Last week, one of the members on my team and I had a discussion on the importance of community for small businesses. As small business owners, it becomes easy to focus on keeping the business alive, that most people don’t realize the importance of community in their efforts.
A community is a group of people that feel a sense of kinship with each other because they share similar goals, interests, and attitudes. When people feel as though they are a part of a community, they are more likely to be committed to one another. You may be thinking, ‘What is all this talk about kinship and commitment? Are we talking about relationships?’ Yes, we are talking about that. Small business owners can benefit from building relationships with both customers and non-customers, through various channels which allow people to feel a sense of community.
Below are my top three recommendations for small business owners who want to integrate community into their strategy.
Offer Free Advertising
If you have a local business with a physical space such as a bakery, coffee shop, or beauty salon, consider creating a community board or space where customers can post info about their businesses, nonprofits, or events. When customers see that you are supporting their endeavors through free advertising space, they will appreciate you more. They will also feel good about investing their dollars in your business.
Leverage Social Media
Use your social media channels to transform your audience into a loyal community who welcome your tweets, posts, photos, etc. Social media is the perfect environment to create a community. Unfortunately, many businesses use social media to only advertise or broadcast what their brand is doing–which is not a good idea, particularly when you are a new brand. Leverage social media as a way to share useful and interesting information, photos, and/or expert advice–which complement your brand. Your audience should look forward to your content. Additionally, at least 50% of your content should be unrelated to your company or organization. In other words, no broadcasting special sales, events, products, and/or services all day. If you only use social media to advertise, then your audience will feel used.
Showcase Your Expertise At An Event
Another way to build a sense of community is to have a presence at an event. It may be a workshop, panel, or retreat that needs a dynamic emcee, keynote speaker, or professional with your expertise. Show up at the event and shine. At these type of events your bio will be read and possibly printed in the program. Your name and company will potentially be on the event advertisement and mentioned in the PR efforts. Also, if you are memorable, guests will want to stay in contact with you, so share your contact info at the event. In addition, use social media to share event highlights, photos, and speak to people who attended.
Participating in an event is an organic way to share who you are and what your business is about to a targeted group of people who may be in need of your services one day, or may share your info with someone who does.
All of the recommendations above involve making an investment in others, vs. solely focusing on yourself and/or your company. There is power in community. The more you leverage physical and virtual opportunities to create a sense of community, the more likely you will begin to connect with both customers and non-customers who want to build a relationship with you.
Wishing you all the best, Business Rock Stars!
What ways do you think small businesses owners can build a sense of community? Share your ideas below or tweet them to me @bestrategicPR. #BeStrategic #smallbiz #community
Image courtesy of www.kozzi.com.