4 Strategies to Win the Community-Building Battle

What makes a community special is its members. Their actions and loyalty allow it to last and thrive.

However, the magic won’t happen by snapping your fingers. Your audience needs good reasons to “meet and greet” regularly. One of them is the amount of giving without expectations. Another is the two-way, non salesy conversations. And there is also your willingness to make them part of your story.

So, what are some tips a brand can use to entice people to “come for content and stay for community,” to quote Vanessa DiMauro? You ask one of the best communities around. Yes, I’m talking about you, #BizHeroes members.

In this article, I am bringing you four strategies based on the best advice from two of our recent chats: “Brand Building Through Micro-Communities with guest Robert Moore” and “Getting Started with Podcasting with Cheval John.”

Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comment section.

1. Identify Your Obstacles

In 2006, there were about 35 million blogs in the world. Fast forward nine years; we are now at almost 300 million. And this is just the aggregated numbers for Tumblr and WordPress! There also more than 3.1 billion Internet users.

How do you, as a brand or marketer, make the most of these numbers? As the #BizHeroes community will tell you, you start with the basics: Take a realistic look at the challenges in front of you. And when it comes to content marketing, there are quite a few.

The most important one is identifying your audience accurately. Without that data, you will end up with more challenges on your plate. For example, you will have a hard time reaching readers at the right time and on the right platforms. Also, you won’t be able to address their pain points or tap into the emotions they crave with your content.

Good content does not just serve. It also speaks to its recipients in a way that makes them want to “amplify and share”.


  Now, what is the second biggest obstacle? Visibility! In this day and age, major companies have been hiding the sun with their expensive social media ads and campaigns. And “audiences are overwhelmed with content.” (@Liliholl)

Other challenges mentioned by the #BizHeroes community include:


2. Stop Obsessing Over The Size of Your Community

In 2013, after British Airways had lost his father’s luggage on a flight to Paris, businessman Hasan Syed bought some promoted Tweets to chastise the airline. Many publications covered the news, which forced the company to apologize publicly.

One article drew the “ire” of Gary Vaynerchuk. His subsequent video rant exposed our long-standing obsession over numbers:

“Every consumer’s word does matter. Word of mouth is at scale now and has infrastructure to go somewhere. We need to start thinking about that in a very serious way, because we completely misunderstand it.”



Before jumping on the social media bandwagon, big brands already had huge audiences. And these audiences naturally followed them on Facebook or Twitter.

If you are a smaller business or a marketer, this scenario is unlikely to happen. You will have to dig to find your audience and initiate the conversation. So, instead of obsessing over ways to increase numbers, understand what is at stake.

You are not in business to please everybody. Your goal is to build lasting relationships with the consumers interested in what you have to offer. And the best way to achieve that is to focus on developing a micro-community.

Here is why, according to the #BizHeroes community:

– “Smaller, niche communities are more focused. Usually it’s more organic, there’s personalization happening” (@LorrieGuerrieri)
– “Smaller communities allow for more personal connection.” (@AskWhatNext)
– “Smaller subset communities attract higher levels of all round fervency.” (@GaryBloomer)
– “Small communities can also be regional – giving small companies an opportunity to connect w. the right pple at the right time.” (@lifeofaworkgirl)
– “You can be seen and heard in micro communities. Instead of fighting for the spotlight you’re working w. the people.” (@lifeofaworkgirl)
– “What’s great about niche communities is that there is a genuine emotional connection. People eager to share in your growth.” (@LorrieGuerrieri)
– “Small communities are often be the most passionate. That passion can empower and elevate your biz! It’s the energy, not the size!” (@MadisonJonesHR)


3. Listen, Listen, Listen

  “So, how do I find my micro-community?” Glad you asked! You leverage social media, of course.

On Twitter, for example, monitor specific hashtags, handles, and keywords; and join Twitter chats in your field. Consider other platforms too: LinkedIn Groups, forums, live streaming sites, etc.  


Scouring social networks for answers can quickly become an overwhelming affair. Fortunately, there are great tools to make your life easier, including Right Relevance, Google Alerts, Popurls, Bitly. Use them to find out the content that makes people tick and how well your own content is doing.

There is a specific tactic, though, that will bring you some incredible results — ‘Link Listening’.

Link Listening is “a specific Twitter search query that allows you to find Tweets that contain links from specific sites” (@MediaLabRat). For example, you can use it to:



  Twitter Search is not the only tool to surface that data. Consider checking out Spider by oneQube, TweetDeck, HootSuite, and Twitter Analytics too!  

4. Give Podcasting a Try: A Short 101 Guide

Another benefit of link listening is the ability to understand the content format your audience wants. And in 2015, chances are that it will be audio-related.

In the U.S. alone, 46 million people listen to more than at least one podcast every month — or 21 million hours daily.

There are several reasons for the success of that format. Podcasts allow multitasking. You can listen to them at your own pace and take them with you everywhere you go.

For companies or marketers, podcasts offer an opportunity to humanize their brands and engage with consumers at a more “intimate” level, especially those who are visually impaired 


Further, the competition is not as fierce as it is in the blogging world. Cheval John states that, “they are about 300,000 podcasts in the world compared to about 450 million blogs.”

When done well (as in educational and valuable), podcasts function as visibility boosters and advertising platforms, and will be recommended by others.



Getting Started

Before launching your own podcast, consider the following list of tips:

  • Ask yourself the right questions: “Does your customer want it? Do you have the time? How else can I repurpose this content?” (@bdaniell628) – “Why a podcast? Who do you want to reach? What topics do they want to learn about? What equipment you will need?” (@MackCollier)
  • Put yourself in your future listeners’ shoes: “Who your audience is & what they are interested in learning about – how can you make their lives better / easier.” (@samjoyk) – “What will separate your podcast from a commercial? Authenticity. You have to mean it. You’re talking to people, not wallets.” (@MadisonJones)
  • Keep a variety of formats in mind: “You need to know who you’re talking to and what topic you want to focus on. What’s the format of you show, interviews? Solo?” (@LorrieGuerrieri)
  • Understand your purpose: “You must have clear goals on what you want out of your podcast.” (@chevd80) – “Do you have a purpose to express on your podcast? Are your intentions to educate, entertain, or sell? Be authentic and PLAN!” (@MadisonJonesHR)
  • Focus on your favorite topics: “Producing a good show is a huge undertaking! Why do it? Set goals, then choose a topic you LOVE, or you’ll burn out.” (@KerryGorgone)
  • Understand the investment at stake: “Time matters – a good podcast takes time AND effort.” (@CBarrows) – “Know when you’re going to cast (post?) and do it regularly.” (@bdaniell628)
  • Think long-term: “How can you reuse the content? Can you turn it into a blog post? Slideshare deck? Infographic?” (@LisaMasiello) – “Scripts can become reports, articles, videos, JPEGS, info graphics, PDFs, and slide share decks (consider adding email opt-ins).” (@GaryBloomer)
  • Be prepared… “Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Do a dry run with a trusted listener to “red team” your content, delivery & questions.” (@FM_Aubin)
  • …Especially with guests: “Give your guests all the information they need – make them feel comfortable – some people will be nervous.” (@CBarrows) – “Brief them so they know what to expect, involve your audience to send questions in advance so you guarantee listeners.” (@Liliholl) You can also send them a short list of questions.
  • Let storytelling take over: “It’s far more important to focus on a GREAT podcast that tells a great story and provides enough detail, rather than ideal length.” (@morgancarrie) – “I’d opt for informing, educating, and empowering listeners over outright selling: think NPR’s This American Life. Tell stories.” (@GaryBloomer)
  • Provide show notes AND full transcripts: “Transcription is a must for accessibility & SEO. We use a transcriptionist, but there are websites.” (@KerryGorgone) – Kerry recommends https://www.speechpad.com, for example. A cheaper option is Fiverr


Invest in a quality microphone, like a Blue Yeti, Samson Go,  Rode Podcaster USB, or Lavalier microphone. Use a good voice recording software and edit your podcast with a tool like Audacity.

Most importantly, before hitting the record button, make sure that you are in a quiet room:  


Last but not least, add an intro / outro to your recording. You can use Fiverr to get that last part done for you.

Distribution and Promotion

Once you are happy with your podcast, distribute it to services like iTunes, Stitcher, Libsyn, and Souncloud, and embed the file on your blog.

Next, create graphics with Canva to promote your podcast on social networks. Send an email to your subscribers. Upload a short teaser to YouTube and iTunes to entice people to listen directly on your website.

If the podcast features a guest, don’t forget to send them a thank-you note.

Finally, consider including a dedicated section on your site to help people find all your recordings and allow them to easily subscribe.

5. Some Useful Resources

Want more information on podcasting? Here is a short list of resources:


Book: Podcasting Good to Great: How to Grow Your Audience Through Collaboration (Jared Easley)

You may also want to check out the podcasts below for inspiration:

That’s all for today, folks! I hope you liked the tips from the #BizHeroes community!

See you next Monday for a roundup of must-read social media news.

In the meantime, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive our latest articles directly in your Inbox!

Also, join us for the next #BizHeroes chat on Tuesday, April 21. We look forward to reading your insights!

Cendrine Marrouat
Paper.li Blog Staff Writer, Cendrine Marrouat is a French-born social media coach, curator, and author. She is the founder of Social Media Slant and the #smslantchat Twitter chat. Her latest e-book release, "The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences: Build Yours, Keep It and Win", is a comprehensive guide focusing on the four pillars of audience building. Follow her on Google+.

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2 Responses to “4 Strategies to Win the Community-Building Battle”

  1. David Belfort

    Massively helpful post, thanks Cendrine, that was a lot of work. It will take time to digest.

    • Cendrine Marrouat

      Hello David,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      It was a lot of work, but truly worth it. 🙂

      What do you think is an important strategy to win the community-building battle?


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