Grow your own online community

Posted: Fri, 04 July 2014 by

How to grow your own online community

Every project or venture needs a support-team, and all businesses need customers! Whomever your perfect customer is: whether they’re an eco-warrior, a busy single parent, a tartan enthusiast or a jam-jar collector, you can guarantee that they will be online somewhere. Blogs, forums, Facebook and Twitter have always been used to bring like-minded people together, and now you can use these same tools to find the people you need to make your idea a success.

Think what the point of connection will be between your project and the community who will support your venture. Usually, this connection will be the actual product or service your provide, but not always – sometimes you may need to think outside of the box.

Sandra Diamond’s Ecosse Candle Company creates high quality candles, and is based on the Clyde Coast of Scotland. Sandra realised that many people might choose to support her because they believed in maintaining manufacturing in their local area. With her message of “Fuel the flame of manufacturing in Scotland!”, she received generous donations from passionate supporters, and exceeded her £12,000 crowdfunding goal.

Other succesful projects we have supported through include the creation of a new tartan for cyclists, a genre-crossing supernatural romantic comedy film, and a tribute for a celebrity cat. When you have the entire online audience at your disposal, nothing is too niche!

How to make social media work for you:

So, how do you find the people you need? Search tools on social media make it easier than ever to connect with people who have the same interests as you. Hashtags are a great way to find people on Twitter who could be potential new followers. YouTube channels and Facebook groups also offer good opportunities to get involved with existing online communities, and participate in conversations that are relevant to your project. Don’t forget to search for blogs and forums too!

Whichever platform you use, it is essential that you engage with your audience. It''s not enough on social networks to simply share links, or to announce your product like an advertisement. There are paid for advert options you can use to promote your posts on Facebook and Twitter, but forums and groups are not the place for blatant self-promotion! Nothing is a bigger turn-off than people feeling that their forum has been hijacked for advertising purposes.

You have to participate in existing discussions, as well as starting new ones. Create a buzz around your venture by talking about the latest trends in your sector, revealing behind-the-scenes activities and posing questions to your followers about developing your business or product. This audience are your ideal potential customers, so they should be interested in what you have to say.

Once you’ve got people’s attention, don’t forget to include new contacts by tagging, or using @address and hashtags on Twitter. Hopefully, your message will spread virally, and open up your discussion to an even wider audience.

Give it a go! Put our tips into practice, and let us know how you’ve made social work for you with #TellBloom on Facebook or Twitter. We’re giving away free tickets to an exclusive Entrepreneur Country forum event in London, for the best use of social media this week.