I’m guessing that there are readers of this blog who see themselves in what I just described. No matter where you are in the spectrum – whether already having a community to starting from scratch and everything in between – I’ve got some ideas for you that will help you fire up fierce loyalty. Ready?
The Top 7 Ways to Ignite Fierce Loyalty
Determine your reason(s) for wanting a community. If it’s simply a means to an end so that you have people to sell stuff to, hit the pause button. No matter how you try to mask that, potential community members will smell your motivation a million miles away. If your motivation is building relationships with your customers and clients and getting to know them so that you better understand their needs, then you’re on the right track.
Decide who your community is for. So often I see emails, newsletters and websites that try to appeal to a very broad group. And I talk to business owners who are building one community for about five different audiences with five different interests. Because the message is so general, people aren’t sure whether or not they belong. And if they aren’t sure, they won’t stay. Be specific and targeted.
Figure out the single common interest that everyone in your community shares. Maybe there are five different types of people in your community but they share a single common interest. For example: you sell organic dog food and your community is made up of pet owners, veterinarians, pet trainers, pet sitters, and pet store owners. Their common interest is holistic pet wellness. Build your community and fierce loyalty by speaking to that common interest.
Create multiple connection points. And by connection points, I mean opportunities for two-way communication. Gone are the days of businesses pumping out one-way messages. Use blogs, social media, livestream videos and in-person gatherings to connect with your community members and give them the opportunity to connect with each other.
Invite them to help you create the community. Give them an ownership stake by incorporating their ideas into the community design. Ask them what would make the community better and then implement some of their suggestions. It’s a little scary to give up some control, but the payoff is a community full of people who feel that it belongs to them—and that feeling of ownership can be a powerful motivator when it comes to keeping people involved and interested.
Make your community members the stars of the show. Feature content they create. Put their pictures and their words up on your blog or your website. Talk about them by name on your social media channels. Give them a reason to brag to their friends with a link to your site.
Be human. Let your community see all sides of you rather than just your polished, well-groomed public persona. Talk about things that are happening that have nothing to do with business. Share details about your life (only as much as you feel comfortable) so your community members 1) get to know more about who you are and 2) will feel comfortable doing the same.
These seven strategies: determine your reason, decide who it’s for, figure out the common interest, create multiple connection points, invite them to help, make them the stars and be human are not expensive or fancy. And anyone at any point in their community building process can put them into play.
Which one or ones will you try first? What would you add to the list? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
P.S. If you want dig in further on the whole idea of Fierce Loyalty, you can download my whitepaper (opt-in free) “The ROI of a Fiercely Loyal Community.”
Sarah Robinson is president and CEO of Sarah Robinson Co. She is a seasoned business coach, strategist, advisor and speaker who helps business owners set their companies apart from the pack. Based in Birmingham, Ala., Sarah advises her international clients on how to build a thriving, successful community, how to increase social media effectiveness, and how to develop a remarkable online and offline business presence. Her expertise in personal and business change was developed through many years of working with and providing coaching to entrepreneurs, small businesses and start-up non-profits, where she honed her ability to “turn around” thousands of struggling individuals and organizations.
Image by charles chan* via Creative Commons