My company is always trying out new ways to connect with and build our audience. As an entrepreneur I tend to obsess over people’s opinions of my company and our products and use their feedback to propel us forward. But even though social media creates a lot of ways for businesses to share information with consumers, it’s not a natural place to have conversations.
So if you want to have that sort of very direct and personal back and forth with your audience, you have to actively seek out ways to create community. One way that we’ve had a lot success creating that conversation is through a book club.
I started our book club last summer as a way for our audience community to share what they were reading. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the right platform for it. I debated doing everything from a weekly Twitter chat to blog-post style updates on our website.
Ultimately I decided to create a Facebook group. I chose that platform because you can invite people to join, leave it open for the public and anyone who’s joined can post and comment. Another really nice piece is that anyone who is a part of the group will get a notification when someone has posted.
My teammate Josie actually brought up the conversation-friendly format of Facebook groups when we were trying to figure out how to better engage with our audience. I was worrying about how few interactions we got when we posted information on our company’s Facebook page. She was like, “Hey I’m actually in this really cool Facebook group with a huge audience that gets a constant stream of interactions– it’s called Dog Spotting.”
So I made her invite me to the group and instantly saw what she was talking about: My feed was full of the posts, people were constantly commenting, sharing and tagging friends. I wondered how to recreate that interaction on a way that was relevant to my company’s community. This is what I’ve learned:
Use photos to catch attention
The one thing that really stood out was the strong visual element of posts. The point of Dog Spotting is for people to post pictures of random dogs they see. Because it’s so photo-driven the posts really stand out in your feed. So I knew that I wanted guide our group towards posts that included photos. Accordingly we encouraged people to post photos of the books they had chosen, and and photos of specific passages they wanted to share. Here’s an example:
State specific goals for the group
Whether you’re using your Facebook group to fill your feed with cute puppies or to get feedback from your audience about a product, make the point of your group obvious. For example though my company’s Facebook group is broadly characterized as a “book club” within that framework we have specific challenges in specific time frames. So last summer the mission was:
Here’s your challenge:
“Read four books either by female authors or with female leads.
1 book set in a place you’ve never been
1 book from a genre you don’t usually read
1 book you’ve been meaning to read for ages
1 book your mom/bff/other woman in your life recommends to you
Post in here when you’ve decided what you’re going to read, when you’re in the middle of a page you just really need to talk about, and/or when you’ve finished your books.”
Narrowing in on the point of the group tells your audience how they should participate. The specific goals of the group should be focused on shared interests. So in Dog Spotting, the shared interest is dogs. My company, as a digital media company is in the business of stories. So the shared interest of our book club is stories as well. Even when our audience was reading wildly different books like they were for our summer 2016 challenge, there was a common theme that tied all of the posts and people together.
Make sure that you and your team are active group members
Community, in real life and on the internet, is all about mutual effort. And you really do get back what you put in. For me that means actively participating in our challenges– sharing my progress and posing questions and comments as they come up. I also stay on top of what other people are posting and try to regularly engage with them. So if someone is reading a book I love, I make sure to say so. And if they’re reading something I haven’t, I might ask if they recommend it.
You can’t really throw your consumers together in a room, sit back and expect to learn how they engage with your business and message without also engaging with them.
Overall, I feel like the community my company has created in our book club Facebook group has created sort of a niche within our larger audience. I know that they’re familiar with not just our work but with me personally so when I’m looking for feedback on something that isn’t necessarily book-club related, I still reach out to them for their input. Creating this kind of relationship with your consumers is something I highly recommend, it’s been incredibly rewarding. Source: forbes