How to engage your community digitally
We’re in a digital world now. As a business owner, you can resist it all you want or you can learn how to use it well to flourish as a business. It’s also very possible that you can enjoy yourself as you do it. I never saw myself operating my businesses 100% virtually but it was a necessary (and in actuality the best) shift I could have taken. Not just because of covid, but because my life is easier now, and my businesses do better.
Going online means you have unlimited reach, unlimited clients and unlimited time (you can be “open” 24/7). It means you can put systems in place that organize you, systems that automate your work, and you can do all of this for less than what it would cost you to operate a brick and mortar.
If you still operate a brick and mortar, you’re going to want to listen here as building online engagement will help drive more business to you. It’s kind of a non-negotiable. I’ve written this article to help you too. Because I see a lot of you doing this. I see you going online. I see you creating pretty websites or instagram accounts….but it stops there. I don’t see you converting this work…..into a community….into engagement and sales.
You can build your services online, but if your community isn’t engaging with your content and creations….it’s not getting you anywhere. Those of you who reluctantly were “pushed” into the online world may think the job is done when your products are up there. Some of you LOVE the online world and are proud of your digital creations…..but you’re still waiting for those sales.
Here are my top tips for engaging community digitally, so you can grow your business, convert community into sales and thrive (pandemic or not).
Tip #1: The “If you build it, they will come….” mentality will hold you back if you stop here. Many people stop here. They build the website, the instagram page, the product, the course, the ad…..then they just wait for the sales to come in.
This doesn’t work because we live in a low-attention span society. If someone happens to see your product or business….it’s quickly forgotten. “Oh, look at that, I am really interested in buying a ______” then *poof* they move on to the next thing and they’ve forgotten all about you.
In order to combat this, you’re going to need to be more consistent. It takes people on average 7 showings of your products before they buy from you. You need to be consistent with your marketing and presence and you need to engage your community in conversation.
Tip #2: Show them WHY you do what you do
Your WHY is your biggest asset. Apple has a strong WHY. They are for unique and forward thinking individuals. Their WHY isn’t that they sell computers and mp4 players. Their WHY is a bigger driving force. It sets them apart from their competitors. It makes people proud to be a part of their community. DELL may have better computers..but their WHY falls short. Harley Davidson has a strong WHY. They’re for the rebel. For the real American. They’re for freedom.
And notice that neither Harley Davidson or Apple have their WHY posted on a quoted tile on instagram…..it’s said in their way of being. It’s said in their imagery, in the events that they attend, in the products that they create, the people that represent their brand.
In Simon Sinek’s book “Start with WHY” he explained that we always start with WHY. Then we move onto the HOW and What. The difference looks like this:
Imagine if Apple started backwards by creating a marketing message that started with “what.”
“We make great computers. They’re user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?”
Maybe. It’s just not that exciting and we definitely can’t engage with this statement. It ends here.
But if we start with WHY we get something that sounds more like this:
“With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
WHY starts the conversation. It gives the consumer something to chew on and something to engage with. People who buy Apple products…..think differently. They’re here to challenge the status quo.
Tip #3: Show them WHO you are
Get brave now team. Not comfortable in front of a screen? I don’t think any of us were when we started out. Anything new is scary. It’s time to break that fear. People buy from people they know, like and trust.
Writing blog content and instagram posts is great. Video is even better. Hearing your voice, allowing your community to see your mannerisms, your sense of humour and your face is a great way to build “know, like and trust.” Chances are, you’re not the only one who sells what you sell. The deciding factor is most likely not the product itself….but the person behind it all.
So hop on an instagram live, shoot a short video on your phone, create a facebook live answering questions from your community in real time or make a reel if you have fun doing that sort of thing.
Going live is a great time to answer FAQs, ask your community questions, tell them about upcoming products, who you are, WHY you do it and what they can expect for you. It’s the fastest way to build “know, like and trust.”
Tip #4: Serve, serve, serve………then sell.
I serve 75% of the time. Then I sell. I create free content, blog posts, instagram stories, freebies, and even products for free. If you’re only selling, you’re not going to build engagement.
What are you offering them? Why should they tune in? They won’t be tuning in if it’s only for sales.
You can serve with tutorials, educational posts, freebies, and more personal content like blogs and personal stories that they can relate to.
You can serve them in your newsletter, a blog on your website, through contests and instagram posts. Give generously and it will pay off. It also builds “know, like and trust.”
Tip #5: All business is enhanced through conversation
When you post something and someone comments….comment back! No more emojis, actually write a sentence or two! Follow up with them. Send customers DMs and ask how they like your products.
Ask your community questions and answer back.
Tell people about what you do and why you do it and talk about it often. Talk about it face to face, in a live, in an email. Ask them about them, why they chose your service and how they’re liking it.
Follow up with your community. Share their stories and feedback. Post their reviews and questions. Answer their questions in real time, on a video. Interview them.
You can build relationships online. Think of all transactions as a conversation and keep it going. Build relationships with other vendors, with competitors, with your clients and consumers.
Tip #6 : The most important lesson in relation with everything online…….is have fun with it
None of this has to be hard. None of it has to be a struggle. “You hate doing things online” is an unhelpful and hurtful story for you and your business. Change your story. If you’re not the most creative person in the world, there are many who can help you. There are many in your industry who are having fun with it – check out what they’re doing.
You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing….but look around and have fun creating digital relationships and strategy. Play music and encourage dancing in your zoom meetings and classes, make a hilarious reel, do a live stream with a friend that you feel comfortable with, create graphics that pop or share memes. The internet is fun. Play with it.
The story we attach to what we do influences how we do it. If your story is “this is hard, I hate it and I don’t want to do it…..” people will feel that and you will fail at it. Find the parts that you do like. Get help with inspiration. Have fun building your presence online, have fun creating relationships with your community and fun growing your business online.
All of it…..can be fun. That’s the best way to start a story.
For individual support with your marketing and business strategy, set up a free call with me. I help businesses create blueprints for success. Email firstname.lastname@example.org