How can entrepreneurs use social media to cultivate a community? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Natalie Franke, Chief Evangelist, HoneyBook, on Quora:
Being an independent business owner, solopreneur, or freelancer can be lonely, so it is important to cultivate community–both online and in-person. Social media is a great platform for establishing strong relationships and growing your business.
For all its faults, social media also has the power to enrich the lives of independent businesses by connecting them to peers, mentors, and potential clients around the world. This is why learning to navigate this digital space is vitally important to every business.
My general approach to social media can be summarized in one line: Don’t be a passive consumer of content, choose to be an active participant in connection. I have a few tangible ways to implement this mindset in your life and business:
- Create a connection list – I recommend writing down who you want to prioritize forging a connection with and carving out time to foster building a relationship with them online. This can be done by creating a core list of people you want to engage with across platforms every week or month, and simply sticking to it.
- Create and connect before consuming – If you are only using social media for consumption, you will likely feel worse about yourself and others. However, if you choose to use social media to connect and cultivate a digital community, you will quickly start to experience the rewards. You can start by adding your voice to conversations you care about and sharing what you are working on. I guarantee you will have a more rewarding experience once you start using social media to meaningfully engage, support, and grow with others.
- When you do consume, do it to learn and grow – Information spreads and new communities emerge extremely quickly online. You can benefit from this proliferation of information by seeking out influencers and experts relevant to your business. From video tips to marketing trends and tax breaks, you probably didn’t know about, there are some incredible educators online using their platform to share valuable business information. I highly recommend filling your feeds with industry peers and experts whose knowledge and experiences can help you grow. However, don’t forget to do your due diligence and a little fact-checking before you start hanging off someone’s every word.
- Create online rituals that inspire participation – think of ways you can put content out into the world that inspires engagement in return. Ask yourself, “what do I have to share that others can relate to?” For small businesses, this could look like starting a weekly conversation with your customers in the form of an email newsletter, discussion forum, blog, etc where you can celebrate certain business milestones, engage with customers, and respond to feedback on a regular basis.
Many people are seeking community but fail to take the first step. They join a Facebook group but never comment. They follow someone they admire but never engage or send a DM. My biggest advice for cultivating community is to show up. And don’t forget that social media can also be a catalyst for in-person connection. Find other business owners in your area and reach out. Follow them on Instagram, cheer for them on TikTok, slide into their DMs and start up a conversation just for the sake of it. The intention is not to get anything in return immediately but to build a supportive relationship, and who knows where that could lead in the future!
This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.