Social media isn’t cool anymore. The times when we were all excited about connecting with old schoolmates and favorite brands on the internet have come and gone. Now that we’ve seen the dark side of social media, we all need a break.
That means the way we do social media for our businesses has to change, too. When Facebook and Twitter were in their infancy, getting traction was easy. As long as you engaged with your followers and shared content a few times a week, your community grew. That’s not the case anymore. People are looking for more personable experiences, away from sponsored stories and ads. Here is how to use social media and other apps to build meaningful communities in the early 2020’s.
Private Groups Over Public Forums
Have you heard of Modern Fertility? It’s a company bringing innovative solutions to the world of female fertility. It’s not just innovative with its products, but also in the way it manages its social media. Although Modern Fertility has a public social presence, most of its community building happens in private. The brand created a private community for its customers to interact on. Members can share their experience with other members and ask fertility questions. Because fertility can be taboo, it’s a perfect strategy for the company. Customers get to develop loyalty to the brand without having to share their experience in public.
But private communities are becoming a thing even outside of “taboo” industries. Customers are tired of over-marketed interactions on social media. They are looking for more genuine experiences that can’t happen on public social platforms anymore.
At Gravitr for example, we created a private community for all our freelance specialists to interact on. We call it the Gravitr Squad, and although it lives on Slack for now, it will soon expand to other platforms. It enables them to ask our team direct questions, but also build friendships with each other.
Other platforms built around private communities are also gaining in popularity. In 2020, Patreon raised a Series E of $90 million with a $1.1 billion valuation. The platform lets you pay a small subscription fee to be part of an artist’s private community. Artists often reward their Patreons with exclusive content and direct messages. ClubHouse, the social platform based on voice, received significant traction since its launch as well. It lets you create or join “rooms” where you can talk with someone else or listen to a conversation. Although you can join any room, only invited guests can speak.
We are just at the beginning of private social media. There will be even more niche platforms offering features specific to your needs. So be on the lookout for the right platform for your business, and start building your private community.
Keep the Old Way for PR
Creating your private community doesn’t mean you should give up on traditional social media altogether. Having a presence on Facebook, Twitter and others is useful for marketing purposes. That’s likely how your potential customers will find you before they have the chance to join your private community. The first time I heard of ClubHouse for example, it was on Twitter. It’s also what journalists will usually use to cover your company in the press.
So make sure to create a profile for your business on the most popular platforms. Keep the pages active with frequent product and company updates. Use your public profiles to share valuable knowledge and blog content. And of course, use it to remind people that they can join your private community once they are a customer. Try to avoid being too sales-y, even on these platforms. People on social media already despise ads, and won’t tolerate a page that spends its time trying to sell its products.
But the best thing that you can do for your company is to have a personal page. People tend to prefer following other people on social media, rather than brands. So as the leader of the company, make sure to have public social media profiles with your name and position. Use that page to share similar company updates, but not just that. You can also be more personable, share opinions, fun facts and mundane details about your life. Austen Allred, the founder of Lambda School, is a good example. His Twitter account provides a good balance of updates on his company and entertaining stories about his family life.
If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, hire a social media expert. They can manage your pages and community on your behalf, and adapt content and strategy to your audience. They’ll know what will bring a community closer together, and what would put its members off. You can start a social media campaign on Gravitr today, and it starts here.