What Does it Really Mean to Build a ‘Community’ on Social Media? (And Why You Should)

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Both creators and marketers alike are tapping into nan powerfulness of fostering communities — and pinch bully reason.

Cultivating deeper connections pinch and betwixt your followers tin animate marque loyalty and boost marque awareness, engagement, growth, and reach — not to mention that it feels really awesome to bring like-minded group together astir a shared purpose.

So really do you do it? And is it worthy it? We asked some online organization experts and community-building creators to stock their expertise, truthful you tin pat into this powerful approach.

While you’ll find nan word ‘community’ applied to everything from fandoms to followings, organization experts are speedy to constituent retired that simply having an assemblage (or following) does not a organization make.

“At its core, a organization is simply a group of group who stock communal interests and want to link pinch different group astir those interests,” says Alex Angel, Community Consultant, formerly Nike and Reddit.

Possibly nan astir important portion of nan puzzle is that “connect pinch different people” element. On societal media, fostering organization intends getting nan group who are connected to you connecting to each other.

VP of Marketing & Community astatine Comunity Leaders Institute, Adrian Speyer, pinpoints 4 cardinal aspects of community.​​

  1. A shared abstraction for group to stitchery and connect.
  2. These group stock a communal connection (jargon), customs, interests, aliases passions.
  3. They stock voluntarily and among themselves successful this space.
  4. They consciousness a consciousness of belonging successful this group and are genuinely willing successful supporting, assisting, sharing, and learning from each other.

Bear pinch maine arsenic I research immoderate much societal subject (there’s a Taylor Swift call-out astatine nan end!).

While your organization is portion of your audience, your full assemblage is not needfully portion of your community. The cardinal differences betwixt nan 2 dishonesty successful nan relationships and nan travel of communication.

An assemblage has a one-to-many relationship, wherever accusation is usually broadcast successful 1 direction, from nan superior sound (brand, creator, celebrity) to nan assemblage members.

In a community, many-to-many relationships beryllium (between nan superior sound and nan members, but besides betwixt nan members themselves). As a result, nan travel of accusation is multidirectional.

social media community

“I deliberation nan important point that distinguishes fans [or audience] and existent community, arsenic astir societal scientists will spot it, is nan communal sharing amongst themselves,” says Adrian.

He uses nan illustration of Taylor Swift to exemplify nan difference. She has fans who travel her connected various societal media platforms, perceive to her music, and seldom prosecute pinch each other. But location is simply a furniture of organization wrong that fandom — those who link pinch each different successful instrumentality groups and astatine concerts, switch relationship bracelets, and person shared experiences.

“They person a consciousness of belonging to 1 different — it conscionable truthful happens that alternatively than an liking uniting them, it’s a circumstantial individual,” he adds.


The statement betwixt assemblage and organization will often blur. Members will ebb and travel betwixt nan 2 groups — but this meaning offers a useful benchmark to thief you attraction your community-building efforts.

While location are a big of benefits to building a organization for creators, an important caveat: nan benefits of organization spell some ways.

Community is ne'er of nan sole use of nan creator, Adrian says. “The use is for your members, to person a deeper relationship to 1 different and foster a measurement for them to meet, connect, and support 1 another. This is simply a cardinal mindset shift.”

I’ll get into nan ‘how’ of that below. But first, here’s why building a organization could beryllium nan correct move for you.

Word-of-mouth marketing

Whether you’re trading products tied to your personal brand aliases are conscionable simply looking to turn your pursuing and engagement, fostering a consciousness of organization among your followers could go an important portion of your social media trading strategy.

Creating an engaged societal media organization is simply a batch for illustration cultivating a group of marque advocates. People who consciousness much profoundly connected to you aliases your marque are acold much apt to prosecute pinch aliases stock your contented and bargain aliases urge your merchandise aliases offering. In a nutshell: accrued reach, retention, sales, and more.

Ready entree to feedback

Cultivating a halfway group of group who you tin easy inquire for feedback aliases input tin beryllium incredibly useful, whether you’re looking to amended your merchandise offering, aliases simply get a amended consciousness of what your astir engaged followers want to spot much of.

Similar to user-generated contented (UGC) successful nan trading world, this type of contented comes successful galore shapes and sizes. It could mean gathering ideas from your members to thief pass your content, co-creating contented pinch them, aliases moreover utilizing your level to boost their contented (with permission, of course).

Whichever way you choose, this tin thief lighten nan load connected brands and creators having to trust solely connected themselves to provender nan algorithm.

It increases ‘stickiness’

It’s thing Alex has seen clip and again successful her profession — group subordinate communities for nan worth promised (in astir cases, contented and resources they consciousness they need) and extremity up staying not for that, but for nan relationships they person pinch different members.

“Those connections to each different create a full different level of retention,” she says. “It’s what we build towards arsenic professionals: if group go invested successful different group successful nan space, they are truthful overmuch much apt to instrumentality around.”

It conscionable feels great

There’s a logic a consciousness of belonging is correct up location successful Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. One study recovered that we crave belonging successful nan aforesaid measurement we crave nutrient and another that a deficiency of relationship is felt successful nan aforesaid region of nan encephalon successful which we acquisition beingness pain.

Full-time Instagram creator Tracey-Lee Lusty has focused connected cultivating a organization among her followers for respective years, an facet of her activity that she loves.

“From a individual standpoint, it’s been astonishing to person specified an engaged organization supporting maine successful everything I do,” she says. “Not only does it supply a consciousness of accountability but I besides deduce a batch of individual restitution from being capable to thief and animate others to emotion themselves fearlessly and scope their desired goals. I decidedly consciousness that we person a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Engaging successful your organization requires effort connected nan portion of your members — doing truthful should connection clear worth for them successful immoderate way. Here are immoderate applicable ways to do that.

Be clear connected your purpose

At Buffer, our intent is to thief creators and mini businesses get disconnected nan crushed and grow. Tracey’s is helping different women consciousness comfortable successful their ain skin, nary matter their size.

You should person a intent that goes beyond sharing snippets of your life aliases trading your merchandise — ideally, it is thing your organization tin link pinch and rally behind.

Be authentic & transparent

Communities are built connected relationships. Relationships are built connected trust. “It's really difficult to build trust, it's really easy to suffer it,” says Alex. “Both transparency and authenticity really thief engender spot and make it easier to build relationships faster.”

Showing up authentically is simply a cornerstone of Tracey’s community-building strategy, she says. “More than anything, my organization has been built done sharing corporate and relatable experiences, done being susceptible and showing up arsenic a normal personification pinch normal bully and bad days,” she adds.

“Speaking one’s truth is specified a powerful connector and it allows nan organization to consciousness portion of thing bigger.”

When it comes to community-building, engagement is simply a two-way street. While fandoms are one-sided, communities require effective two-way communication.

Community engagement is 1 of Tracey’s apical priorities. She goes nan other mile to connect, replying to each DM successful her inbox and to each remark connected her posts.

“Engage prosecute engage!” she says. “This is nan number 1 point I ever show everyone who is looking to summation marque loyalty and make their level consciousness for illustration a safe abstraction online.”

Encourage chat

Part of facilitating that multi-directional connection — and building relationships betwixt your members — intends inviting them into discussions together.

That could beryllium thing arsenic elemental arsenic tagging a personnel successful a consequence to an due remark from another, starting a really unsocial hashtag to thief group travel nan thread of a discussion, aliases moreover kicking disconnected a backstage chat erstwhile nan request arises.

More often than not, this will beryllium related to your shared purpose. What unites you and your members will merge your members, too.

Elevate your members

Whether it’s sharing their contented aliases highlighting their achievements, utilizing your level to observe your members tin beryllium a powerful portion of connective insubstantial successful your community.

A awesome illustration of this is Instagram creator Em Clarkson’s Feel Good Friday series, successful which she invites followers to stock thing bully astir themselves aliases their lives. She spends respective hours each week sharing their bully news — pregnancies, promotions, births, engagements, overcoming illness — via Instagram Stories, while dancing successful ceremony to an due song.

Make connections

Connect members who person thing meaningful successful common. If your contented resonates truthful profoundly pinch some of them, there’s apt plentifulness of overlap. Again, this could beryllium arsenic elemental arsenic a backstage chat, aliases for illustration Tracey, you could spell a measurement further.

She organized a meet-up for group successful her area who person undergone aliases are considering bariatric room to stock their experiences and connection each different support.

Surprise and delight

Giveaways and swag spell a agelong measurement successful showing your members you admit them. If you person branded merch, see astonishing your astir engaged members pinch a small gift. (Bonus: it’ll person them sharing your branding connected their ain societal channels for sure.)

If not, a voucher from different shop will do conscionable fine. Anything from a jam-packed swag container to a java voucher will person a akin effect.  


Pro tip: Rather than having to cod addresses and ruin nan surprise, you could simply connection a 100 percent disconnected discount codification to your online shop.

Community has existed successful galore shapes and forms complete nan years astatine Buffer — we’ve had BufferChat, our Slack, and Mobilize abstraction for customers (both now sunsetted), each of which we’ve written astir present connected our Open Blog.

Right now, location are respective organization touchpoints astatine Buffer:

  • A Discord server
  • Social media channels
  • Blog comments
  • Buffer Suggestions

We usage our societal channels and blogs to stock news and resources, and stitchery feedback successful return. Our shiny caller suggestions board, built during our astir caller Build Week, is simply a abstraction wherever users tin stock their apical characteristic requests and upvote others.

We spot these areas arsenic spaces that thief america build relationships betwixt nan Buffer squad and our customers and audience.

Then there’s our Discord, a abstraction wherever our customers and assemblage tin link pinch each different — we person a plethora of channels that let them to stock knowledge and resources pinch each other, whether that’s astir Buffer aliases thing other entirely.

Thus far, we’ve unpacked what it takes to build a organization among your followers straight connected your platfrom/s of choice. But location whitethorn travel a clip erstwhile comments and DMs are simply not enough.

Big creators, influencers, and celebrities often rotation up abstracted spaces for their highly engaged followers to amended link pinch each other. Paris Hilton, for example, kicked disconnected her ain thriving organization successful Discord successful 2022. While Paris herself is not a regular participant, is simply a peppy, positive, pink-hued space, wherever her fans enslaved complete fashion, beauty, their pets, and of course, their emotion of Paris.

This strategy is besides a favourite of gaming creators. YouTube gaming creator Eeowna, for example, started a organization successful Discord truthful her subscribers could play their favourite multiplayer games pinch her and, erstwhile she’s not around, each other.

Her superior extremity successful creating nan Discord server was connecting her subscribers to each other, alternatively than expanding her ain scope (though she does stock links to each her videos arsenic they driblet and her Twitch streaming schedule).

So really do you cognize if nan clip has travel to create backstage abstraction connected Slack, Discord, LinkedIn Group, Facebook Group, aliases 1 of nan galore forums? Alex says that if location is simply a circumstantial problem you’re incapable to lick for your members connected your existent platform, a move could beryllium a bully idea. Some examples include:

  • Getting regular, much nuanced feedback
  • Deeper conversations betwixt mini groups
  • Organizing virtual aliases in-person meet-ups
  • A dedicated abstraction for members-only perks aliases exclusive content
  • A measurement for members to make connections organically

“Social networks are much geared towards building followings than building communities,” Alex says. Not only are features that support nan activities supra constricted connected astir platforms but there’s a batch of fighting for their attraction connected them.

“So your members are not logging connected to their societal media profiles pinch nan mindset of, ‘OK, I’m a subordinate of this community, I’m contributing pinch these people’.”

So if you’re getting superior astir your community-building efforts, a dedicated abstraction that makes it easier for your members to forge relationships pinch each different could beryllium a awesome move.

Something worthy considering earlier you return nan plunge is really you’re going to get your members to subordinate you extracurricular nan societal platform, she adds. “Sending personalized invitations to a mini group first is nan measurement I’d counsel group to do this. You're going to person a overmuch higher deed complaint for group really joining and being engaged.”

All that said: if you retrieve 1 point from this article, retrieve that fostering organization intends creating worth for your members. I’ll time off you pinch much words of contented from Adrian:

“Community starts pinch a extremity of empathetic connection; it cannot beryllium artificially manufactured easy but it tin beryllium nurtured.”

“If you commencement pinch nan mindset of nurturing aliases assisting your assemblage pinch ways to find 1 different and connect, you will spot nan worth it brings — which is successful nan end, emotion bully for creating spaces that helps others find those who person a communal liking and passion.”

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