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How to Use Social Networks to Build Your Online Community

You’re going to find that when it comes to bringing in new members for your online community you’ll have to rely on the fine art of conversation. “Hey y’all come join my awesome community” is never going to fly. Like blogging, social networking is about building relationships and seeing where they take you:

  • Follow or friend the people and brands you feel will benefit to your community.

  • See what they’re saying and respond in kind.

  • As folks begin to follow you ask questions and interact.

  • Share some links — not only to your content, but other interesting topics relating to your niche.

  • Make sure that your content (tweets, status updates, and so on) is more conversation than links.

  • Take part in hashtag chats on Twitter where you may even be encouraged to talk about your community.

  • Join Facebook fan pages and discussion groups to take part in the conversation and hopefully drive traffic to your community.

  • Every now and then, invite folks from your community and the social networks to participate in a comment thread, contest, promotion, or debate that’s taking place in your community.

Notice how there’s no real pitching going on? Working the social networks and building relationships is one of the favorite community management tasks because you’re spending time chatting up some truly terrific people.

Most of the people who join your community aren’t going to join your community because you asked them, but they may follow you there from somewhere else. Be sure your bio or profile says a bit about you or the brand and links to your community.

New members like to think they discovered a great new spot, even if they don’t want to admit you guided them there in the first place.

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