Do you work with social media? A lot of community owners think social media were their enemy (or at least competitors). If you're struggling to compete with social media, you have misunderstood your users. If you think forums are dying because of social media, you have missed the point. Ignoring social media is a big mistake.
Today, almost all members shift between websites and various social media tools. This is natural behavior. Accept, that they might meet on your community, but they also interact all over the place. Don't waste your time trying to change member habits but see how you benefit from them. It’s always easier to swim with the tide than against it.
You should embrace social media as community owner, don't resist it. View a social media as an opportunity instead of a threat and things become easier. Realize it's not a competition, it's a chance.
How communities differ from social media
Generally, members use social media for quick messages and self-expression. If they have a more complicated question or need more detailed information, they turn to the community.
If people have a quick question or want to update members on what they're doing, then Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram seem to be their preferred tools. If they want to emphasize their identity, they increasingly turn to social media instead of member profile in your community.
Social media is about "me", communities are about "us". I will not inform Plesk support community of what I've eaten today. It would be very curious, isn't it? But I would post a nice photo of my meal in my Facebook and a selfie in a nice location on Instagram. Is it a kind of information you really require in your community? Let them post their selfies and quick updates somewhere else. It's better for you.
Get them back to your community if they need extended help, deep researched information or emotional support.
If you've been avoiding social media so far, it might be time to dive in.
What social media can do for you?
- Be remembered. If your users stay away from your community but still subscribed to your social media channel, it's possible they will re-engage. Whereas, if they're gone and unsubscribed from the newsletter, you'll probably never see them again. Take a chance to appear in their timeline. Who knows?
- Sharing your content. You want your community users to share and promote your content. They will likely do it if you publish direct on social media. And they're much more likely to do that if they know and trust the team creating the content.
- Free Promotion. People use social media every day (whether you like it or not). Your articles or promoted posts will appear in the timelines of non-members. Cool.
- New community members? The real answer is: You don't know. Even a drip of new members makes it worthwhile, isn't it?
Does it really work? It's not a question of whether the channel does/doesn't work. It doesn't cost much time and effort to post a few social media updates per week. Invision Community has perfect integration opportunities. Take advantage of them all.
How can you use social media in your community?
- Answer quick questions from members (and non-members). Do a trick, post a simple answer in social media and a long extended one in your community.
- Create curated content in your community. You can pull in their content or question from social and share it within the community (curated and answered). Use your community to showcase content from others. People that have been showcased will love it! For example, write a digest from social media at the end of each week.
- Follow the topic on social media and see which questions people are asking. Answer the questions in your community in FAQ, articles or discussions. This will be a booster for your SEO. Your key advantage is that social media is very poorly represented in search engines. Use their weakness.
- Talking about what they are doing. Collect your users' social media accounts and subscribe! Begin by talking about your current social media followers. Talk about what Alex is doing, then ask your community what they think about Alex's actions. That's a conversation start.
- Build up a recommended follow list of top members. Use your community as a tool to find out who is worth following. Clever?
I have tried it, it did not work
What exactly have you tried? It did not work after what period of time? Two weeks? A single data point in a short period of time doesn't tell you what is or isn't working. It might take much longer to see the fruits in social media compared with a more traditional marketing campaign.
If you use integrated Invision Community tools, you do not spend a lot of time. And with Zapier integration, no minute at all. Setup and forget it. Do analyze after some months.
What tools Invision Community offer to make your work easier?
- Login integration with Facebook and Twitter
- Links to your social accounts in outgoing e-mails
- Profile fields for social accounts of your members
- Profile completion to encourage users to fill out those fields
- Re-post content items on Facebook and Twitter without doing anything (Hint, hint: Zapier!)
- Copy to database and curate hot topics to promote curated content on your social media accounts
- Use Twitter timeline
- Enable importing status from social profiles for your users
- Customize share buttons making them more present
What of these possibilities do you use and what not? What is your experience with social media? Have you ever analyzed your data to figure out whether it works or not?