As part of our SEJ interview series, I recently caught up with Katy Keim ofLithium to discuss how to build online communities.
In the video below, Katy shares her best tips for how to build a social online community.
- The best way to build an online community is to build a shared purpose with your customer — something that is mutually beneficial.
- An example Katy gives is the one created by Sephora. Sephora’s customer base is made up of a huge group of women who love beauty, so Sephora built a community around how to fuel that passion for beauty. By sharing your passion with your customers, your community will grow.
- How do you get started building a community? Katy says it really depends on the product you’re selling, but she suggests taking the conversations you have already started online, and figure out how to bring that to a party you host. For example, if your customers have already started their own community around your business on something like Pinterest, then think about how you can get that community to interact on a property you own. Like your website.
- When you’re building a community, sometimes it ends up growing so big that it feels like too much for one person to handle. Should you eventually consider hiring someone to help manage your community? Katy says that the customers are usually so good at managing the community themselves that it doesn’t require a big staff. The biggest resource investment comes when you’re deciding which angle the community is going to take.
- Many providers out there like Lithium offer moderation services, or other skills that a team might not have. Katy says planning your community is where you’re best off investing in additional resources.
- When it comes to communities, is it better to lead the conversation yourself or to let your customers lead the conversation? Katy says it’s absolutely best to let your customers lead the conversation.
- One of the things that has gone wrong on social media, Katy says, is that businesses are deciding what they want to push out and are using social media as another distribution channel. You really have to shift your mindset, the social community and what your customers want to talk about is not your agenda, it’s their agenda.
- Katy often asks her prospects and clients: “What’s a conversation that’s going on that you can tap into?” You have to look at it that way, not vice versa.
- How do you handle negative remarks about your business made online? Katy says this is the most common question, and you have to realize that often times negative things will get said because no business is perfect. Katy has two things to say about this situation, and the first thing is to own it. It’s amazing how much a simple apology changes things. The second that your customers will often come out in defense of the brand, which is the most powerful kind of PR messaging you can get.