The core feature of most social media networks is the feed, i.e., the main area of the network where all the updates from the people you follow can be found. Not surprisingly, then, it’s where brands tend to focus their social media marketing efforts, trying to beat social media algorithms to get seen in their followers’ feeds.
But there is a whole other world of marketing opportunity you’re missing out on if you only leverage feeds. Social media groups can help you reach a highly targeted and engaged audience without relying on social network algorithms to give you visibility.
Why Get Involved In Social Media Communities?
There are plenty of benefits of being part of a social media group or community. As mentioned, you don’t have to rely on the algorithms to be seen. Anyone who is in the group can see your posts.
Moreover, groups get to the heart of what social media is really all about: Being social. If you want to just promote your wares, this is not the tactic for you. Community members have their antennae up for any type of self-promotion and will let you know if you are stepping outside the line. But if you are looking to build brand awareness and real relationships, this is the place for you. By their very nature, groups tend to be more interactive. Because they are built around common interests, they contain highly targeted, highly engaged audiences.
Popular Social Media Groups
So are you ready to get started with social media groups? First things first. You need to find some relevant groups. Buffer has a nice list of social media groups and chats, but not all of you are in the digital marketing industry. So how do you find groups that are relevant to YOU?
Fortunately, most social networks have groups or chats, and they are fairly easy to find. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular networks and the communities they support.
For B2B, I don’t think much beats LinkedIn Groups. Some have questioned whether they are still relevant since many have been overrun with people simply looking to drop links to their own content. But I have still found a number of groups with active memberships and true engagement. In fact, some of the most in-depth conversations I’ve had online (at least from a business perspective) have been in LinkedIn Groups. And some of those conversations have led to actual leads. Many people I have engaged with via LinkedIn Groups have become connections, as well.
You can find relevant Groups by searching on your LinkedIn home page for keywords related to the audience you are trying to reach. For instance, if you provide services for recruiters, “recruiting” would be a good keyword to search. You can also find Groups by going to the profiles of your connections and seeing which Groups they belong to.
The key here is to provide value. You can post links to some of your own content, but proceed with caution. Make sure what you are linking to is highly relevant to the group and is not self-promotional.
Also, you want to do more than just post links to your own content. Respond to other conversations in the group. Ask questions or start your own discussions. This is how you get true value from this format.
Chats are Twitter’s version of groups/communities. The organizer of a Twitter chat will create a hashtag and a regular “meeting” time. Those who want to participate in the Twitter chat then start following the hashtag and respond using that hashtag during the pre-determined time. For instance, I participate regularly in the #TwitterSmarter chat, which meets on Thursdays from 1-2 p.m. EST. You can find relevant Twitter chats, as well as groups and communities in other networks, by running Google searches.
The moderator will usually ask a series of questions. Answer those questions, and be sure to reply and retweet other people’s responses. Remember, you are not there to promote yourself. You are there to be helpful and build relationships with those in your audience. It’s also a great way to interact with busy industry influencers. The interactions you have through Twitter chats can blossom into potential customers or possible referrers.
Twitter chats can be a little bit overwhelming when you first start out. There tend to be a lot of people tweeting with the hashtag, answering questions from the moderator, and replying to others, which makes for a very noisy stream if you are simply following the hashtag on Twitter. If you want to participate in a Twitter chat, I highly recommend using TweetChat. This puts everything into one stream for you, allows you to buffer the stream (it only shows so many new tweets at a time so you don’t get bombarded), and best of all, automatically puts the chat hashtag in your tweets. Trust me, it’s easy to forget!
One of the common complaints about marketing on Facebook is that it’s getting harder and harder to appear in the organic news feed. It’s increasingly becoming necessary to invest in some Facebook advertising to get in front of your audience.
You definitely SHOULD consider advertising on Facebook. It’s one of the most affordable ways to reach a targeted audience. But you also may want to look into Facebook Groups. The difference, of course, is you can’t go in there, guns ablazing, promoting yourself. Your role here is to participate in conversations and provide your expert advice to people asking for help. Doing this helps you build up authority and brand awareness.
To find relevant Facebook Groups, simply type a keyword related to your industry or audience in the Facebook search bar. Then click on the “Groups” tab.
What Are Your Favorite Groups?
If you haven’t tried social media groups/chats, I hope this convinces you to give them a shot. And if you have tried them, I’d love to hear your results and specifically which groups or chats you have found helpful. Let me know down in the comments.