Every business owner wants to build a community around their brand. Here are three quick tips to help you lay the foundation.
Build a Targeted Christian Community
The first building block is to build a community of brothers and sisters in Christ who deeply care about who you are and what your company is offering.
Set all of the social media noise aside for just a minute. Do you have a group of people that care about you? Friends? Family members? Church members? Colleagues? Net working groups? If you answered yes to any of these then you have a starting point. Once you have a starting point, you can start building your audience on one or several of the social media platforms.
You must be realistic, though. You can’t do everything! Taking a shotgun approach and trying to quickly build a large, robust social media community across multiple social platforms won’t be helpful. In fact, you will quickly find yourself discouraged. A more effective approach for the Christian entrepreneur is to build a targeted community. How do you build out a targeted Christian community?
The 316 team believes you start to build a robust community through organic techniques. You must write authentic and useful content that is perfectly suited for the audience you wish to reach. One of the first exercises we recommend is creating a top 100 list of questions your customers have about your product or service. Answering these questions is the lifeblood for connecting with your customer base. If you consistently connect with your audience with useful information, you will build brand awareness. You will naturally attract this audience to your brand. Be sure to identify the key influencers in your audience. Be sure to leverage these relationships when appropriate.
The second step is often under utilized and a key to a successful social media foundation. The establishment of team captains is critical for a successful campaign launch. These are friends, church leaders, pastors, colleagues or family members that are well connected in various market segments. Most importantly they are passionate about you and what you are doing!
For purposes of this article we will use 316Marketplace as an example to follow:
1. Ask your captains to get social with your primary social media platforms. Choose one or two social media outlets to focus on. In this example, we will use Facebook and Twitter as the primary social media platforms. Be sure to spell it all out for the captains.
“Like” 316marketplace.com on Facebook and “follow” @316Marketplace on Twitter
2. Request your team captains engage with online groups that are like minded in faith and beliefs.
Did you know that you can engage with other Christian fan pages and make a significant impact on 316Marketplace.com? This is a great way to build brand awareness among like-minded Christian companies and their followers. Simple acts of “liking” a Facebook post and making positive comments about 316Marketplace.com can really have a ripple effect!
Sample comment: “Your coffee looks amazing! Thank you Lifeboat Coffee for providing amazing coffee that is #prolife.
3. Utilize #hashtags
Hash-tags (the pound sign #) are universally used on Twitter and are now gaining popularity on Facebook and Google +. They are not only good for searches, they also help target your audience and can lead to more re tweets. For example, if you post a comment about 316Marketplace.com and add the hash-tag #christianbusiness, then anyone looking for resources or information on Christian business has a greater chance of finding yours and re tweeting it or even better contacting 316Marketplace.com and placing an order!
The more targeted and accurate your hash-tag use, the more targeted followers you’re likely going to pull towards 316marketplace.com! Be sure to leverage hash-tags when appropriate so all your content is categorized correctly and easy to search for later.
Here are acceptable #hashtags to use when discussing or commenting about 316marketplace on Twitter, Facebook or Google +:
#christianbusiness #christiandirectory #316 #316matters
#4 JUMP IN ON TRENDING TOPICS IN THE CHRISTIAN WORLD
When you visit your home page on twitter, there is a box with “trending topics.” Take a moment to see what is trending. Then, if at all possible join into the conversation on a trending topic. To do this, include the trending topic as a hash-tag in your tweet. You can also check commonly used #hashtags with the search tool in the upper right hand corner of Twitter.
Engagement is the key to building a strong digital presence!
It is important to keep it social. Thus, when you write a post, tag others and add a personal reason why you thought they’d like it.
Example: I can tell you are passionate about #christianbusiness and thought you would appreciate knowing about 316 Marketplace. Check them out at 316marketplace.com.
This technique gets your post on their wall and it increases the likelihood that they will respond in kind and better yet, re tweet the post to their Christian network! The search will pull up the most recent conversations or tweets that have utilized #christianbusiness. Each of these tweets and conversations are perfect opportunities to engage, inform and educate other Christian business advocates about the mission of 316Marketplace.com! Simply “like” with a “reply” about 316!
#5 Share 316marketplace.com Web-site, Facebook/Twitter pages through your websites and blogs.
Many of your captains will have personal & business websites or have a personal contacts in their networks who doe. These resources are extremely valuable to the creation of a solid social media presence in the digital marketplace. Don’t be shy. Go ahead and ask your captains to do the following:
1. Include a 316marketplace.com link on your web-site
2. Write an article about 316 on your blog
3. Include links to the 316Marketplace Facebook, & Twitter pages on your web-site
4. Include a banner ad on your web-site when appropriate
Paid Advertising or Community-Building
Paid advertising is the third step to building a solid foundation. Community-building via paid advertising is traditionally much faster than its organic counterpart if you have a budget that allows for it. It’s important to note this audience doesn’t know you and isn’t emotionally or personally invested in you. Paid advertising is necessary for a successful community build.
The primary social media platform (Facebook and Twitter) provide excellent opportunities to really drill down and target the Christian audience you are seeking. By leveraging these paid advertising resources, your growth can sky-rocket. Your Christian community will grow significantly in the weeks and months ahead. We recommend starting with Facebook ads to help build a targeted faith based community. Facebook has an easy to use advertising program.
Community Building Takes Time
Building a faith based community seeking Christian resources, products and services does take time. We strongly urge you to build a community anchored by: focusing on delivering high quality content, be useful to your audience, and deliver the information in a manner that will keep them engaged!