Build Your Common Ground: Social Media and Your Online Community

May 12, 2020  •  Marketing Strategy

In ancient Greece, it was the Forum. Across America, it was the barbershops, farm supply stores, coffeehouses, and houses of worship. For as long as society has existed, humans have gathered between their homes and workplaces to socialize, discuss big ideas, and solve their collective problems.

Today, these organic communities seem to be dissolving, but the conversations are still happening. Where did the people go and how can your brand reach them?

Your Community is Now Online

For decades, the automobile held an almost mythical quality in American society. We formed tribes around our brand of choice. We chose cars (or trucks) for what they said about us and our values. For teenagers, the driver’s license was a passport to freedom, an opportunity to get a job, and the beginning of a new form of cultural identity.

Now things are different. Since the mid-1990s, the percentage of high school seniors with a driver’s license has dropped dramatically, from 88.6% in 1996 to 71.2% in 2015. The reasons vary, but the common theme is that having a driver’s license no longer offers as much as it used to. Teens don’t need a car to connect with their friends. Instead, they rely on Snapchat, TikTok, and other social media platforms without ever leaving the house.

Teenagers are not the only demographic that increasingly relies on social media for community. Adults commonly use Facebook to connect with family and old friends or to discuss current events (for better or worse). Twitter offers real-time news and entertainment like no other media. For example, during the Arab Spring, Twitter was a vital organizational tool for protesters and journalists who were hindered by blackouts on traditional media and communications.

The conversation may be moving, but social media offers your brand a tremendous opportunity to strengthen its platform.

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Choose Your Social Space

To leverage social media for your platform, you shouldn’t try to be everywhere—instead, pick a few choice tools to enhance your goals. We like to think of these tools as embassies for your Home Base. They expand your mission into different communities of people.

When it comes to social media platforms, you have no shortage of choices. Here are a handful of the most effective options and why you might choose each:

Facebook: The world’s most popular social media platform offers no shortage of opportunities for your brand. You can publish content from videos to blogs, connect with large groups of like-minded people, and create a forum for conversation in which word count is no issue.

Twitter: Quick engagements rule on Twitter. Link to new blog posts, join conversations in real-time using industry-specific hashtags, and stay top of mind by posting multiple times each day while keeping your time commitment at a minimum.

Instagram: If you want your brand to have a more human touch, Instagram allows you to share photos, short videos, and real-time content called “Stories” that frame your brand in everyday life. You can even do live videos and answer questions from followers.

LinkedIn: If business is your thing, LinkedIn makes it easy to connect with like-minded people, share your expertise with peers, and even recruit talented people for open job positions.

Pinterest: If your business relies on aesthetics (art, design, etc.), Pinterest allows you to show off your good taste with carefully curated groups of content called boards. By sharing what inspires you, you will increase loyalty to and trust in your work.

YouTube: If video content is a cornerstone of your brand, YouTube is indispensable. Create your own channel, freely publish content, and connect in the comments. Additionally, YouTube is now the world’s second-most-popular search engine, so it’s a great way to be found.

Snapchat and Tik Tok: Are Millennials and Gen Z-ers critical to your business plan? Are you feeling adventurous? Snapchat can make communicating with your followers fun and spontaneous, while TikTok is turning content creation on its head. It’s…weird, but that’s part of the appeal.

Whichever social media platforms you choose, the goal is to do it well. So don’t over-commit. We’ll see you out there.

About John Meese

John leads a team focused on simplifying online marketing for professionals as the Dean of Platform University and lives in Columbia, Tennessee, with his wife and three beautiful children. You won't find him on social media, but you can connect to him personally on his blog: