Where is Waldo? how to find your online community…

PenguinsFinding an Online Community for Your Business

It used to be that when we talked about a community, we were talking about a physical place in the world where multiple family systems existed in a symbiotic way holding that group together in a geographical location and a relationship built on the necessity of sharing emotionally, physically and mentally with one another. When it came to a business operating within a community, it was easy to identify a target audience.  A business’s community was one in their immediate vicinity who required the products or services that business offered.  Getting a a company’s message out was as simple as creating a few flyers, knocking on a few doors, or pandering to people via television or newspaper ads. Like so many things in life, communities have changed.  Now, when we talk about your community, we are talking about the places your business exists online in a social setting like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the like. Many companies have already jumped on the social media marketing band wagon.  The benefits of engaging with your audience via social media sites is virtually immeasurable.  The problem is, however, there is more to social media marketing than just having a social media presence online.  A big part of ensuring your online marketing campaigns will be successful is correctly identifying your online community. Setting out to identify your company’s online community means knowing what social networking platforms your audience relies on.  Once you have identified where your audience is, you will be able to identify influencers within that online community.  Identifying the influencers within your online community will allow you to streamline your online marketing efforts by allowing you to create content aimed specifically at your followers. The first, and most important part of your social media efforts is identifying your online community.  Here are a few tips for getting you started:

Ask Yourself About Yourself

Before you start looking for the audience who will find your business most valuable, you need to look inward and answer some questions about you in order to answer questions about your target audience.IMG_00000232 Firstly, you need to be clear on your company’s goals in order to determine what online marketing strategy will help you reach those goals.  By having a clear picture of what you want to accomplish and where you want your online marketing efforts to take you will help to identify the medium you will use to build your own online community. There are a number of online marketing strategies that might work for you including beefing up your SEO practices, tackling e-mail marketing, or launching a full scale social media marketing campaign.  Determining which of these strategies will be most beneficial for your company will be largely based upon what your company’s goals are. Some other questions you need to ask yourself will be:

  1. Which demographic are you most likely to be relevant to?
  2. Which facet of business do you operate within and who do you look up to within your industry?
  3. Who are your competitors, and where are their online communities?
  4. Who are you following via social media and what blogs do you find most relevant?

Your answers to all of these questions are integral when it comes to determining where and how you are going to build your online community.

Ask Yourself About Your Audience

 Having answered some questions about yourself, now it is time to ask yourself some questions about your audience: Where are visitors to your site coming from?   We’ve already given you a brief explanation of the importance of web analytics.  Web analytics is also an important part of building your online community. Utilizing tools like Google Analytics means that you will be able to identify where your traffic is coming from which will give you clues as to where your target audience is spending their time online.  You might find that a large number of visitors to your site come from a specific social media platform such as Twitter, while virtually no traffic is brought to your webpage via Facebook.

Social Engagement

Use analytics tools to learn about your audience

By determining where the traffic to your webpage is coming from, you can pour more of your online marketing efforts into that medium allowing you to connect to your audience in the places they already frequent online. Who is linking back to your website?  It is important for you to determine who is sharing your content.  The people who share your blog posts, YouTube videos, and the like are the people who have found your content most relevant and are willing to share it with their own audience.  By finding the people who are sharing your content, you become more aware of the assets that are already in your community. The people who are already sharing your content are people you need to make sure you are sharing with.  If these links come by way of blog links, consider writing a guest post on their blog.  If these links are coming for users on various social media platforms, make sure you are following/liking these people and sharing with them often. Who is talking about you and what are they saying?  There are a number of tools available to you when it comes to building your online community.  Here are a few of our favourite tools which will help when it comes to managing your online reputation and building your online community.  One of these very useful tools is Google Alerts. It is of paramount importance that you monitor what is being said about your business.  Setting up a Google Alert for your own business as well as your competitors will allow you to be notified every time you or your competitors are being mentioned. Where your name pops up is a good indication of where your audience is already spending their time online.  These places are where you need to make sure your business is represented and is interacting with the people talking about you.

Zeroing in On Influencers

When it comes to building you community, it is important to identify the members of your audience who have a little bit more social media weight to throw around.  These are the people you will want to pay special attention to when it comes to your online marketing campaign, and there is a number of ways for you to find them. The best influencers will be users who post often and speak relevantly.  Once you find someone who might have influencer potential, check to see if they post on a regular basis.  If they are casual social media users who seem to forget about their online life for weeks or months a at a time, they will not have as much influence within your community.  Consider, also, the relevance of their posts.  If they are a user who tweet incessantly about themselves and keeps the world updated on how many times per day they brush their teeth, this user will probably be of little use to you when it comes to building your online community.

Follow Your Influencer’s Audience

Hootsuite is a great online marketing tool for managing and reporting on your Social Media

You can use a tool like HootSuite to manage your community interactions

Your influencers will already have an online community of their own built.  They will have people who they interact with and share information with.  The people in your influencer’s communities are people you want to include in your own community. When it comes to social media platforms such as Twitter, look at following and tweeting to the people your influencers follow as well as the people who follow your influencers.  When it comes to social media platforms such s Facebook, share, like, and comment on your influencer’s audiences’ posts.  Let them know you are out there and have relevant information to share. By following and engaging with your audience’s audience, you are planting seeds which will actively grow your community.  By growing your community, you are succeeding in extending your reach meaning you and your content have the possibility of being shared with and consumed by a larger group of people.  The greater your reach, and the larger your audience, the greater the potential to convert your audience into customers. These are just a few ways that you can target and build an online community.  At Guaranteed SEO, we are highly experienced in social media management, blogging, and community building.  We will help you start building your online community from the ground up, or we will help you fill in the gaps in your existing online community.  For more information on how we will put our expert knowledge to work for you, please contact us and feel free to call toll free at 1-866-588-8282 or +1-604-630-0767 outside of North America.  

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