvement on social media sites. Recruiting email subscribers into social media followers is often at times very easy to do, and highly profitable.