When it comes to creating a flourishing, well-connected online community, social media is your friend and not-so-secret weapon.
But still, sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly what actions to take to make sure you are fostering resident engagement and maximizing the impact of your social media output.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our 21 top tips for creating and maintaining a thriving and engaged online community.
21 Tips for Creating a Thriving Online Community Using Social Media
While social media isn’t exactly rocket science, it can be all too easy to let your standards slip when it comes to effectively engaging with and serving your local community online.
You’ll find that some of the following tips are deeply practical in nature, while others will probably seem like just a bit of fun by comparison. All of them, however, will help contribute in their own way towards creating and maintaining a thriving online community that is better connected and informed.
Social Media Tip 1: Actively Engage with Comments
Comments (ok, most comments) were made for a reason and should not just sit gathering dust. Try to engage with the opinions expressed by residents online and encourage meaningful discussion.
Social Media Tip 2: Share Fun and Informative Things
Remember, not everything that you share needs to be super serious – have some fun with your social media output and try to share things that are entertaining as well as informative and useful.
Social Media Tip 3: Share Activities and Class Registration Details
Every time you open a new class, course, or league for registration, promote it via all your social media channels. Include a link to register online directly, using your recreation management software.
Social Media Tip 4: Encourage Participation in Town Halls and Council Meetings
Leverage your social media accounts to keep residents informed about upcoming Town Halls and Council Meetings, and to encourage greater attendance.
Social Media Tip 5: Always Include Photos in Your Posts
Photos are more likely to gain the attention of citizens scrolling through news feeds.
Social Media Tip 6: Avoid Using Stock Images
Where possible drive engagement with high-quality, local photos and imagery.
Social Media Tip 7: Use Video Where Possible
Just as photos are more engaging than text-only posts, videos are more attention grabbing than photos.
Social Media Tip 8: Share Video of Important Events
Record portions of important community events and share the footage to create greater resident cohesion and engagement. Remember, a picture tells a thousand words, so imagine how much you can communicate with a video.
Social Media Tip 9: Share Local Articles and Blog Posts
Keep residents well informed by regularly sharing stories of interest published on your local government website.
Social Media Tip 10: Create Bios for Public Facing Community Leaders
If you haven’t done so already, you should create bios for your community leaders and promote them individually via social media channels.
Social Media Tip 11: Encourage Residents to Share Their Participation in Community Activities
Boost awareness and engagement with local events and activities by encouraging residents to share their own experiences.
Social Media Tip 12: Invest in a Communications Tool
This will allow you to schedule social media posts and other citizen communications in advance, via multiple platforms and channels.
Social Media Tip 13: Create ‘Event Pages’ for One-Off Events
For individual community events and one-offs, create an event page to promote the occasion and allow residents to RSVP that they will be attending.
Social Media Tip 14: Consider Paid Ads for Important Community Events, Classes, and Courses
Consider paid Facebook advertising to promote your most important community events, classes, or courses, especially those that are revenue generators for your community.
Social Media Tip 15: Stream Key Community Events on Facebook Live
Use Facebook Live to stream live footage of key community events, like the final five minutes of the junior basketball league play-offs, or part of a demonstration of glass blowing from one of your art classes.
Social Media Tip 16: Get Feedback with Facebook Polls
Solicit feedback using Facebook polls. Ask community members what types of classes and events they’d like to see offered in the future, using an easy-to-manage Facebook poll.
Social Media Tip 17: Our Top Twitter Tips
When sharing news and promotions about your community events on Twitter, add relevant hashtags to help people not already following you to find your stories. For example, if you’re promoting registration for your new archery class, add a hashtag for your community name, and consider such additional hashtags as #archery, #archerylessons, and #CommunityNameEvents.
Social Media Tip 18: Our Top YouTube Tips
YouTube has a diverse demographic within its subscriber base, including the 65+ age group. The searchable nature of this platform ensures your content reaches the target audience. Use key search terms in your video post title and description to help amplify the reach of your social video content.
Social Media Tip 19: Our Top Instagram Tips
Instagram is an impactful way to engage with younger community members. Use it to upload photos taken at recreation events in your community. Just like with Twitter, use hashtags and add location identification tags for your community facilities. Encourage those who attend events to tag your community profile as well, to increase shares and followers.
Social Media Tip 20: Our Top Pinterest Tips
Create a Pinterest Board for each of your primary, community recreation events, leagues, and classes. Cultivate photos as a further strategy for promoting community programs.
Social Media Tip 21: Our Top LinkedIn Tips
Like Facebook, LinkedIn offers targeted advertising opportunities. Without the need to spend significant ad dollars, you can target those in your community based on their interests, ages, and hobbies. For example, target active adults between 18 and 65 with ads for your adult, community soccer league.
Keeping Your Online Community Thriving
Phew! That was a lot to take in, right!? But when it comes to engaging your community, social media never sleeps, even if you need to every once in a while.
The above tips will be sure to keep you on the right track when leveraging social media to successfully build and maintain a thriving and engaged online community.
To avoid your social media standards slipping, and your community engagement levels dropping, try reading through these tips every now and again to see if you are maintaining best practice and keeping up the good work.
Here’s a social media checklist to help you ensure all your accounts are up to date, compliant, and risk-free.