There’s never enough time in the day when you’re running a community business. But it’s important to make time to engage with your local community to deliver goods or services local people actually need and want. It can also be a great way to ask for help – your stakeholders might have skills they could volunteer. Social media is a great way of reaching people, keeping them up to date with news and stories from your community business, and consulting them. So here are six social media tips to engage your local community.
1. Set up a Facebook page
You might not have the budget or time to keep a website updated. But Facebook is free and easy to use. Set up a business page so you can have unlimited friends (as opposed to a ‘Group’ page which is limited to 5000). Post photos of events and of the people in your community business, be that volunteers, customers or employees. Always make sure you have permission before you take photos of children. Check out Power to Change grantee Bootstrap Company’s Facebook page for inspiration.
2. Get on Twitter
Facebook is great to engage with the local community, but Twitter reaches that little bit further. Tap into community interest groups by searching key words. For example you might be building a straw bale barn. Search for #strawbale and hey presto, a whole new bunch of people to engage with that think what you are doing is interesting and worth a visit. Also useful to use Twitter at events to comment on sessions. Follow other community businesses for ideas. You can follow Power to Change @peoplesbiz
3. Post interesting content
If you always post the same content e.g. a list of upcoming events, your audience will be informed but not engaged. Try and show the more human side of your community business. Take photos of members and explain a little bit about them. Or share your trials and tribulations! Community business Kirkgate Art Centre had bikes stolen which were found in the local canal, and community farm Fordhall had Halloween pumpkins stolen. Although sad, the community rallied in both cases. Share your stories, good and bad.
4. Schedule posts in advance
Use free websites like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule tweets and facebook posts ahead of time. Also check out the If this then that website – great to automate a chain reaction and make your social media take care of itself.
5. Ask for help
Sometimes you’ll need volunteers – for example a digital native to look after your social media. Other times donations or community share offers. Let your community know! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People like to be asked and feel useful so help them help you.
6. Engage with your audience
Running your own business is hard, and a community business can be particularly challenging with lots of different people asking for your time. But try and take at least half an hour a week to respond to any comments or queries. You’re only running a community business if you listen to the community.
Blog post written by Charlotte Cassedanne, Communications Manager at Power to Change.