You Have the Content, Now Create an Engaged Community

How to grow your community organically and with help from targeted advertising.

When developing your engagement strategy, it’s important to consider how you go about growing the community you plan on engaging. Online communities require work, and they don’t pop up overnight, but it’s often not as hard as people might think.

The best communities are ones that grow organically—meaning that your audience found your content, found it interesting and made a choice to opt-in and receive more of it. If you’ve taken steps to build a community organically, you may also be able to supplement and increase your success by advertising on Facebook, Twitter or Google. Each platform offers unique tools to target audiences and to help you reach more people interested in your cause and content. Check out these guides from Facebook and Twitter on how to best advertise on these platforms.

Grow Your Audience Organically

When people visit social media websites, they are looking for content that interests them and provides value. When developing your content strategy, it’s important that you think about what your target audience will find valuable and what content they will share.

Remember, social media is about conversations. People distrust content that is overly promotional. With that in mind, make sure you include some engagement strategies in your content plan. For example, it’s a good idea to engage people with similar interests by sharing their content or interacting with your audience through comments.

Some simple best practices for growing your audience organically are to:

  1. Listen to what they’re saying
  2. Engage with them in meaningful conversation
  3. Mix up the types of content you provide

Grow Your Audience through Advertisements

Advertising on social media and Google is an important consideration when planning your engagement strategy. More than 1.4 billion people use Facebook. More than 250 million people around the globe are active users on Twitter. On both of these mediums, posts and tweets get more visibility when they’re backed by a financial investment.

With social ads, you can micro-target your audiences by their location, age, interests and more. These controls ensure that your ads are relevant and targeted, increasing the likelihood that your audience will subscribe to and join your cause. A good strategy for running social ads is to determine a consistent daily spending limit, increasing your budget around specific opportunities, like key events related to your cause. If you haven’t already, take advantage of Google Ad Grants for nonprofits, which offers a monthly stipend of free keyword advertising. However, if your budget does not allow for a consistent daily spend, try putting your dollars behind your most important and compelling stories. To improve the chances of your content is being seen, take a look at Facebook and Twitter’s advertising guides.

Identify Influencers

Another good practice for growing your community is to identify and promote influencers who can be ambassadors for your cause. Identify key people who have a regular presence and voice in your community. For each person you identify, create an opportunity for him or her to more directly contribute to your storytelling efforts, perhaps by sharing a photo, a story or feedback about the community. This engagement will help expand your reach and increase your audience by tapping into your influencer’s network.

When growing your community, the most important thing is to build a virtual space where people can go to engage in discussions with others who have similar interests and share a common cause. Take the time to understand how your audiences reacts to new information or stories. You’ll be up and running in no time!