It’s ironic but true. The more time I spend on social media the more I realize how important actually meeting people is. And this is coming from an introvert who originally thought that social media was a great way to avoid having to talk to people.

But now I’m a believer in not only using social media to follow and connect with my target audience, but also to begin real relationships with the marketing pros and C-Suite influencers that I want to help, share ideas with, and (who am I kidding) sell to. Simply put, social media has been key to establishing valuable relationships and creating community for my brand.

Why creating community is so important

The reality is there’s no better way to consistently “break through the noise” than having the right community of customers, prospects, and influencers that already want to read and share your brand content, recommend your company, and offer insights over coffee (real relationships, remember?)

More specifically, creating a strong community around your company can help with:

  • Brand advocacy. Building relationships with those customers most likely to recommend your brand is just a no-brainer. These advocates already know and use your services, and are ready to help spread the word. So create a community of brand advocates.
  • Influencer marketing. Industry influencers have the ear of your target buyers. But do they know who you are and favor your brand over the competition? Probably not. That means it’s time to learn the four rules of influencer marketing. Even a handful of the right influencer relationships can be huge for your marketing efforts.
  • Account based marketing. You already know whom you want to sell to, so why not build relationships with them first? Creating a community of prospects at your targeted accounts will jump-start all your account-based marketing efforts. Here’s how social media can help optimize ABM.

What’s the bottom line? Community building needs to be a key aspect of your social media efforts whether you’re a B2B marketer at a startup, enterprise, or somewhere in between.

B2B social media can help with community

Once you have an active and meaningful presence on social media you can start to focus on community building. Here are four ways how:

  1. Identify the right people. Most of your customers, prospects, and influencers are active on social media. Find them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Quora, etc. by searching the social platforms and by using social tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social.
  1. Research prospects and influencers. Track what top prospects and influencers read and share on social media. Which hashtags do they use, what content are they sharing, and what topics are they passionate about? Do your homework before trying to engage anyone. Leadtail reports are a great place to start.
  1. Nurture your budding community. Get (and stay) on the radar by following members of your target audience, sharing their content, and liking their activities on social media. They’ll notice over time and appreciate you for it… and don’t be surprised when they return the favor!
  1. Look for opportunities to engage. Go ahead and thank folks for sharing, ask and answer questions, comment on their posts, and get introduced through your LinkedIn network. Just remember to start the relationship by making it about them and how you can help.

What happens after you engage them on social media? Invite your growing community to company events, ask them to participate on webinars and collaborate on content, give them sneak-peeks of upcoming product releases, send them company swag… you get the idea!

Of course, having a community also means making it easy for members to engage each another. So encourage networking at your conferences, launch community-based software to facilitate discussions between members, make introductions, and (my personal favorite!) host dinners where like-minded people can engage over food, wine, and fun conversation.

Tamara McCleary creating community over dinner with Leadtail

Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that creating community via social media takes time… on the other hand, this should be a key aspect of your social media strategy anyway. And being a bit more selective with who you listen to, curate, share, and engage with will pay big dividends both online and offline.

So what are you waiting for? Start using B2B social media to create your community!