If there's one thing that takes more time and more resources to cultivate over time for a business, it's the prospect of developing a community that identifies strongly with your business, demonstrate a significant degree of loyalty, and allow for continuous engagement amongst themselves.
More commonly, these are known as Community Building and Engagement respectively. To some, these phrases can often be mistaken or broadly lotted into the same category, in spite of the fact that they are wholly different concepts. While they are different, they are objectives that a company should be seeking to achieve at the same time.
In order to help you, as an entrepreneur, better create and maintain your loyal community, we'll be digging more into the difference between community building and community engagement.
Much as the name suggests, community building is all about building up a loyal following of like-minded or supportive users and customers. These will make up some of your biggest online and real-world advocates, and after a while, this same community can help to build your community, business and brand even further.
While building a community seems like a pretty straight forward thing to do, in truth, it's actually a lot more challenging than people think. It's not as easy as just hosting a few meet-ups and expecting news to travel - your business needs to find a way to translate effectively across social media outlets in order to better appeal to the people who would become your business' fans.
First and foremost, building a community has to walk hand-in-hand with your overarching business model, along with your initial minimum viable product. Community Building sets the foundations of concurrent and future engagement, in which you need to consider how to market your brand across a range of social media platforms that can often vary wildly in what kind of tone of voice you use to build your community
Now that you have the blueprint of building up your community, community engagement goes into just how to interact with this steadily growing community over time. So if community building is all about laying the foundations, then community engagement is all about putting your dominoes in line on top of it.
Much as has been previously discussed, wherever your business has a dedicated page on social media, you have to take into consideration the kind of people that you will be interacting with, along with the vocabulary you use on each of these pages.
This goes as far as what content you use in order to appeal to these often very diverse communities. For example, if you have communities on LinkedIn, you may want to use more well-researched articles and E-books in order to better communicate with a professional audience.
Alternatively, through Facebook or Twitter, these will often hinge more on catching the attention of your community quickly with fast facts and graphics that are easily sharable.
Along with a strategic understanding of social media channels, community engagement can also be things as relatively simple as replying to comments online, direct messages and fostering conversations around shared experiences.
Engage well with your communities - and you can create a truly elaborate set of dominoes on top of a highly robust foundation. Don't engage at all, or worse: engage poorly, and they'll all come tumbling down before you could even get stacking.