You have a Facebook fanpage, a twitter and now a blog or are at least thinking about a blog for your dealership. Now what? It’s time to start creating your own online community. Why? To help establish credibility, drive more traffic to your website, increase your rankings among the search engines, increase customer loyalty and retention, engage with your prospects… I mean the benefits really are endless!
Start with these tips to help grow your online community:
Research – Start by seeing what’s out there in your related industries ie. contractors, manufacturer brands, equipment retail businesses, etc. and join those communities. After you join, observe the activity. Note what you like and dislike about the way the community operates, from the platform to the members and the leaders. Even apply it to yourself by noting which communities keep you coming back for more and how they do it.
Also research, how and who are the people online that are having conversations about your business. No matter how much credibility you have established as a business, how much you believe all of your customers LOVE you, etc. it’s important that you at least go out of your way to search out, find, engage with, and thank all the folks who mention you, your space, your vertical, your products, company, or services.
Provide Unique Value –Think about the communities you researched, and then try to figure out that one thing that no one else is offering that you can. One example would be creating a community that’s more specifically focused by doing a little brainstorming.
Note: 80% of all of your interactions online should involve some sort of listening and that can include commenting, retweeting, liking, sharing, etc. and just thanking someone for mentioning you in a post or for sharing something from your page. But when do you promote YOUR business? The other 20% of the time should be focused around content that promotes your products and services. People who participate in Social Media participate not to be exposed to several marketing messages and selling pitches, but to feel a part of community. They keep coming back for more when they find something/information on a page that they can’t necessarily get anywhere else, which emphasizes the importance of providing unique value.
Take Interest in your Fans and Show Them you Care – Like real friends, you cannot just collect them, you need to develop a friendship. It’s also always important to acknowledge any concerns that your members have in terms of the content you are delivering, the frequency you deliver the content, etc. This lets them know that there’s someone actively in charge and always willing to cater to the community members because you as a business cares. Besides acknowledging your fans, ask them questions! By asking questions, you will open up the lines of communication and learn more them.
Be More than Just a Blog – While building your social media community it’s important to think about blogging. Instead of just blogging, by getting to know your fans/followers, you’ll begin to understand what interests them. If you have service repair tips, customer testimonials, new product information that maybe no one else has released—BLOG ABOUT IT! While it’s super-specific and might not allow for a huge following, it IS something unique which will intrigue your prospect and/or customer base.
Be Genuine – Always be genuine on your page. People enjoy other people with personality. Don’t be afraid to unleash that side of you. Just be sure to maintain your professional demeanor and keep your content non-offensive.
Lastly, Don’t Forget to Have Fun! – Find fun photos and images to post that relate to not just your customers but people in general. For example, when it’s Friday, post a funny photo that expresses your excitement for the weekend! Afterall, who DOESN’T love Fridays? You’ll be surprised at just how much engagement relatable posts actually generate.
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