Building Your Community With Twitter
Gain a competitive edge with a larger social following
Due to the public, conversational nature of Twitter, many businesses choose it as the primary social network to build their online community. The best place to start is by regularly searching hashtags relevant to your industry or your company. If you’re an organic grocer, try doing a geo-targeted keyword search of people talking about “organic recipes” or “organic food” in your neighbourhood. Monitor those keywords and over time you should follow and engage with users who have a clear passion for organic eating, in addition to clear influencers on this topic. The goal is for your brand to be seen as genuinely helpful by providing people with information relevant to their needs which can lay a foundation of trust and goodwill for your online community.
If you get to a point where your engagement and Twitter presence is growing well, consider rallying your community to come together and have a conversation in real time. These “Twitter chats” are a great way to solidify existing relationships and attract potential new members. Before hosting your own, participate in chats relevant to your niche to get a greater understanding of what makes a chat successful. Aim to foster an environment where your community members interact and network amongst themselves, and not just with your brand. Come up with a unique hashtag for your chat, and consider cross promoting it through other communication channels, like your LinkedIn group or email list.
As mentioned, taking online relationships offline can be a powerful way to strengthen your community ties. When attending industry events, follow the event hashtag and scan the feed for people you’d like to connect with. If you’re hosting a meet up afterward, Twitter is the best way to announce it to potential attendees. Even if you’re not physically present at the event, you can still follow the hashtag and look for opportunities to participate in conversations and reach out to potential prospects, vendors and partners.
Building an online community is all about building relationships and trust. Twitter allows companies to do that by retweeting customers’ comments, favouriting influencers Tweets or just responding and acknowledging people’s questions or comments in a timely fashion.
That said, community is all about taking the good with the bad. When it comes to dealing with negative or hostile tweets, your first step should be to assess the account. Check out their profile to figure out if you’re dealing with a real person, a spam account, or simply a cyber bully. It’s good practice to de-escalate the situation, offer a solution for the complaint and know the point at which to take the conversation to a private discussion. Keep in mind that in a tightly knit community, your members may come to your defence or offer support, so make sure to track the replies to a particular negative tweet so you can thank the people who jumped into the conversation.