How to build a brand community using social media

Marketing and brand

24 February 2017

Social media is an important part of the marketing landscape, especially for retailers, and 15.5% of businesses surveyed said they're planning to launch a social media page this year.

Unfortunately Facebook isn't quite like the Field of Dreams – if you build it, they won't necessarily come. Once you have gained some real social media followers, you need to encourage them to stick around. Here's how to build up a brand community.

Plan a blogger takeover

Letting a digital influencer handle your Instagram account for a day is a good way to attract attention from the blogger's followers and ensure that the content posted is fresh as a daisy. Choose a blogger who is relevant to your audience and your products. For example, if you sell furniture, look for local interior-design bloggers; if you're promoting your new kitchen range, a food blogger would be appropriate.

Promoted posts (with an interactive twist)

It's difficult to get your posts seen on Facebook without paying, so when you do splash out on a promoted post you need to make the most of it. Facebook is also more likely to promote posts for free if people have previously interacted with your page, so add a poll, a competition or a video that invites comments. As well as helping you to reach more people organically, this will give you an idea of what customers want from your social-media presence (and from your business).

Soften your brand tone of voice

Your brand might have a matter-of-fact tone of voice on paper, but when it comes to social media you need to relax a little and prepare to get chatty. Only responding to customers who complain will make your Twitter feed look drab (and as though people are complaining a lot, even if they aren't). Get involved in conversations, and have a laugh with your customers whenever possible, though you should avoid inappropriate subjects – so don't talk about rowdy nights out or mention controversial political points. It's therefore essential that you keep your personal and business accounts separate and that you plan your posts – using AXA's BGA social-media app will help you to do this.

Use Pinterest as a showcase

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are social media's big three, but don't underestimate smaller networks such as Pinterest. This bookmarking website is very visual, making it a great site for retailers. You can use rich pins to pull through pricing information, so anyone who is browsing the site can see how much your products cost and click through to buy them. Pinterest is also good for community building, as you can respond to questions from potential customers.

Offer giveaways

Competitions and giveaways attract more customers to your social-media pages, and encourage your current customers to share your content. Asking people to like and share your content for a chance to win is against Facebook's terms and conditions, so stay on the right side of the rules by hosting the giveaway on your own page. You can use an app like Rafflecopter, which lets you include social-media promotion as an optional entry condition.