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Video Transcript

When you’re formulating strategies for how to grow your online community, it’s important to ask yourself the right questions. “How do I engage followers that might derive value from my online community” instead of “How do I engage as many people as possible” is a good place to start.  We’ve all seen Facebook and Twitter accounts with high follower numbers and low engagement rates. That’s because not all followers are created equal, and it’s better to have a small but dedicated community than a large one who’s not interested in what you offer and doesn’t align with your company’s mission and values.  

So how do you find the right audience? First, reach out to your offline community and encourage them to join your brand online. This could be your customers, people who’ve attended your events, as well as your partners and vendors. You can offer incentives to your existing customers to begin following you on Twitter, like a freebie or a discount on their next purchase. If your community is active on Instagram, encourage them to share photos of their new purchases with a branded hashtag, which can be easily searched by anyone who’s interested in your products. And of course, always include links to your social properties in your emails, website, and any print materials you create - make it as easy as possible for people to connect with you where they hang out most.

Connecting with the right influencers can also help you attract the right following. Take the time to research influencers in your niche and analyze the conversations that are happening in their communities. If you see potential for alignment in values and interests, dedicate the time to build a relationship. Hosting and sponsoring events is a great way to make meaningful connections with the right people. For example, as an organic grocer, you may invite local vegetarian chefs for an open forum discussion on how to prepare nutritious vegetarian meals. As they announce this event to their networks, your shop can get on the radar of those who may not have known about it yet. And because you offer a product their followers are already interested in, this connection becomes more meaningful and memorable. The same principles apply when you’re looking to partner with complementary businesses. For example, a healthy grocer would have a more fruitful partnership with a local gym than a local tire shop.

Lastly, find people who are advocating on the behalf of your brand already and make a point to reach out to develop a closer relationship. It may take some time to dig through social feeds and comb blogs for mentions of your company name, but it’s time well spent since these fans are typically more than happy to amplify your messages and recommend you to their network.