The easiest way to think about community, is to think about a high school. In high school there are groups and cliques that form among shared interests. The drama kids, band geeks, jocks, ect . . . These groups usually stick together and defend each other and their interests. This is much like the community on your social channels. When I was working on a popular consumer electronics brand, there was a group of die-hard fans who shared tips and tricks on how to use devices, and defended the brand at all costs. This community was healthy, vibrant, and thriving. As a manager of these communities, it’s your job to get these people to keep talking. The longer you work on a brand, the more familiar you’ll become with your community. Here are some quick and dirty tips for measuring the health of your community.
1. Do you recognize community members?
As mentioned above, the longer your working on a brand or organization, you’ll notice the same people coming and interacting on your content. If you’re seeing repeat visitors on your Facebook Page/Twitter/Google+ Page/Tumblr/ect . . . then chances are your community is thriving. If you’re not seeing repeat visitors on your content, it may be time to rethink your content strategy to get repeat visitors.
2. Are people defending your brand/organization?
When you have a PR crisis does your community jump to your defense? If you answered yes, that means that your community feels a personal connection to your brand or organization. When the community rallies around you in times of crisis, then you have a strong healthy community. If your community would rather watch you go down in flames, time to rethink how you can strengthen your ties to the community to let them feel more a part of your brand.
3. Are people contributing their own content?
When you are asking people to contribute content (their images, reasons why they love you, ect) are they? Better yet, are people sharing their own content on your wall (if you have it turned it on) without being prompted? If people are sharing their own content dedicated to your brand/organization, that is a sure sign that they are invested in you, and want the world to know where their allegiances lie. If they’re not, don’t worry, a gentle nudge and even seeding some user generated content into your content calendar may get people to open up and share a bit more.
4. Does your page moderate itself?
The most telling sign of a healthy community is one that moderates itself. This is the last step towards a healthy community. This type of community is one where when a troll comes in or someone starts to cause trouble, your community will shut that person down, and not let them get away with causing trouble on your page. If your community is not self-moderating, don’t worry. All you need to do is let your community know that this is a place where people can be themselves in a safe and positive environment. When your community feels comfortable and feels an ownership of the brand or organization, then they will start to moderate themselves. Just note that this step takes some time, so don’t worry if you’re not seeing results right away.
Community health is an important aspect of your social media marketing. If you don’t take time to develop a healthy community in today’s one-on-one marketing landscape, customers will feel like they’re being marketed at and not listened to. If you take the time to interact with your customers and let them know you’re listening, you will be able to develop a strong loyalty to your brands products or services, thus creating life-long customers.