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Nov. 11, 2014

86: What I've Learned in Building a New Social Media Community

86: What I've Learned in Building a New Social Media Community

Neal talks about the launch of his new Social Media Center of Excellence Facebook Group and what he has learned building a new community in social media - and how you can leverage Neal's experience.

Key Highlights

[02:14] My Own Facebook Group

[02:41] What to Expect When You Join My Facebook Group

[04:24] How  Started My Group

[05:42] Deciding On Who You Opt-In Your Group

[06:13] How to Get More Followers and Engagement?

[06:45] "Cross-Pollination"

[07:19] Your Group Should Serve Utilitarian Purpose

[08:59] Utilitarian Part of a Facebook Group

[11:10] The Advantage of Engagement on Facebook

[11:58] The Other Side of the Equation: Engagement

[13:02] The Challenge on Engagement

[13:21] The First Thing I Do Whenever We Have a New Group Member

[14:09] Create Rules!

[14:54] Have A Combination

Notable Quotes

  • Now, obviously, numbers are not everything. It's more about quality versus quantity. I want the right people into the group.
  • So who would you opt in? Right I'm totally against opting people and I think it goes against a lot of well basic principles of etiquette and of of online social networking, and social media principles.
  • But also, once you opt them in once they go to the group, you need to have a clear visual clear rules, posting rules, a clear about section, and you need to tell them, hey, you know, if you're offended, please opt out, you have already expressed interest in that's why you're here.
  • And how do you get more engagement, it's the same themes over and over and over. And there's no one golden rule, because every community is going to be filled with different people with a different objective. It's the whole social media is half science, half art. This is sort of the science, but you all need to be the artist, because we're dealing with people here, and everybody is different, right?
  • But really, your group, or your community should serve utilitarian purpose. And I think a lot of brands businesses don't really have that utilitarian purpose, because they're looking at purely as a marketing objective.
  • But you need to have a utilitarian view that it just becomes natural to push people there, right.
  • So it really is a great place, like I said, engage where people are. And the beautiful thing about this engagement is that EdgeRank actually works in your favor, if groups are getting more of a drink than pages are you can imagine.
  • The objective of a group is to get actual discussion from people, and not just comments on what you write her answers to your questions, but you want them to submit their own questions.
  • I am currently whenever we have a new member, I'm tagging them and welcoming them to the group. I like to think that every person is important, especially in the early days, just had our 50th member, you know, everyone's important, I want everyone to feel welcome. And it gives, it gives me a chance to show that I value them, but also to start up a conversation with them. And invariably, someone else in the group already knows them. And they'll add on to that, right. And there are other members of the group who will welcome everybody just like I do. And I feel they're becoming strong members of the community. 
  • And I want people to know that we're going to be very focused and I want them to value it. I want them to I want my group to attain mindshare for what it is versus competing groups wherever they may be in social media. 
Transcript

Neal Schaffer:

Welcome to maximize your social, actionable 10 minute advice on how your business can maximize your social media presence. Now, the host of maximize your social, social media author, speaker, consultant, founder of maximize social business, and soon to launch Social Media Center of Excellence, Neal Schaffer. Everybody this is Neal Schaffer, welcome to another episode of maximize your social. Today I'm at my home office here in beautiful Orange County, California next week. Well, by the time you hear this, I will be speaking at California State Fullerton on the do's and don'ts of social media for college students always love to share the potential benefits, but also the potential disadvantages that social has to well, the demographic that uses social more than anyone else, right. So that should be a really, really good event, hope to report back to you on that one on the next podcast. But this podcast, I want to continue with my story on creating my own community, via a Facebook group for this new Social Media Center of Excellence project that I am in the process of launching, you'll have to listen to my previous podcast maybe two or three weeks ago, where I talked about, you know, discovering the value of Facebook groups, it's been interesting because not just my own group, but by being active in a few very, very selected groups sort of that engagement spills over right you see people in those groups that you already know from, from Twitter or LinkedIn that you are never friends on Facebook, you become friends, you have more conversations, you can help people out with the knowledge that you have and make new friends. And it's really just helped me learn about a lot of things. There's new people that I can ask questions to, and hopefully offer advice to others that might need it as well. So once again, if you need any guidance on a few Facebook groups I recommend some are very much very, very closed to new people. But others even though they're closed, if you fit their relevant demographic, you know more than happy to make the introduction to you and you can apply, just hey, you know where I am, feel free to reach out to me on social media or on one of my digital properties. So it's been interesting, because with my own social media center of excellence Facebook group, it really is an experiment. It's a new brand, although I have a Neal Schaffer brand, I have a windmill networking brand, I have a maximized social business brand, I have a maximize your social brand. And even though the branding, the logo, the visual of the Social Media Center of Excellence ties into maximize social business, maximize your social, it's still new, when people have never heard of it. They're like, What the heck is this? Why would I want to join this group? And once I joined the group what to expect, and it's almost like an experiment in creating a community. Whether you create a new twitter handle a new Facebook page, it's the same thing, how are you going to generate engagement? Now with a Facebook group, the engagements are interesting, obviously, when you have a LinkedIn group, and someone posted on LinkedIn group that can often go out in a network update that someone so just posted something in a LinkedIn group, and Facebook is the same. We all know the value of trying to show up in Facebook newsfeeds, I've been really surprised now that I'm starting to get active in Facebook groups, how much Facebook will prioritize Facebook groups in your news feeds I was I was actually shocked to see that probably I'm getting more display of notifications of Facebook groups than I do of Facebook pages. And once again, this ties into the theme of sort of the uncharted territory that I think Facebook groups can have for a lot of brands, not just for the type of community that I'm building. But beyond that, it's also that, you know, once your friends join a group and you go to any given group, you're going to be recommended to join these other groups. And often those groups are going to be where you have a lot of friends on. So the idea is to get as much engagement in your group so that your posts show up more in the news feeds of your members. But also the more people that join your group, because they liked that engagement, they think it's relevant, the more their friends will see that they have friends in your group, and the more that they'll join your group. And I think it's very much and I've seen, you know, the same groups pop up over and over on the suggested groups. I think it's sort of like this, you know, Tumbleweed approach. Now, obviously, numbers are not everything. It's more about quality versus quantity. I want the right people into the group. And the interesting thing is I started my group very differently. Most people well if you start a Facebook page or Twitter account, you can't automatically add people in even with a LinkedIn group you can't Facebook groups are really the only ones and it causes a lot of controversy that you can actually opt people in. So who would you opt in? Right I'm totally against opting people and I think it goes against a lot of well basic principles of etiquette and of of online social networking, and social media principles. But I know a lot of people do it. Now, I will be honest that I have a social media sui.com site for Social Media Center of Excellence. And I said, hey, we'll let you know when we launch. So I had a very, very small email list. And I literally went through the email addresses in that list of the people that I knew, Okay, only the people that I knew who I thought would wouldn't mind be a part of it. And only from those people, I don't know, maybe 20 or so people started very small, I often add them into the group, I also sent out a message, you know, hey, if you've been opted in, in the group, you've shown an interest by opting into the newsletter for social media co.com, we're not ready to launch yet. But I'm going to be using this Facebook group to give you updates on that. So you decide who you want to opt in, you know, what are going to be your parameters for opting people in? Should you decide to do that. And like I said, You can't do this in other networks. And maybe that's what makes Facebook, very interesting for a lot of people. But also, once you opt them in once they go to the group, you need to have a clear visual clear rules, posting rules, a clear about section, and you need to tell them, hey, you know, if you're offended, please opt out, you have already expressed interest in that's why you're here. But above and beyond that, you know, how do you get that? So we'll we'll talk about two different things here, right? And it's the exact same for any new community that you create in social media, how do you get more followers? And how do you get more engagement, it's the same themes over and over and over. And there's no one golden rule, because every community is going to be filled with different people with a different objective. It's the whole social media is half science, half art. This is sort of the science, but you all need to be the artist, because we're dealing with people here, and everybody is different, right? So let's talk first, the easy one is sort of, you know, trying to get new followers into the group. And I talk a lot about this, whenever I do a social media presentation of sort of cross pollination, you already have communities that have an affiliation with your brand across different social networks. Well, let them know that you've created a community put it in your email newsletter, just because it's Google Plus doesn't mean you can't be shy about talking about the fact that you created a Facebook community. And I've been told the Google Plus people, Hey, I decided to create a Facebook community over a Google Plus community for a few different reasons. You know, I detail in my podcast, but if you're interested, please check it out. And on Twitter, and email newsletter, and what have you. But really, your group, or your community should serve utilitarian purpose. And I think a lot of brands businesses don't really have that utilitarian purpose, because they're looking at purely as a marketing objective. This goes back to how I started my Pinterest account. And now I'm, wow, I'm at about 4000 pins. I'm pinning like crazy, trying to create a resource and I started Pinterest. Well, I got the aha moment with Pinterest. And I think this is one of my earlier podcasts, you'll have to do a search for it, where I did a Pinterest for business webinar. And I do these regularly. And you'll see me doing more of those in the future when Social Media Center of Excellence starts. But I said, Hey, there's a lot of data, a lot of tools, a lot of quotes that I reference, the URLs that are referenced in the presentation, these are all going to be put on my Pinterest for marketing board on Pinterest. So please make sure you go there if you want to get access to the list of tools, as well, as you know, the original sources for a lot of the data that I show. It was utilitarian, it was social bookmarking. So now I do the same thing. You know, hey, if you're looking for some great resources, maximize social business.com in itself is a resource. You know, I've had a campaign of trying to promote this employee advocacy ebook that I co wrote with the people people links, and I got a reply. Hey, if you have any other you know, Twitter resources, please let me know. And I don't have a Twitter ebook yet just coming in the future. But I do have you know, 20 or 30, blog posts that maximize social business relating to Twitter, so I can send them that link. And it's a similar thing with Pinterest. You're looking for infographics, you're looking to do some research and data? Well, I have, you know, 49 different boards on my pinterest.com/neal Schaffer Cartwright now that you can use almost like a social bookmarking, right, but in a visual way. So what is the utilitarian part of a Facebook group? Well, it's very simple. In my humble opinion, it's very simple. You know, why do you use Twitter? Well, a lot of brands started using Twitter for marketing, obviously. But then they use it for big data analysis, or they use it for customer service. Hey, if you're looking for real time customer service, we have people on standby on Twitter, please contact us there. Well, what is what would a Facebook page use for well, maybe Facebook page is where all the fun stuff is. That's where you concentrate all your contests, promos, giveaways, maybe that's what people want, give them what they want, right? What about a Facebook group? Well, it's a community. Okay, so you're encouraging people to talk to each other. Now, a LinkedIn group may be very similar, where you know, we want to get your feedback, we want to talk about issues that impact professionals and impact your career. Well, you know, Facebook can be the same because the same people that are on LinkedIn or on Facebook, and they're probably spending more time on Facebook, and it may just be easier to engage with them on Facebook. So for me what I've been doing He tried to get new members above and beyond sort of this, this promotion that I've done on and off on the different social networks and email newsletter and dropping links and blog posts. And what have you, is, whenever someone asked me a social media question, I say, Hey, I'm only answering social media questions in my community. On Facebook, here's the URL. So you could use it anonymously. If you want to give consumer feedback, feel free to join our brand new group on Facebook, we'd love to hear from you. And you can connect with other brand advocates, other fans of our brand as well, it could be a VIP group for your most important fans or customers. Really, it's unlimited. But you need to have a utilitarian view that it just becomes natural to push people there, right. I mean, I have LinkedIn groups, I don't have the Google Plus community, but the Facebook group, just, I know that that's where majority of people are even the people you see on Google Plus, you know, 95% of them, from my experience, don't have Facebook profiles, the social media gurus will quote unquote, gurus that you think have left Facebook are still actually very, very active on a few groups that have joined on Facebook, at least. So it really is a great place, like I said, engage where people are. And the beautiful thing about this engagement is that EdgeRank actually works in your favor, if groups are getting more of a drink than pages are you can imagine. And if you understand the way that Facebook groups work is, if you join a facebook group, the default setting is that you get notifications when one of your friends posted. So if they are a member of group, and they don't check it out, but one of their friends is a member of that group. And this happens naturally, when they see suggested groups, and their friend posts it immediately as a reminder for them. It's a notification, you know, that shows up that drives people back to the group over and over again. It's really brilliant, actually, in terms of engagement. So that is the first part about how to get new followers. I talked about the word engagement for I was supposed to sorry about that. So let's look at the other side of the equation, which is engagement. If you've ever started a LinkedIn group or even a Facebook page, it's, it's sort of the same, right? I think LinkedIn groups are actually harder. And Facebook groups are harder, because it's about discussions. You're not putting up memes, or photos, trying to get likes and shares. The objective of a group is to get actual discussion from people, and not just comments on what you write her answers to your questions, but you want them to submit their own questions. And then you want your community members to respond to those questions. That's a community, right? Community isn't something that you well, you sort of own it, but it becomes everyone's and only when your community members actually start to pipe in and respond, does it really take on a new life as being a community, if you're gone on a business trip for a day, whatever it may be, the community still lives. And invariably, whenever any community starts, it starts where you have to do all the work until others get engaged. And it's no different than Wow, how am I going to generate engagement on a Facebook page? What am I going to talk about? What questions am I going to ask? What information am I going to provide people that will interest them that will make them want to come back that will encourage them to respond to my questions or the questions from other members when the time arises. And that's really the challenge. And as I've tried to mix things up on Social Media Center of Excellence, I am currently whenever we have a new member, I'm tagging them and welcoming them to the group. I like to think that every person is important, especially in the early days, just had our 50th member, you know, everyone's important, I want everyone to feel welcome. And it gives, it gives me a chance to show that I value them, but also to start up a conversation with them. And invariably, someone else in the group already knows them. And they'll add on to that, right. And there are other members of the group who will welcome everybody just like I do. And I feel they're becoming strong members of the community. So that's sort of the number one thing I do. And that's a good thing to do whenever we have a new member. And if I know the member personally, I can add commentary about them. If I know about them through social media, or about their business, you know, I'll try to personalize it. So that's sort of the number one thing I do. And the number two thing that I do once you start getting engagement, it could become the Wild West, is I created rules. And I pin those rules at the top so that everybody know, hey 100% has been moderated. We want to keep this tightly focused, spam will be deleted, you know, personal things, take that conversation offline off the group, we're going to be very, very targeted. And if I don't accept your post, it's not because I don't like you. It's just because the mission of the group is not aligned with what you want to post. And I think a lot of members really appreciate that. Because there's a lot of spam out there. And a lot of groups that have a lot of spam. And I want people to know that we're going to be very focused and I want them to value it. I want them to I want my group to attain mindshare for what it is versus competing groups wherever they may be in social media. But the next thing is you know, you need to have a combination. Now, obviously, it depends on what sort of group it is. My group is all about the tagline for Social Media Center of Excellence is take your social media to the next level. So it has to be based on a news factor, there has to be some tactical advice, you have to talk about tools. And you have to ask questions. And if you were to ask me, what was my combination of things that I do try to generate engagement, it's almost like a combination of all of those. In fact, I was thinking today, I could probably create an editorial calendar for the group that stretches for, you know, a month, if not a few months, that basically categorizes what I want to post on a daily basis. And I don't post on weekends. And I told people, I don't, you know, weekends we should take, we should take time off, I don't plan on responding on weekends. But you can almost create an editorial calendar for this. Once you create your community content buckets, this goes back to if you've read maximize your social, and my concept of content buckets for a blog by categories. Well, you do the same thing with your Facebook group. And your experiment, right, you always need to be experimenting and finding the things that engage people have already been pretty happy what I've seen, if you're not providing value, if you're not doing something there that you're not doing anywhere else, people will see through it. So I'm really trying to provide unique value, they're introducing unique things, and really almost having an inner circle there. Now, this is a freemium model. Once I launch the paid social media center of excellence, it's going to be a little bit different as to how much I'm able to comment on things because I want those comments, actually to be in the paid community, the form, there will probably go into more depth, but you need to give to get in this society. And that is going to be the focus where I plan to give Yes, I'll be giving on the website as well. But hopefully, by giving here in this community, it sets a very, very strong branding, and really, really strong impression on people. Even if they don't go there every day or engage with anything when they need something, it becomes their number one place to go. And it's interesting. I've seen people post the same question in my group as in other groups, and I want to give them a unique answer, not only based on my expertise, but based on the community members, and the mission of the group as well. And hopefully, over time, you know, we're starting to get people that submit their own questions, which really was the mission of the group is to help, you know, take their social media to the next level, but it's also a place where you can ask your social media for business questions, whether you're a beginner, you know, one of the questions was, hey, $100 and Facebook ads, what's it gonna bite me? And obviously, it leads to a deeper discussion as to what are your objectives, how you define ROI, what have you all the way to, you know, hey, what tools do you recommend to create infographics? These are just obvious examples. There's a lot more going on. So well, you know, this podcast is another way that I'm sort of spreading the word about my community, isn't it. But I also wanted to share with you my own experience, so that when you launch a new user profile on a new social network, or you begin to create a community, because I still think they're underleveraged, I think, finally, you know, b2b brands, and even big consumer brands have caught on to having LinkedIn groups. I don't know how much they're actually, you know, I don't know how many of the groups are very engaging. There's a few success stories out there. But you know, if you have been frustrated with community management or group management, or you're thinking about starting your own group, whether it be on LinkedIn, or Google Plus or Facebook groups, hopefully, this advice will serve you well. And yes, I really do hope you'll join the Social Media Center of Excellence because this podcast is dynamic, in that I was asked today over sushi at lunch, and I wish I had brought my podcast recorder I was, I was telling her, I wish I had we could have done an interview over sushi, it would have been awesome. But I said, Hey, these are not pre planned, I pre planned a topic, which was going to be about Facebook community management. But everything I talked about sort of off the cuff and I tried to you know, we've different concepts of things that I talked about in my speeches and with my consulting clients. And even on previous podcasts, you begin to see these these common themes and social media marketing. But I can't help you on a day to day basis. dynamically, I can only dynamically record my advice through this podcast. And then it lives in a static world, which you download and listen to, but you can't engage with my podcast, but you can engage with me. So I do hope that you'll give the Social Media Center of Excellence on on Facebook, do a search on Facebook groups, sign up for social media coa.com. And I'm obviously really, really excited to launch it because I think that's, you know, there's the science and the art, the podcast and my books and blogs, cover the science the art requires consultation requires understanding your specific situation and providing you targeted advice. And guess what? It's doing it over time and it's a long term relationship. I don't plan on doing something well, hey, buy these four modules and you'll become a social media Jedi. It doesn't work that way. Social media is always changing. Your objectives are always changing. People that use social is always changing. It requires a different approach than what we've seen and that's what I plan to unveil with this. Social Media Center of Excellence I am going to stop there. I do not like to be self promotional fact my friends over sushi they are like me I didn't realize even how to podcast I am I'm not really good at promoting and, you know, I already have, I don't know 70 Something posts up there episodes. But hopefully you've enjoyed it. I always enjoy your feedback I always enjoy when you say Neil really enjoyed listening your podcast, it puts a big smile on my face, believe me. So that's it for today. Wherever you are in the world. I hope you make it a great social day and you'll be tuning in next week to listen to another episode of maximize your social wherever you are in the world. Bye bye, everybody. Thanks for listening to maximize your social. We appreciate your iTunes subscriptions, ratings and comments. If you would like to appear on this show or recommend content, please contact Neal Schaffer at Neil at maximize your social.com Please also make sure to check out Neil's new community the Social Media Center of Excellence at social media ce o e.com. Thanks again and make it a social day.