Building Social Media Reach Through Community Building

Stefanie Soehnchen

Social MediaMore followers, more reach, more engagement – the list of KPIs for corporate social media communication looks something like this. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about positioning people or about corporate content. What many forget here, however, is the “social” in social media – and thus also that there should be a “give” before the “get”.

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Unlike community management, which is primarily about managing one’s community on one’s social media page, community building focuses on content engagement and networking outside of the already existing community.

Researcher Vanessa van Edwards distinguishes between “adders” and “subtractors” in content interaction. By this she means that some users offer something positive through their behaviour, while others contribute something negative.

While some interact positively with content from other users – for example in the form of thanks, an appropriate anecdote or additional knowledge – others simply ignore the content or spread destructive comments.

There are advantages for the content creator to be one of the adders:

  • Posts with more engagement get more organic reach. This means that this content is more easily distributed / more frequently displayed.
  • When someone interacts with a post, it is also shown to that person’s network. So the person posting automatically gets access to the network of the person interacting.
  • Users who have already interacted with the post will in most cases receive a notification about the new comment and therefore often come back to respond – which in turn means more engagement and more reach.
  • When knowledge or a learning is shared, the poster can learn from it as well as his/her network.
  • Potential collaborators of the poster will see that there is a vibrant community that shares constructively and may decide to invest. The same applies to potential clients.

Advantages for one’s own reach

Obviously, then, it is both more congenial and beneficial to the content creator if adders take the time to contribute.

In fact, ideally, it even creates a win-win situation for both sides. It also has many advantages for the adder’s own content and presence:

  • Anyone who is visible with a positive contribution among popular or even specialist posts attracts the attention of the publisher(s). This means that this person will probably look at the profile of the commenter and possibly familiarise himself/herself with the content there. He/she is also likely to be more open to a contact request.
  • In addition, this person’s community registers the helpful comment. He/she may also become curious about the profile and may want to network.
  • The likelihood of someone following/networking increases – and so does the likelihood of similar interaction with one’s own content in the future.
  • Anyone who uses hashtags in his/her comment is joining a larger discussion within the context of this third-party post.
  • Basically, adder behaviour in the social network creates a culture and atmosphere of constructive, professional interaction. If enough people take it to heart, it can have a positive effect on the atmosphere of the entire network.

Regular community building recommended

Community building is a way to increase one’s own reach by first giving someone else a higher reach.

Although this type of interaction does not cost a budget to begin with, it is nevertheless resource-intensive. It takes 30 minutes per day and per channel to find good posts for an interaction that goes beyond “congratulations”. On top of that, the post also has to be worded accurately.

In fact, however, it is part of professional social media communication – just like good community management.

This kind of community building also works with brands as senders, by the way – but then it requires even more tact and a clear, non-promotional adder mindset if it is to work.

Those who act inappropriately, in a promotional or intrusive manner under the corporate flag can cause reputational damage. However, if you think it through well (and if in doubt, rather act less, but in a targeted manner) and offer real added value, you can also achieve the described effects at a corporate level.


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