The Rise of Micro-Communities in 2016
The days of massive communication are no longer as appealing as they once were.
Social media networks face growing challenges as users spend more time looking for authenticity online.
In search of meaningful and personalized engagement, consumers are now slowly moving away from the main feeds of major social networks and toward smaller, more intimate and engaged micro-communities.
The problem of low engagement on social
Leading social media platforms got their hands full with spambots and automation issues. New algorithms are introduced to combat oversaturated News Feeds and the overwhelming white noise from content marketing makes users reconsider who they follow.
In fact, Instagram’s follower growth in February was at 0.2%, a decline of almost 50% compared to January. Engagement rate has also dropped by 70% over the last year.
And marketers still choose to rely on vanity metrics, ignoring their low conversion rate. As for brand awareness, that’s just a last resort measure for when all else has failed, right?
With more users on social, your content simply falls through the cracks. And while vanity metrics sure are impressive, what does your 1M of following do for your brand, when you can’t convert those followers into customers?
The cycles of digital marketing
As a marketer, it’s your job to adapt to new tech and emerging concepts. But new technology development also brings back old concepts, which are now upgraded and enhanced.
When consumers realize there’s nothing left on this side, they slowly cycle back to what they once had abandoned.
Just as we stepped out of forums and deserted AOL to connect globally on social networks, the appeal of connecting on a global scale is starting to wear off. And throughout all this time, instant messaging has been steadily growing, and will most likely continue to do so.
Take a look at some of the growing micro-communities and you’ll see they include some kind of chat or forum-like functionality. When consumers crave real-time interaction and genuine engagement, micro-communities are simply there to deliver.
How to join in as a marketer
Now that you know why micro-communities are crucial for your marketing strategy, how do you integrate into these communities?
First, find out which micro-communities are popular within your niche. Where do your consumers gather to discuss and exchange ideas?
Create a profile and interact with your audience without disrupting ongoing conversations. Develop warm relationships with your potential and existing customers and share content they will love. Link to valuable resources and respond to their questions in real-time.
Make sure your profile on these communities is strong and solid and link it to your marketing funnel entry point. This way you’ll lead traffic directly to your website and encourage engagement with your products or services.
6 micro-communities to get you started
Consider starting with the following rapidly growing micro-communities. Keep in mind that these are places to engage in meaningful conversations with your prospective customers and build relationships with them rather than sell to them.
1. Facebook Groups
Join carefully selected and active Facebook groups within your niche, and start participating in discussions. Establish your authority in the field by answering questions, networking with your potential customers, and actively engaging in conversations. Use these personalized interactions as a way to build awareness and grow interest in your brand.
GroupMe is a group text messaging app you can use to chat with anyone at any given time and place, even if they haven’t installed the app. The only thing you need to add someone to your group is their phone number or email. Create groups for specific segments of your target audience, link to valuable content everyone can see within the group chat, or launch creative, personalized campaigns for your consumers.
3. Twitter Chats
Twitter chats let you connect with your customers and prospects and gain valuable insights into your market. Give answers to common questions or discuss industry topics your customers and prospects would like to know more about. You can host your own chat and choose a suitable, branded hashtag to promote it. Alternatively, you can sponsor one, where you can engage with participants and build brand awareness.
4. Instagram Hashtags
Instagram hashtags is how Instagrammers discover new and relevant content. Create a unique and relevant tag for your brand and encourage your followers to use it whenever they post content related to your product. Use each hashtag consistently throughout your content and interact with your followers. Letting them contribute their own content will spark conversations around your brand, making it the perfect environment for a community that starts small but quickly grows big.
5. Slack Channels
Slack started as a communication platform for business teams but has evolved into a place for niche communities hubs where like-minded individuals can discuss and interact with each other instantly. Despite the growing number of public channels on Slack, the competition is considerably low and you can easily grab your market’s attention. You can overview discussions happening in your channels, encourage engagement, interact with your prospects in real-time and lead them to your website.
A Behance account gives you access to one of the best creative networks online, where creatives within different industries are often on the lookout for their next favorite product. Showcase projects and glimpses into the work of your designers for your newest app and tune into the discussions happening in the comments of each project. Monitor for questions and respond to potential customers, leading them to your website and products.
The days of massive communication are no longer as appealing as they once were. With instant communication becoming a central part of consumer-brand communication, going after smaller communities with a higher engagement rate is a no-brainer for consumers. All you have to do is be approachable, genuine, involved, and meet them where they are.
Sign up here for our weekly digest of top articles, industry news, and conference announcements
Learn more about the next edition of Social Media Week, and how you and your organization can join us for an incredible week!
Want to write for Social Media Week?
We're looking for individuals around the globe to contribute articles on marketing, media, technology, and more.