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Driving Social Media Engagement and Community Building

For businesses, social media is a way to communicate with the public. Using social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter allows a business to actively engage with customers, vendors, or anyone else interested in what the business has to say. However, for this social media engagement to work, a business needs to be able to drive the conversation in a way that benefits the company, while also keeping the growing community it's building interested in continuing the conversation.

Driving the Conversation

The rise of social media marks a new era in business communications. Before the advent of social media communities, business communications were largely limited to a one-way dispersal of information. With modern social media, communication suddenly became a two-way street, with instant feedback from the public.

Because the communication goes both ways, it's important for a business to ensure some control of the conversation. This is done by engaging the public in a way that keeps the discussion active and on topic. Business communication through social media is often used as a marketing tool: Asking the right questions keeps the conversation going in the right direction.

The right questions are any that get the community to respond without harming your business's image in the process. A question does not even have to be directly related to the products or services offered by the business. It only needs to keep the conversation going and the community members returning for more.

Building the Community

The ongoing conversation between the business and the public is a basic method of community building in the social media environment.

Building a community through social media engagement takes time and effort. Asking the right questions is only part of what it takes to keep the public interested and the community growing. You also have to be prepared to answer questions posed to you. Being responsive to the community makes the public feel welcome and will keep individuals returning to your social media site repeatedly.

It’s also a good idea to build relationships with engaged core members. These individuals can help steer overall conversations in a beneficial direction.

The community you build through social media engagement can extend beyond the social media site itself. You can invite community members to join your business's Web site or contact list and use that list to market directly to those who choose to opt in.

Conversation is the key to social media engagement. Driving that conversation allows you to make the most effective use of the social media environment, which in turn allows you to build a community around your company. This community can then be used to communicate directly with potential customers.

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