How Are You Building Your Community?

7 tips for finding dedicated audience members

Building online communities is a challenge faced by an array of professionals, from audience development personnel to content marketers.

And although there are great tools to utilize like social media and search engine optimized content, stepping into the process of building an online community can be daunting if not properly planned.

In a recent article from Poynter, a seven-step outline for effective community management planning was given. The steps listed below are from the article, with the addition of my thoughts on each step.

Seven steps for community building

Community Building Step #1: Define community goals – It’s important to begin with a focus. Many content marketers and online publishers want to attract more website traffic and experience more conversions of casual visitors to email subscribers. Is this the goal you have for your community? Perhaps you want to enhance the quality of your community by building upon visitor’s time on site and the frequency in which they share your content. All of these are respectable goals that can lead to stronger, more engaged communities.

Community Building Step #2: Profile your target community – Using analytics can help you determine the content that brings the most people to your website. Is this content what your main focus is about as an organization? If so, you are on the right track. If not, you should work on targeting your community differently. Think about what keeps your audience up at night – the pressing questions that they seek answers for. Then, do extensive keyword research to see what keyword terms are associated with this content.

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Community Building Step #3: Identify influencers – Do you know of individuals who like your content and have a lot of loyal followers? These are the type of community members you want to reach and stay in content with, so they can endorse your content to their list of followers.

Community Building Step #4: Create social media-friendly content – The importance of creating great content should not come as a surprise to publishers. However, some forget to promote other great content that isn’t their own. Use social media to share great content, both yours and from others, and work to start conversations around it. Give opinions, ask questions and show the passion you have for the subject.

Community Building Step #5: Optimize content for sharing – The article from Poynter lists five great questions to consider while optimizing content for sharing:

-Are buttons for sharing on every post?

-Are tweets short enough that followers can retweet with your name intact?

-Do articles have strong calls to action for sharing?

-Are headlines shareable on their own?

-Is the content strong enough to share?

Community Building Step #6: Create interaction guidelines – It’s important to have consistency and an understanding on addressing issues that may arise for your organization. All community managers should have a list of best practices guidelines for addressing issues. This list can be update anytime a new issue arises.

Community Building Step #7: Monitor the community, then improve – Beyond tracking statistics with analytics programs, it’s important to listen and ask questions of your audience. This will help you determine ways to improve upon your community.

What strategies have you used to build a community? If you have insight to share, please post it in the comments section below.

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