While Others Are Adding Up Their Connections and Followers, I Build Engaging Community Instead

By Azleen Abdul Rahim

Do you know what is a community?

It is a group of people who are just a step away from being paid customers. That’s what they are.

Community is a group of people who believe in you. They not only believe in you, they also believe in what you say, they believe in your vision, your struggle, your journey and they have a strong faith that you are going to achieve success. Huge success, and they want to be part of your story. These are the same people who will do anything for you, they will defend you from attacks, they will protect you from threat and they will be with you when needed. They are your potential customers, loyal followers who have yet to purchase things you offer which they are going to do so when the time comes. These people are also your friends. Some you’ve already met while some you’ve yet to.  

Why are these people so obsessed? Well, they think they know you well, inside out. Not only that, they also think that you may have done something awesome that they truly admire. You may have changed their way of thinking on something or perhaps you are creating stuff they can benefit from to boost their personal or career growth. They see value in you and you’ve changed their life for the better. They just love at how you help empowering them to grow and a better person and as successful as you are.

Now, that is what I think the true definition of community.

Many people out there prefer to grow their network of connections and followers as many as possible without thinking of consequences. They simply add people without proper filtering, without proper planning and objective. In simpler words, they add people without thinking. They add randomly for the sake of numbers, and not gaining something valuable back. They prefer to be seen as popular from their hundreds of thousands of followers they own. No doubt that this is a great first impression mechanism that they can utilise when the right moment comes. What right moment I’m talking about? Paid reviews. They will get paid by brands to talk and amplify about them. That’s all that they’re going to get. To me this is not a brilliant strategy.

When someone were to come across your social channel and that person sees that you’re having such a mind blowing 250,000 followers under your umbrella, obviously this will open his or her eyes bigger. Automatically they will see you as a cool social influencer, despite the reality is that these followers were quietly being purchased from the internet. But you forget, people are getting smarter. This cool first impression will only last for 10 minutes. Once the person double check your engagements on the majority of your uploaded social posting and see that the number doesn’t quite add up against your huge following, then something is not right. At this moment, they will realise that you are ‘fake news’. Being labeled as fake news is a disaster. It shows that you aren’t reliable.

Why highly engaging community is important to me?

You must understand that human-to-human bonding is created by interacting. We need to communicate with one another. It doesn’t matter whether it is with our friends, our spouses, bosses and subordinates, parents, children, neighbours, siblings and relatives, business partners and new friends, these lovely relationships will evolve only when we talk to them regularly with our heart. Realising this, it will definitely work with potential customers, new customers and existing customers too. This is why I decided to focus on the conversation as priority numero uno when I’m online. I must know how to break the ice quickly, ask the right questions, comment from the right angle and giving advice that makes sense.

I know trust will spark along the way when there are consistent conversations happen regularly. I also know that trust will develop quicker and deeper when the conversation are done face-to-face. This should be the ultimate journey of each conversation being done online.

For me, LinkedIn is my all-time favourite social channel unlike others. I spend more than 10 hours a day here sharing tips and tricks, opinions and insights, ideas and comments as well as jokes too. I feel home when I am on LinkedIn. The community that I have in there are amazing. It is interesting to know that their mindset is within the same frequency as I have. Further, they are all professionals in their own respective way. I am doing the same too on my Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr and Flipboard. However the way I communicate in these channels are slightly different than on LinkedIn. Most of them are Millennials and talking to them requires a different set of words, with less heavy sentences and lighter tones altogether.

Below are the highlights on how I engage my community members.

Sincere Relationship. When I accept someone’s request to be connected or add someone and invite the person to be part of my network ecosystem, I sincerely wish to build a great friendship with him or her. Rest assured that there is no hidden agenda behind that proposition, no intention to sell anything and no intention to do whatever that makes him or her uncomfortable or making the person to forking out any money for anything. I just want to be friends that eventually will turn out to be good buddies and that is it. That’s why if you notice my comments and replies on LinkedIn are smooth, delicate and always make the opposite friends feel comfortable no matter what.

Language. Normally I would use the same language as per the comment made. This will again make the conversation goes smoother. With language and the way I write also can determine how fast I can break the ice. 

Response Time, Faster Than Fast. My community knows that I always reply to almost all comments made. And my reply to them is always below than 10 minutes. Sometimes they ask me whether I am forever free from doing any work as I always reply them way too fast.

Email Notification Is A Must. I receive hundreds of notifications per day over LinkedIn and quite a number of other channels, and this helps me to take note of what I must do next. Not only I set the notifications to be sent to me on all social media channels, I also set similar on the email side too. Email notification will send me a second notification that act as a back up to the first notification sent.

Share My Thoughts, No Holds Barred. When I share my thoughts on LinkedIn and other channels, I prefer it to be done without any image attached to it if possible. I found out that people don’t react to image that aren’t authentic. Authentic here means the image is belong to me taken from my camera or iPhone. Those images taken from the web or search engines are such a turn-off to my audience.  They also don’t react to plain vanilla, emotionless sentences too. They simply skip all these and move on to more interesting, emotionally triggered status.

I Publish Articles. There is no bloody way I can build a huge community of followers not by writing. I write short social posts and publish articles too. I write not only for myself but also for other organisations and portals. This is the only and the best way I know to build engaging followers. I purposely write provoking social status and angry type of status too. The other day, I wrote on LinkedIn a one-sided statement about the local language in the local language, and it garnered more than 2,000 likes and 200 over comments beneath it. Most of the comments there are supporting the statement while the other half opposed it. Awesome, this is what I want. This is what my objective is, to get as many likes and comments as possible. I don’t actually care about the answer. Last year was even better when my published article gained more than 3,000 likes on LinkedIn after LinkedIn Pulse amplified it out. Now that is the real engagement right there. Now that is a real virality right there.

I Have Their Personal Mobile Numbers, You Don’t. Many don’t realise that I have many of my community members’ mobile number. I didn’t ask for it, these numbers were offered to me. That is the power of Direct Message. I manage to bring them from the open comment section within each social media posting uploaded to the Direct Message area. And from the DM side to WhatsApp. How’s that for building trust?

I Bring Them Out For Coffee. Coffee session is very important to me. By the time I invited any of my community for coffee, the trust is all there and the coffee session is basically for me to cement it further. My intention here is to indirectly persuade them to insert me within their circle of trust.

I believe the time will come one day when the friendship will turn into business partnerships, collaborations, commercial arrangements or maybe recommendation to work with another party. While waiting for that moment to come, I prefer to create and expand my network of friends, and enjoy the adventure. And I’d like to recommend you to do the same too.

Engagement is critical to bring my brand to a greater heights of success. So far things are going very well, which explains why they always think of Azleen when they think of Marketing.