One of the questions we get most here at Next Step is, “How do I build a social media platform?”
It’s a crucial question, but in the past, we haven’t been able to help since it’s a particular weakness for Melanie and me. Thankfully, we’ve found an expert to share with you whose super-power is building an online presence.
Tonya Kubo is the fabulous social media coordinator for Next Step, and she helps other people– particularly authors and speakers– to build a social media platform. She’s the expert with a warm and caring attitude that we’ve all prayed to find!
Read Tonya’s excellent post below before you go anywhere, but then be sure to click on the two links in her bio to:
- Join Tonya’s free private Facebook group, “The Secret to Thriving Online Communities,” for amazing coaching and community. I’m there, and I’m learning more than I could imagine!
- Visit her gorgeous new website TonyaKubo.com for even more valuable information from Tonya.
On the heels of F8, Facebook’s conference for developers, starting a Facebook Group is a hot topic. The social media giant is redesigning its app to focus on Groups and Events — the features users flock to most in their desire for community.
If you’ve been thinking of starting a Facebook Group, this is a great time to begin a group! A Facebook Group is a great way for speakers and writers to develop community around the messages God has put upon their hearts. Groups are free, easy-to-use and put you keyboard-to-keyboard with people hungry for what you have to say.
Anyone can create a Facebook Group in less than 20 minutes, but just because you can create one on a whim doesn’t mean you should. Savvy communicators are thoughtful and intentional when it comes to serving their audiences. Before you jump in with both feet and start a Facebook Group — or any type of online community, for that matter — there are three critical questions to answer:
- Who will your group serve?
- What is the group’s purpose?
- What does success look like?
A quick note before you begin. If you don’t know your niche, then hit pause and read this article by Lynn Cowell. You can’t even begin to think about creating an online community until you’re clear on who you’re serving with your message. Once your niche is figured out, this exercise shouldn’t take more than 60 minutes to complete.
The objective for this exercise is to help you move forward confidently! Your answers to these questions will form a strategic framework for your group that will foster its growth and prevent you from feeling exhausted by fruitless efforts. Beginning here, with these questions, can help you meet your audience right where they are and that’s our mutual goal.
Who will your group serve?
Knowing your niche is not the same as knowing whom your group will serve. Successful online groups can embrace your entire audience or they can focus on serving a single segment. You might write about infertility but decide to create a group specifically for women trying to conceive, or you might decide to create a group that only serves those trying to adopt. The choice is yours.
Identifying who your group will serve will give you a clear picture of your ideal group member, what he or she needs, and how he or she expects to have those needs met. It will also help you answer the next question.
What is the purpose for my group?
A healthy group has a purpose that serves both the members and their leader. If it is one-sided either way, it is not sustainable. A group that is all about its members with no clear purpose for the leader can be exhausting. And a group that is created to meet the desires of its leader with no attention paid to what benefits the members will fail to thrive. You want a healthy group that has longevity, and that means your need mutually beneficial purposes in mind.
Here are some examples of purposes that serve members:
- A community of like-minded people
- Exclusive information or training
- Access to you
- A private, members-only space to talk more openly
And here are examples of purposes that serve leaders:
- Test a product before launching
- Track and measure results of a program or concept
- Explore audience felt needs
- Cultivate a community of super-fans
These lists illustrate how everything from a private coaching group, to a book launch team, can benefit both the members and the leader. Identifying your purposes for your group will help you avoid the feeling that you must be all things to all people, and it will allow you to manage the expectations of your members. A defined purpose empowers you to serve your audience well, and simultaneously informs the way you lead.
What does success look like for my group?
Defining success before your group launches is the best way to avoid frustration from unmet expectations. If you know your target, you can measure the distance between here, and there.
I caution against measuring success strictly by your member numbers. Engagement is a better marker of success. Engagement — the amount of posts, comments and reactions to posts — is contagious, and it’s the sign of a healthy group. If you’re running a book launch team, you might measure success by the number of online reviews for the book or by the number of times you see your hashtag used on social media. If you’re running an online Bible study, you might measure success by the number of members who report a transformed prayer life as a result of your group.
Starting a Facebook Group — or any type of online community — is one of the best ways to put you in direct contact with your audience, but it has to be an informed decision. By thinking through the questions above, you can determine whether it’s a step you’re ready take.
Tonya Kubo helps communicators build close, connected relationships online by leveraging the power of social media.Tonya’s goal is to make social media less overwhelming and more sustainable for communicators at every level. She manages online communities, book teams and offers coaching/consulting services. Her Facebook Group, The Secret to Thriving Online Communities, is a free resource for Christian speakers and writers who seek to build community around the message of their hearts. Not on Facebook? You can find out more about Tonya at http://www.tonyakubo.com.