Zachary Chastain is Community Manager at Thought Labs, where he creates and spreads Thought Lab's original content and works with their clients to help build, manage, and constantly evolve their online communities. You can find Zachary on Twitter at @ThoughtLabs
Just as with new businesses, a large number of new online communities fail. Why do some brand’s first steps into the world of social media end so tragically? Usually, it’s one (or more!) of these four reasons!
1. You Don’t Have a Plan
One of the biggest reasons that your social media efforts may fail when trying to build an online community is that you don’t know why you’re using social media. If you’re only on Facebook or Twitter because your competitors are, or because you feel like you need to be in order to “keep up” then you’re not working towards any real goal. It’s the online equivalent of wandering around in the desert. You have to come in with a game plan as to how social media will work for your business, otherwise you’re wasting your time and your efforts are doomed.
2. Social Media Isn’t a Priority
Of course, if you don’t have a game plan, then you will quickly realize that you’re wasting your time posting content to a non-existent and unreceptive audience. You have no idea how you’ll grow your community or what you’ll do with it once you’ve created it. You have no business use for social media, so you’re not going to make it a priority.
Properly managing your online community isn’t something you can do in 15 minutes a day. It takes a serious commitment of time, and sometimes money, to reach your goals. If you’re not putting that time and effort in, then you’re not making social media a priority, so your online community is never getting off the ground.
3. You Don’t Understand Your Audience
Never fear, though! You’re smart, you started with a plan, and you knew to track your progress towards reaching your goals. You have a business use for social media, and you have incentive to put the effort in so that you can see the results!
Too bad you don’t understand your community. Nobody shares your daily 20% off deals, nobody retweets your links to press releases. Why don’t they care?! It’s because you’re not putting their needs first. Before you can use your community to reach your business goals, you first have to build that community up. Through trial and error, you must learn what they love, and give them more of it. If you want them to care about what you have to say, you have to first understand what they care about, so you can craft your own content to fit with their needs and interests. If you only care about you and your brand, then you’re the only one who will.
4. You’re On The Wrong Platform
Your online community for professional Chartered Yacht Captains on Facebook isn’t going over so well. How can this be? There are at least 1 billion people on Facebook! The problem you’re facing isn’t a lack of people; it’s a lack of the right people. You didn’t do your research on who your key demographic is and what platforms they use. They’re all using LinkedIn , but your group is on Facebook! You don’t build it and hope they will come; you go where your customers are. So, now it’s time to pull up your roots, relocate, and start from scratch, or your community is going to starve for members.
Avoid these pitfalls both when planning and managing your social media efforts and you can build a healthy and successful online community!