I have a friend who is building a nice niche community around natural hair. While not entirely new to communications or even blogging, she was new to the concept of building an intentional audience. She asked me for suggestions, and this is what I shared with her:

Four C’s to build a community

1) Content

If you don’t have content, you won’t bring any new value. Concentrate on building out your content in the proportions that matter to your intended audience. You may have a lot to say about a particular niche, but odds are you won’t be able to grow until you widen it out further.

In some cases, you can “farm out” your weak areas to guest posters, but most of the time it just helps to be aware of your tendencies and react accordingly. Others here have written about the need for a real editorial calendar. If you’re on WordPress, there are plugins that help you visualize your publishing schedule and ensure that you’re not over-reliant on certain topics.

2) Context

commitmentIf Content is King, then Context is the Jester who exposes the King’s lack of wardrobe.

A business that wants to succeed in social media can’t do so in a vacuum. Unless you are a publishing dynamo, it’s too much to ask for you to write amazing essays several times per month. We’re just not wired to create completely fresh content. However, your real service to your audience comes through providing context.

Be the person who shares news about your industry (even if it includes your competitors.)

Be the person who points the way.

Be the person who reveals the trends, because you’re in a position to see around corners.

Be a resource, by putting your own context on what others say and do. And don’t forget to…

3) Connect

Your value to the community you build isn’t measured by keeping members within your fence. Your value is measured by how often they come back, and how often they recommend you to others.

Don’t be afraid to link away to someone else’s content. There is reward in being known as the Node that connects people to knowledge or insight. It also doesn’t hurt that you are forging relationships with others in your field of interest. That can open the door for guest posting, collaboration, or even outright referral.

4) Comment

Let’s say you write a piece that is read by 500 people. If you’re lucky, a couple of them will chime in and say “I felt like you were speaking directly to me.” That’s a powerful feeling, and it’s a degree of engagement that makes you “sticky” and unforgettable.

So why do so many bloggers refuse to engage in their own comments?

When someone leaves a comment on your site, you need to set your default behavior to “acknowledge and engage” unless there is a reason to not do so. You now have an opening to talk to that person directly, in a way they can never mistake for a mass communication.

There’s a secondary effect that builds on the first. The more your readers see you commenting, the more likely they are to comment themselves. Will it take more time? Yes… it can be quite demanding. But the people you are talking with are more likely to be the people you ought to be talking with.

All Together Now

These four behaviors don’t have to exist alone. You can make a lot of headway by doing them all at once.

I’m not a fan of “formula” posts, but there’s something very compelling out of this rhythm:

  • Find something interesting
  • Re-publish a snippet
  • Interpret it, with your original perspective
  • Link away to the original
  • Mix it up with those who chime in.

It’s built on originality, authenticity and an understanding of human nature. Not quite as simple as Lather – Rinse – Repeat, but it works.

Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, then why not:Leave Comment Below | Subscribe To This Blog | Sign Up For Our Newsletter |

About Ike Pigott

Ike Pigott

In his previous life, Ike Pigott was an Emmy-winning TV reporter, who turned his insider's knowledge of the news cycle into a crisis communications consultancy. At the American Red Cross, serving as Communication and Government Relations Director for five southeastern states, Ike pioneered the use of social media in disaster. Now -- by day -- he is a communications strategist for Alabama Power and a Social Media Apologist; by night, he lurks at Occam's RazR, where he writes about the overlaps and absurdities in communications, technology, journalism and society. Find out how you can connect with Ike or follow him on Twitter at @ikepigott. He also recently won the coveted "Social Media Explorer contributing writer with the longest Bio" award.

Other posts by

Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://abeerinhand.blogspot.com JayZeis

    I follow many, many blogs, but only “really” follow a handful. Why? #4- people that comment back to my comment, engage me and makes me feel like I am apart of it. Isn’t that what bloggers want?

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      It certainly is.

      As a blogger, you get SO little feedback from the traffic that streams invisibly by. Being hospitable to your visitors goes a LONG way toward bringing them back.

      Thanks!

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Theses are the basic things that all marketers should know, it comes down to being consistence and  on schedule to get things done.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      Consistency is important too, but I would say it’s more than just being on a schedule… it’s a mix of the sorts of behaviors that make your community sticky.

  • http://twitter.com/HashTagRon Ron Morgan

    I’ve been reading a lot of material lately about the lack of comment feedback bloggers get. One of my favourite parts of being a millennial is that although I consider myself decently SM-savvy, I was raised with a cord-phone and an Commodore 64. SM plays with the rules of etiquette, but I don’t see it changing (read: replacing) people’s need for real interaction. Like and Tweet and +1 counters are nice tracking measures for content disbursement… But remember when an RSVP for a party was an actual piece of paper sent via the Postal Service? How disappointing was it when only half of your invitees RSVP’d? And only half of those RSVP’d yes? And only half of those actually showed up? Nonetheless, an amazing, enjoyable event could still be had through the interaction amongst the ~12.5% of the original invitee list.

    Those are the commenters. And I like to think that, being a minority, they should absolutely be replied to and cultivated, thanked for their insight and prompted with probing questions… They are balancing the “media” with a heftier chunk of “social”.

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      Ron, there’s something rather real about reality. And you’re right, feedback is important for growing as an author. Without it, we never get the qualitative data for improving or evolving.

      Thanks for wading in!

      • http://twitter.com/HashTagRon Ron Morgan

        Thanks for having me! I look forward to seeing and reading more from you!

  • http://efanpage.com Sebastian

    Great “C’s”  I would also add customization.  People consume (which can be another C) lots of information.  What makes you unique?  Creating a customized look is just as important as the actual content.  If you have something that is unique more people (in my opinion) may be more willing to engage in your content. There have been many blogs that were awesome but because they didn’t “look the part”, they were often overlooked. 

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      Valid point, Sebastian.

      I would say, though, that much of that differentiation comes about when choosing your templates and your platform.

      There was a time when I was on Blogger where there were only TWO templates that looked even remotely professional. Most people were on it, if they wanted to be taken seriously. Anyone who had the skills to do something different was to be revered.

      But differentiation goes beyond that, as it should since so many will remain connected through email (where your whiz-bang sidebars don’t matter anymore.)

      The best difference-maker is your editorial voice, IMHO.

      Thanks!

      • http://efanpage.com Sebastian

        Agreed!  

        Having a quality, sustainable voice is essential.  Nothing can replace reputation and good content/writing.  However, as more and more social media “experts” arise, finding your place may be more difficult.  I guess I was also thinking about small businesses who may not necessarily know how to develop community.  Customization is a great way of promoting the brand and showing your community that you are invested in quality, which in turn shows you are willing to invest in engaging in the community.

        Thoughts?

        Sebastian

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual Business Assistant

    Thanks for this great post. I loved what you have done here. The design is elegant, your stuff classy. Yet, you have got an edginess to what you’re offering here. All the “c”s were good and i loved the commenting part since it is the one which makes a blogger getting connected with his readers.
     

  • Pingback: Social Media and Online Community Posts From Around The Web - 10,000 Words

  • Emily

    I really like the layout of the article- It is to the point and I will be sharing it with my company.  Here’s another article that expands on the “content” part.  http://bit.ly/r5es50
    It talks about being an expert in your related field in order to earn client trust.  good read. 

  • http://twitter.com/RyanCritchett Ryan Critchett

    Like it man. Simple, reinforcing and, correct. 

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      Thanks Ryan…

  • http://twitter.com/RyanCritchett Ryan Critchett

    Like it man. Simple, reinforcing and, correct. 

  • http://twitter.com/RyanCritchett Ryan Critchett

    Like it man. Simple, reinforcing and, correct. 

  • http://twitter.com/RyanCritchett Ryan Critchett

    Like it man. Simple, reinforcing and, correct. 

  • http://twitter.com/RyanCritchett Ryan Critchett

    Like it man. Simple, reinforcing and, correct. 

  • http://twitter.com/RyanCritchett Ryan Critchett

    Like it man. Simple, reinforcing and, correct. 

  • http://twitter.com/Ri2kBags RI2K Bags

    Nice piece, we’ve taken a similar view in our approach to social media engagement – 1) content 2) context 3) connection 4) conversation

    People will engage with content (whether it be a post, video or image)
    in the context (where does it sit and in what capacity) of what
    resonates with them at a personal level. By placing content in the right
    context, we’re able to form connections with people (by becoming a fan
    or follower), which crucially foster conversations.

    http://www.whosedwhat.com/2011/03/23/the-4-c%E2%80%99s-of-successful-social-media-engagement-content-context-connections-and-conversations/

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to The Global Language Association (GLA)

    GLA is the
    first Global Association which aims to categorise and connect all
    globally placed language entities under a single umbrella.

    GLA
    is a unique concept in the list of associations available globally. It
    not only categorises Language companies/agencies, but also categorises
    Language schools/universities, Interpretation & Sign language
    companies, Language associations and Language experts along with all
    major Private & Public companies which can benefit from the Language
    industry.

    “Helping defuse the language barrier, globally!”

  • Anonymous

    Nice piece, we’ve taken a similar view in our approach to social media
    engagement – 1) content 2) context 3) connection 4) conversation

    People will engage with content (whether it be a post, video or image)
    in the context (where does it sit and in what capacity) of what
    resonates with them at a personal level. By placing content in the right
    context, we’re able to form connections with people (by becoming a fan
    or follower), which crucially foster conversations.

    http://www.whosedwhat.com/2011/03/23/the-4-cs-of-successful-social-media-engagement-content-context-connections-and-conversations/

    • http://occamsrazr.com Ike Pigott

      There are many variations on the theme, but you’re right… it comes down to reinforcing the behaviors that make people want to come back.

  • http://twitter.com/AtTheDT At the Devil’s Table

    Excellent advice. I’m going to put it into practice, today.

  • http://twitter.com/sirpa_aggarwal Sirpa Aggarwal

    Thanks for this excellent and practical advice.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to The Global Language Association (GLA)

    GLA is the
    first Global Association which aims to categorise and connect all
    globally placed language entities under a single umbrella.

    GLA
    is a unique concept in the list of associations available globally. It
    not only categorises Language companies/agencies, but also categorises
    Language schools/universities, Interpretation & Sign language
    companies, Language associations and Language experts along with all
    major Private & Public companies which can benefit from the Language
    industry.

    “Helping defuse the language barrier, globally!”

  • Pingback: Mi resumen de la semana: n. 78 | Blog de Marketing Online de Tristán Elósegui

  • http://www.e-ramo.net/services.html web development company

    Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all of us you actually know what you

  • Pingback: razor