If you’re running a business by yourself, you know how tough it can be to grow and scale your company on your own. However, one of the things I have learned that helps with pushing your business to new levels is a community. Creating a community helps your business thrive, in addition to, it creates a family. In the past two years, I have been really striving to build a community.
Creating and being apart of a community, both have personal and business benefits. Here are some tips you can utilize to help you establish a community that helps your business thrive.
As Ghandi said, “Be The Change You Want To See In The World”; my take from a business owners persepctive is “be what you want others to be to you”. Last year, I spent a majority of time wondering why my site was lacking comments. I could see the site numbers growing, but was not seeing the engagement. It was frustrating. Then I noticed I had dropped my engagement on other sites. I use to comment religiously on other people’s blogs. Not to say, these same content creators were commenting on mine. Before asking others to do for you, do for others. Now once a week, I schedule 90 minutes out of that day to comment on blogs that I regularly read, plus ones I find on Pinterest. Sam of, Style of Sam, laughed about this at our dinner we had with the ladies of T+J Designs. It is rather funny I have to schedule time to comment but I do it. Give freely of what you want from others.
Stop Hard Selling To Strangers
Daily on Instagram, I am tagged in other business owners photos and post. Most times, they assume these are great social media marketing tools. They aren’t. These people also assume tagging someone is going to make them support. It’s not. Your community doesn’t want to be sold to constantly. I post here and there about products but no hard sells. Hard sells are when someone constantly post products, as well as, their telling their audience to buy buy buy.
Communicate and Engage
One of my favorite things about Twitter is that, it is a forum of open dialogues with millions of people. At any given second someone can be RT’ed to your timeline, thus sparking a potentially great conversation for you to join. Talk with your community. It’s great you’re commenting on their blog post, but take it up a notch. Earlier this year, Lauren of Elle Design Company, started a weekly chat on twitter. In my personal opinion, she is doing a several great things: 1) building her community 2) educating her audience on particular topics and 3) establishing her expertise. She is meeting her audience where they already are. Ask your audience questions. Get to know them. See what they are seeking and what to do with their lives.
Create A Space For Them
Heather Crabtree has done an excellent job of cultivating her online space. To help her community even more, she created a Facebook group for other Savvy Business Owners. I have learned a lot about the women in this group. Especially since a majority of them are in a different industry than I am. Where can your audience meet and hangout with each other? I am not talking about hanging out in the comments section of YouTube or Instagram. When people ask about engaging my audience I say meet me on my website. I love looking at the comments and seeing others responding to each other. I am actually working on a space to take it to the next level.
This is something I have been working extremely hard on. Not wanting to put out product or services that do not truly reflect who I am as a person or business. The best way to build a community is through your existing consumers. They are your best free advertisers for your small business. When you have a great offer, they are going to want to share it with others. People always ask how I built my brand. I say through cultivating relationships with my customers. I want them to have positive experiences each and every time.
Reward Your Audience
If you know me, I take birthdays and special occasions very seriously. I want everyone to know they are appreciated and loved. One of the things I love doing is giving away products or consultations to my audience. In addition to that, Starbucks gift cards, notebooks, flowers, and jewelry are my go to gifts for my audience. I want them to know I wouldn’t be this successful without them. They are truly loyal to me.
Creating a community that helps your business thrive takes a plethora of work. I am going to be completely honest, it is not something you can just do overnight. People support businesses they trust. They are part of communities they trust. Continuously engage and be present with your audience.
How can you start working on your community building skills? Are you part of any communities?