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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Building a Social Media Community for Your Brand

by Peter Townsend (writer), London, UK, November 29, 2013

Credit: By Brian Solis and JESS3
Social Media Brandsphere

Harnessing the power of social media to build your business brand by creating a sense of community.

Have you heard about Thinspiration yet? If you haven't you can read about it here. This worrying new trend has recently been identified by doctors in Oklahoma. Women are using Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to post quotes and pictures to inspire one another to engage in extreme weight loss. The weight loss is achieved through a dangerous combination of over-exercising and barely eating. Thinspiration eventually results in patients with protruding hip bones, or ribs that can be seen through the skin.
There have always been people with eating disorders. The difference with thinspiration is that it has managed to harness the power of online social media to achieve results in the real offline everyday world.

Dr Megan Scears, an eating disorder specialist who regularly treats patients puts it this way;

"It's like a cult-like thing among these patients where they're providing a lot of support for each other and encouraging each other,"

Can this social media community be used to achieve positive results?

The question that those of us who use social media for business need to answer is this:

What is it that makes the images and advice that these women receive via social media channels so powerful that they are willing to endanger their health? Is there a way we can harness the same power and apply it for more useful purposes?
I believe that Doctor Scears has some clear insights here when she says:
"It's like a cult-like thing among these patients where they're providing a lot of support for each other and encouraging each other,"
“it's a world the girls see as safe. A world where others think the same way they do. “

What Doctor Scears is drawing attention to here is the mutual support aspect of social media. The feeling of camaraderie that comes from sharing in a common purpose, and common goals. In essence these women have created a community for themselves with a single purpose. They all want to be very thin. In order to achieve their goal they work together to inspire and encourage each other towards their common purpose. They have built for themselves a self-contained community that reinforces their chosen goal every moment of the day. With any other objective this dedication would be commendable. The problem for those involved in Thinspiration is that the goal they are all working towards is unhealthy and potentially life threatening. Imagine the effect if you could take this same methodology, this same idea of common goals and purpose and turn it in a more healthy direction, by using it to grow a community around your business.

Harness the power of social media

Is is possible to create the same self-affirming, goal reinforcing community focused around your business?
I believe that it is. Communities naturally come together around a common purpose, often as in the case of Thinspiration it is a perceived problem that is shared by all members of the group. If you can market your product as the solution to an existing problem you will have taken the first step towards building a community.

Once you have a group of people interested in your product you need to maintain their interest. The simplest way to do this is to explain every way that your product meets your customers needs. Submit blog posts, status updates, tweets, and info-graphics explaining in detail to your prospective customers how each aspect of your product meets a different area of their need.

Build the community. This is the key area that is often forgotten by those attempting to promote their business on social media. The social part of social media is critical. If it is just you posting about your product then you do not yet have a community built around your brand. At best you have a group of followers who may soon start to get bored with your constant product promotion and unsubscribe from your feed or page.

The key to sustained success with social media is community
Get other people involved. Host contests, actively ask for feedback, make yourself available to answer your customers questions online. Seek to reach out and draw others in to interact with your brand. Find out what people love and hate about your brand, and then use that information to improve what you do. Maybe even do a little investigation to find out what other problems your customers have and develop new products and services to meet those needs as well.

Social media really can be used to develop are community around your brand, but you have to be prepared to put the effort in to build that community. It isn't possible to post a few tweets or an occasional Facebook status update and expect people to find you online. If you are serious about using social media to build your brand then be prepared to make the effort. You can either manage your social media profiles in-house, or if that seems like too much effort try hiring a specialist firm to maintain and enhance your brand reputation online. If you take some time and build the community then you will see positive results for your brand through social media.



About the Writer

I was born in London, England and have travelled extensively in both Africa and Asia. I met my wife in Philippines where we married in 2005. We are now resident in south east London where I am working full time online as a social media manager and freelance blogger.
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