So you want to build a community of followers and fans on social media? In this episode of The Cs of Social Media, I’ll show you how. (I will focus primarily on Twitter but the lessons are applicable elsewhere).

Whether you’re an individual building a personal brand, a professional looking for industry recognition, an organisation searching for new prospects or someone with a story to tell, your reach and impact will be limited without followership. So here are a few tips to help you build a robust community:

1. First, avoid buying followers or converting an existing Twitter handle for use by an unrelated brand.

Quality of followership matters and not just quantity. You want followers that are interested in you – true advocates. You don’t want unrelated conversations or content that will put off would-be prospects.

2. Consistently put out good content.

There must be something about your platform that people want and will subscribe to, so they can continue getting.

3. Be engaging.

Stop talking “at” people. Converse with them. Initiate conversations. Be interested. Promote and help others too.

4. Use search tools strategically.

Use the search function on Twitter, Hootsuite or Commun.it to identify strategic conversation threads. Find people talking about you or your brand and also do the following:

– Look for experts in and those passionate about your industry. Promote their content and then ask for reciprocity when you have content you want to amplify.

– Look for those badmouthing your competitors and offer your services as an alternative.

– Look for those seeking your product or service and market them directly.

– Celebrate and thank those using your product or sharing your content.

In addition to topical searches, run locational searches to find prospects in your specific business location.

Social marketing tools like Commun.it recommend people to engage and highlight your most active followers so you can celebrate them. Also, look through public Twitter lists to find great people to engage with.Social media engagement

High value followers

5. If you’re a consumer business, don’t be shy about following back. One good turn deserves another.

6. Use the right platforms.

Twitter is great for spotting trends and identifying prospects while Facebook and Linkedin groups are better at community building and engagement. You may however use Twitter to drive traffic to other platforms.

7. Stand for something.

To become a platform worth following, you should be known for a specific topic or product. Don’t be scared about expressing strong opinions or being passionate in order to rise above the noise of social media.

8. Community management is important.

It takes time, attention and effort to manage a community. It also requires leadership. If you’re a brand, you need a dedicated community manager as distinct from a social media manager. A community manager is focused on conversations, engagement, conversion and growth. A social media manager is concerned with strategy, platforms, and content.

I hope the points I’ve shared help you build a community you’re proud of. I wish you success on your social media journey.