Did you know that every minute, 510,000 comments, 293,000 status updates, and 136,000 photos are shared to Facebook? For small businesses and organizations, it may seem a challenge to stand out from the ever-flowing posts, status updates, and viral cat videos. However, millions of users are flocking to Facebook not only for entertainment but also for community immersion and engagement. Social media platforms such as Facebook are nothing less than an opportunity to establish community between your organization and its partners and participants.
At the core of online community building efforts should lie three things: your org’s vision, its values, and its veracity—the “Three V’s” of online community building. Your org’s vision can be established through creative collaboration and brainstorming, and ultimately encompasses your org’s goals.
The vision of your organization should be easily accessible to your audience on any virtual platform—whether it be Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or your org’s website. The more concise the vision, the better. Here is an example of an illustrated vision from one of our client’s Facebook pages:
Right off the bat, thanks to the word cloud in the header, visitors to this page know exactly what kind of community they are getting involved with. (It also doesn’t hurt that the vision is presented in a simple, clean, and unique way!)
Online platforms are an opportunity to establish and demonstrate your org’s values, which is the second “V” in the three V’s of online community building. Below is an example of Facebook community engagement by one of our clients. Think you can surmise what kind of values this organization holds? (Hint: Wildlife.)
Values are simply this: the things you, your organization, and your audience consider important. A great way to demonstrate your org’s values is by creating and sharing content that people care about. This sets the stage for two-way conversation between your organization and its participants, as represented by the Piedmont Wildlife and their trail cam video. The idea is to create synergy by propping up and connecting your org’s online circles.
Demonstrating your values to your online community could look like sharing your client’s local charity event to your org’s Facebook page. Alternatively, it could mean creating/sharing written content pertinent to social change and community uplift.
Authentic content centered around uplift will go the farthest, as demonstrated by local nonprofit InterAct:
Your small business’s or org’s commitment to veracity– the third and final of our “Three V’s”– plays a critical role in developing your online community. Veracity simply means dedication to truthfulness or authenticity. Do not be led astray by sensationalist headlines, otherwise known as “clickbait.” There are a number of compelling reasons why your community building strategy shouldn’t utilize click-bait and other superficial content.
Not only are clickbait titles leading and deceptive, but they also fail to center the user’s experience. If your small business or organization wouldn’t deceive people in real life, it shouldn’t deceive people virtually. In fact, 80% of Facebook users indicate a preference for headlines that help them decide whether or not an article is important to them. Quality content, then, should be accompanied by quality headlines.
Quality headlines will be exciting, but not cheesy; will pay particular attention to word choice; and will let the social media scroller know what they can expect to read about while still planting the seed of curiosity. Here’s an example of what we think is a clear headline and description for a post, from the Reify Media blog:
Getting Started: Online Community Building Ideas
So, how do you get started focusing on your org’s 3 Vs?
Here are ten suggestions to get started on developing your online communities.
- Asking your followers an intriguing opinion question.
- Discussing what inspires your small business or org’s purpose.
- Sharing your client’s work.
- Hosting a design contest.
- Creating polls.
- Giveaways (Who doesn’t love free stuff?).
- Written blog posts.
- Humorous graphics or memes (We will discuss meme-ing in a later blog post, so stay tuned…)
- ‘Facebook Live’ a local event pertinent to your org or small business.
- Sharing content from organizations from which your org draws inspiration.
Don’t be afraid to get creative—social media is an opportunity to showcase your org’s personality. In order to build up your online community, focus on crafting authentic content for your audiences to rally around. In equipping your social media pages with meaningful content while keeping in mind the “Three V’s,” you will empower all those in your virtual circles to talk, share, and act.
And of course, we love brainstorming ideas, so if you ever want to talk, let’s grab coffee! #coffeeandideas