Social media has become an essential part of any marketing campaign─but just having it isn’t enough. It’s not good enough to use social media as a lower cost way to deliver your brand messages to your target audience. It’s not good enough even to use social media as a way to engage in two-way conversations with that target. The full benefits of social media accrue to those who use it as an avenue to community building.

Five Steps to Community Building with Social Media

LiveWorld’s Peter Friedman shared his insights on social media with me. I crossed those with the BRAVE frameworks in my new book, First-Time Leader, to create a BRAVE approach to community building. Working from the outside in and across behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values, and the environment yields:

  • Environment-where to play/context: Social media has become the main driver of attention. You must use it and use it well.
  • Values-what matters and why/bedrock: Clarify your goals and the ROI of your social media efforts.
  • Approach-how to win/choices: Make clear choices about your social media strategy and approach.
  • Relationships-how to connect/engagement: The most important social media relationships are the ones between members of your community.
  • Behaviors-what impact/actions: When it comes to social media, think 40% community, 40% category, 20% brand.

ENVIRONMENT: Where to play─context

In a world where anyone can publish content, utilizing and managing social media is no longer an option you can ignore. So do it right. Most social media is really not social. It’s advertising run through online channels. That’s not the game. Social requires dialogue. Dialogue builds relationships. People don’t have relationships with things. They have relationships with each other. School reunions aren’t about reconnecting with schools. They are about reconnecting with classmates.

VALUES: What matters and why─bedrock

Start by getting clear on your goals and the ROI: what you’re going to invest and what the return is going to be. This could be new customers, new sales, enhanced relationships, or something else. Further, get clear on what your brand is going to stand for. In other words, what’s the purpose of the community you’re building─for its members? And ultimately, what’s in it for your brand?

APPROACH: How to win─choices

Make clear choices about your strategy and approach. How will you lead your community members to interact with each other? What will be the look and feel of the platform? Environment? Relationships? The choices around your approach are critical to gathering people, developing a community, and capturing its members’ names.

RELATIONSHIPS: How to connect─engagement

The most important social media relationships are the ones between members of your community. Most marketers still view social media platforms as another way to broadcast their brand messages to customers and get some viral spreading of that broadcast message. More enlightened marketers are leveraging and managing social media platforms to build relationships with their customers. The most successful social marketers are building communities.

BEHAVIORS: What impact─action

Moving from broadcast, to engagement, to deep involvement through conversations, and to ongoing relationships requires letting go of your “brand first” mentality. Indeed, 40% of your social messaging should be social about and by the people in your community; 40% should be about the category or context; and only 20% should be about your brand and products. If you build the community, the community will brand.