The fastest and most effective way of connecting to your target audience is by meeting them where they are. What’s the easiest way to do this online? Already established communities.
In my mind, social media groups and communities are ideal for meeting like-minded individuals who share the same passion and similar interests as you and/or your brand. By joining a community, they have signified that the community topic is of high interest and value to them.
That said, it has finally occurred to me that some people do not understand the value of their social media audience, and (perhaps) unknowingly are missing out on great opportunities to make a meaningful connection with other members of the Internet community.
But beware– businesses and brands have an uphill battle to fight when it comes to engaging in online communities– specifically Google+ communities. The bombardment of spammers and self-serving, non-relational infestation in communities has made people very sensitive to being marketed to.
To help you navigate through becoming a welcomed member of communities you participate in, I’ve identified three types of users you DO NOT want to behave like:
- Spammer: This type of community user needs no introduction. You can expect a broadcast message followed by a one-sided conversation. I compare this to an annoying party guest that brings a pocket full of business cards/flyers and hands them out to everyone they meet.
- Link Littering: In most instances, this type of user is what I would like to refer as an unintentional spammer. Either shy or unaware, this users post rarely contains more than a link and (if you’re really lucky) a few well thought-out words, like: “really cool”, “awesome”, “found this”, etc.. This is hardly the way to grab the audience’s attention, especially when they are confronted by a half a dozen other posts, constantly moving in their feed.
- All-Star: This user’s profile will (most often) contain a description that was obviously written with one hand patting themselves on the back. As well, you can expect that the summary will contain a liberal collection of titles like: expert, guru, ninja, etc.. These users are famous for the Top 3, Top 5, Top 10 lists, that lead to a blog page covered with ads. Generally a sign they are not making a living off of whatever they claim to be an expert ninja guru in.
Given that I have spent time describing the type of user you do not want to be, it is time to review a few quick tips for proper engagement etiquette in Google+ Communities. These strategies are not exclusive to Google+, and can also be applied to other social media networks’ groups and forums as well.
- Share Content That is Unique. The best way to do this, is to generate it yourself or have content created specifically for you. As well, peruse the appropriate category and make certain that a similar post doesn’t already exist in the community.
- Place Your Post in The Appropriate Category. Look carefully through the selection and choose the community category that is closely related to the keywords, that would best describe the blog post/article you are sharing.
- Capture The Audience’s Attention. Provide a narrative or summary that is long enough to capture the audience’s attention and inspires them to read more. If you can answer the question, “how will this change my life?” in 160+ characters, you’re on the right track. This is especially important if you are promoting your own content.
- Give Credit. If you are linking to someones content always make the effort to give them credit for their work. If they are not already in your circles, use the Google+ search bar to find the original author and then add them.
- Use Hash tags. #ilovehashtags Use hash tags sparingly to describe the fundamental principles of your post or article. Consider using your blog post’s keywords, if you are struggling to come up with ideas.
- Interact With Your Audience. Always answer comments, questions and concerns in a timely manner. Even if the view expressed by audience members contradicts yours, invite the debate and communicate professionally.
Your participation in Internet communities should mirror your engagement in communities and/or groups in real life. Just as your actions there would be sincere and helpful, so should your contributions be to the groups and communities you are a part of online.
Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
Let this definition above guide your behavior. Help others work toward their goals. In doing so, you will establish meaningful relationships with other people that share your do-good attitude, and will help you achieve your own successes too.