Updated: Oct 12, 2021
As an entrepreneur, the most valuable thing for your company is a community.
When you first started, your community is likely your family, friends, and personal account followers. However, once you start growing, you will need to have new people be genuinely interested in your brand. How do you connect with influencers or build B2B connections?
Here are the 5 things you should consider when using content marketing to grow your network:
i) You should like, comment, inbox, tag, and research your community every day.
You should be in a habit of using your social media accounts like a human being. Follow people and hashtags relevant to your business based on your understanding of your target audience, and look for small but powerful influencers, particularly those who are growing, just like you.
From my years of experience, if you tag along and join their journey, they are very likely to have your back too. Building a community like this requires nothing more than a genuine heart to connect. A simple follow, like, and comment not only allows their followers to see you but allows them to feel a sense of connection, which is very important for any future collaborations. Never approach an influencer straight up with an offer because this dilutes the whole connection process into a one-time-only transaction.
This is the same as building B2B relationships. If you want to connect with an international brand, aim for their local accounts instead of their global accounts. Show your presence by tagging them after using their equipment or share their content to show your appreciation.
This can all be done on Instagram and Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter work particularly well with building B2B connection. I highly recommend creating personalized content for sharing on Messenger and IG stories to connect with your community. This may be a special shoutout or a nice graphic that you can send out to make people feel valued.
ii) Your indicator of success is engagement rate, not following.
Many brands still get lost in the chase for followings, but I rarely consider that as a healthy indicator of community building. You should always focus on quality over quantity because once you have a strong pack, it will naturally grow. But if you have a weak pack, you can do all the work, but you will not see reactions.
The key to this is setting your content pillars and assessing their performance every month. With content pillars, you can easily see which pool of content is driving good engagement and which is not. You can then choose to boost to reach more people, or you can continue to refine your content until all your pillars are effective in driving high engagement. A good benchmark is an engagement rate of >1%.
iii) React to your engagements!
Don’t stop at gathering engagement rates - think about how you can utilize this information. For example, the basic thing to do is manually invite them to like your page. Secondly, look through the list of people who have engaged with you and see if they are influencers-in-the-making, or someone you can involve in your content creation process. Reach out and send them an inbox message or connect with them in the ways mentioned under point 1. They are the people who already show interest in your content and brand, making them much easier to approach and connect with.
iv) Always create with your competitors in mind.
This does not mean to do what they do or not do what they are not doing, but observe their engagement rate and take note of any content patterns. You can only do so much yourself, but by looking through your competitor's content, you can get a lot of inspiration as to what formats and topics appeal to your target audiences. The only thing I would recommend you not to do is to approach the same influencers that they are already using commercially.
v) Admit your shortcomings and mistakes.
This is something big brands would never do and what I see as the ultimate edge for small businesses. Let your community be a part of your journey, and do not be afraid to share with them your behind-the-scenes raw footages, bloopers, struggles, and more.
Create a personal and passionate copy to go with this content, and if it fits your brand style, show your face. Tell them what you have done in the past month, and let them in on what you have planned to do in the next month. Ask for their advice with polls and quizzes on Instagram, and show gratefulness when they respond. Reply to comments, and start conversations with them. Always reply to inbox messages as soon as you can, and let them know that your ears are wide open. Share with them what has inspired you, and don’t be afraid to show your stance. The global audience favor brands and owners who take a stand on social media.
I have used such tactics for various companies and clients, and they have all shown promising results. Not to mention, all of these things are free. Though there needs to be a healthy allocation of budget for content marketing, organic achievements are the purest form of success. They are the key indicators of your target audiences’ preference and the health of your social media accounts. As we face more disabled tracking in 2021, decreasing the effectiveness of ad buys, this is the time to ace your content game.