Community engagement is the process of bringing together various audiences and influencers in order to address the concerns of or share content to these groups. Community engagement is a multi-layered, ongoing process for your small business. Not much different than being the host of an extravagant feast, community engagement requires patience, determination, and resources. Taking the right steps as you go along will make implementing your content and overall marketing strategy plans much easier in the end. In order, to help you remember “the steps” of community engagement we have provided an acronym for community engagement best practices.
The FEAST method is a 5-tier approach to community engagement and works in all industries. You will always repeat these steps and often times follow these steps in an order different than the one I have provided. Social media community engagement is not a clear step-by-step process but is more about finding a method that works for you and sticking to it. Please feel free to add your own words to the list.
You should create valuable content that will substantially add value or provide knowledge for your audience. Content can be text (in the forms of questions or statements), photos, videos, etc. Content should be unique and authentic. This step is not necessarily FIRST and is in fact present throughtout the entire FEAST.
Listening to what’s going on can make your life much easier. Researching how other companies or social media users are talking about your industry is a great start in finding content and to know what is important in your community. You want to make sure that you are listening with open ears to see what the issues and questions are for your audience. This alone opens up a whole host of opportunity for providing your expertise and sharing knowledge.
Understanding where your audience “hangs out” is important. If your users don’t use Twitter, for instance, then you probably shouldn’t use that platform to share content in an effort to gain more followers. Furthermore, building your community is one thing, engaging them is another. Knowing your audience is important so that you can share relevant content that will maintain your networks and encourage your audience to share in the conversation.
It was so hard to pick just one “S” word for our FEAST. It’s important to share your thoughts and links of your content about particular topics in your industry but it’s even more important to showcase or support others in your community.
Contributing to influencer blogs or encouraging your followers to share content (e.g. photo contest, reply to question) is important in an effort to have your audience be an active one. Inactive followers just become likers of your brand but do not deepen their engagement to your product. The deeper their interest and interaction with your social media platforms the more likely they are to contribute to your company.
It takes a village to create community engagement. Engagement with the community requires that you are a part of the commmunity as opposed to being a removed entity of social media. Contributing to the conversation, being active on your social media platforms, and creating consistency across your platforms allow you to become an active participant in your community.
How do you engage YOUR audience?