We are seeing more brands, professionals, and even enterprise audiences gravitate to creating their own communities. This seems to be the next arena to foster your personal brand, establish long term and sustainable relationships, and provide opportunities to network with others.

Why set up your own community? There are a lot of different benefits here for creating your own community here beyond your personal brand, such as:

  • You get the chance to become a resource on a subject you are passionate about. By creating a space for others to come and join in, they feel they are getting some value in what you are able to share with them. Keep in mind, you have to be active and willing to invest in this community. Creating a community is just the first step – you have to sustain the relationships and overall atmosphere to make it thrive.
  • You get a chance to do your own informal research. If you have an idea you want to get some insights on, ask your community. If you want to see what people are looking for as far as resources and ideas, you get immediate answers back. This is great – you are able to get some data that can help you go one direction or another.
  • You will get unexpected opportunities you never would have been able to get otherwise. By creating a community, you have a chance to reach a variety of different people, which in some circles, could make you listed as an influencer. Of course, communities do not happen over night, but if you are able to create one that others take notice of, you will get requests from others to not only be a part of your community, but to possibly partner on certain initiatives to share that would be relevant for your community.
  • You have the chance to make a difference. Think about the opportunities you can have by helping others and pay it forward. I know when I started my #SMprofs group (which will be discussed later in this post), I had a lot of people saying thank you because they felt they finally found a place where they gained a lot of insight from.

Here are some of the communities I feel are really doing some credible things for their respective industries. Some of these are FB groups, but others are by invitation only or paid entry to be part of the community.

Social Media Masterminds
If you are teaching, working, or a part of social media in some way, you have to join this group. This group has over 3,000 members and you get a sense of the vast range of topics, insights, and questions other professionals have here about the industry. I have found this group to be very helpful in determining what are the current trends, issues, and case studies that need to be incorporated into my classes for my students.

You have to ask to be invited, but it is well worth it. Plus, there are a lot of people here who are willing to bounce around ideas and share their resources, which is always great to see here.

Hootsuite Ambassador Program with Amplify
I am really happy I am a Hootsuite Ambassador, and Amplify makes it very easy to share content on your networks about Hootsuite and social media related topics. What is also great about this community is the discussion board feature for ambassadors.

We have a range of topics available for us to participate in, and what is great about this feature is you get a range of different views and ideas from around the world. It’s truly a global community and the Hootsuite team is very active in the platform as well.

#BrandFood (Jeremy Darlow and Michael Ehlrich)
I have been a fan of the work Jeremy and Michael have been doing for years, and they have created this new community for sports professionals in all industries. They created a community think tank called Brand Food, and the purpose is to provide insights from some of the biggest thought leaders in the industry in sports. From college to the media to the pros, this is a must join community to learn from the best.

What I like about this venture is the fact these ideas are strategic and applicable not just in sports, but in other industries as well. Plus, the way in which Jeremy and Michael have created a community that fosters to all levels of professionals in the industry is great to see here. I would have this as a requirement for my students – and this may be something I will have to add for the next time I am teaching social media. Membership for the think tank is $9.99 / month, and it is well worth it!

Hubspot Education and Student Alumni Group
I am excited to see a brand like HubSpot create a FB group not just for educators, but for students who are in and have finished the HubSpot certification program for one of their classes.

I think it is great to see a company like HubSpot create a group where we can see everyone come together (professors, students, etc) about the programs HubSpot offers and where they are in their careers. There are going to be other additional features for this community as well to keep track of, like resources for students to take advantage of for their future careers, live sessions with professors, and opportunities to network with others. This is a group you want to be aware of and be a part of (especially if you are a professor!).

The Social Media Professors Community
This community had always been around, but the idea came from a research study I was working on with my colleague and good friend, Ai Zhang. We were doing a social media professors study (which we will be presenting this upcoming year at AEJMC). I had the chance to speak with fellow professor Chris Wilson of BYU, and when we were talking during the study, he mentioned how he wished there was a place where people could come together and bounce around ideas related to teaching social media.

That’s where the Facebook came about. This group started in October 0f 2016, and as of today, we have over 222 members of professors and professionals who are active in the education space. I am thrilled with the reception this has gotten from everyone.

With that being said, I realized while a lot of people get their information about social media here, there are others who may prefer another way in consuming this content. This is why I started the @SMprofessors Twitter account to share the content relevant for #SMprofs as of today.

So, now what? You may be asking yourself – how do I create a community? There are several things you can do:

  • Determine which platform or tool you will use to host your community. Will it be an exclusive website? A Hashtag? Or will it be a FB group – will it be invitation only or public? These are just a few things you want to think about before you start launching your community.
  • Invite others to join in and make the announcement. Let people know you have created this particular community and invite others to be part of the conversation. This is where you can think about branding for it (what is going to be the title of your group? what is the name going to be? What about the URL for the site?).
  • Create a hashtag. Even if you are not doing a Twitter chat, you still want to do this so you can create awareness for this community on other platforms.┬áThis is where you see a lot of professionals do this and you can even start a Twitter chat (ex. like #ChatSnap). You want to pick the platform you feel is most appropriate to help foster and grow your community.
  • Provide relevant content that resonates with your community. Don’t spam your community. You are competing for their attention, so you don’t want to lose it over one promoted item or spam they don’t want to get. Share insights that help strike dialogue and engage your community. Make sure you are not the only one sharing content – empower your community to feel comfortable to contributing to the group as well. Encourage them to share, bounce around ideas, etc. You want to serve as a moderator and have an active presence, but also be willing to share your own thoughts and perspectives here as well.
  • Create a positive environment.┬áCommunity thrives on an energetic culture, so this has to be emphasized all the time. People want to be part of groups that are engaging, positive, and upbeat.

Let me know what you think about this. Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,