Many online community owners, successful ones at that, will praise social media as a required efforts for helping you to get your online community going. It is true, if you tap into social media techniques that actually work, they can be very beneficial for your online community marketing needs. But you also need to play it safe by practicing smart social media marketing techniques when trying to popularize your online community. In this article, we are going to discuss the realities of smart social media marketing and what you should do and should not do in terms of using social media as an outlet to promote and market your online community.

Smart Social Media Marketing Starts with Using Social Media
I would say that in order to use smart social media marketing techniques, you will first have to start using social media outlets to promote and market your online community. Don’t let this scare you away from having an online community. Social media is big. Social media is active. In its own way, social media is already an online community but that doesn’t make it off limits to marketing your own online community outside of social media, in fact, it provides wonderful outlets for marketing your online community. But you have to use it and use it the right way in order to see true success in marketing your online community.

The right way to market an online community using social media, what is that, you ask? There is actually a right way and a wrong way. Let’s take about the wrong way first. The wrong way is the new forum owner joining Facebook, creating a social page for their forum and then updating it once a week with a couple of links to posts made on the forum. It is pure but brief advertising and chances are, the forum owner isn’t going to reach a lot of their fans even if they have quite a few likes. Facebook has designed itself to show friends, pages and groups that members engage with the most. If your fans are not engaging with your page, they will likely rarely see your status updates on their timeline. You have to draw fans in and you have to engage them, getting them to want to visit your page and discuss niche-related topic concerning your forum with you.

When it comes to updating your online community social media fan pages, you must be unique about it. You can post a few links here and there to discussions on your forum but make sure the links are to the better type of discussions, those that will encourage response and don’t make that a habit. Social media is not about advertising forum posts, it’s about engaging potential fans and potential members of your forum. To do that, you will need to post content and media on your social pages that are completely exclusive to that social page and not being posted elsewhere in your forum’s network. Ask questions, share awesome free resources, plug fans and their resources and build a trustworthy following with your fans. If they continue to visit, you will have a better chance of constantly showing up in their timelines. Your goal should be to make your social page one of the actual reasons the fan is logging on to the social networking in the first place, so they can see what news things have been posted on your page!

Smart Social Media Marketing Rule #1: Don’t Rely on Social Media
This mistake is common among online community owners using social media to market their websites. People often hit it off on social media and gain a lot of success, then for some strange reason, they focus all their efforts on using social media as their main source of promotion and marketing tactics. This is wrong. This is dangerous. This should not be favored by anyone. Why? The reason is because social media marketing is an external marketing technique meaning that you have little control over the success of any long-term marketing technique by using social media. Sure, you can become a better social media marketing expert or guru but in the end, the social media company controls how social media works for you.

Let’s imagine a scenario here… Let’s say you join Twitter and create a large following. Your forum is within the automotive niche. You’ve worked hard and dedicated a lot of time promoting your forum on Twitter and creating and unique environment for your Twitter fans. Converting a Twitter fan to a forum member isn’t a challenge for you anymore. But because of your Twitter success, you are really not using any other means of online marketing to promote your forum. You are satisfied with just using Twitter. One day, Twitter announces an algorithm change. They are now grouping interests (such as autos, business, painting, art, etc.) into a system where users must like the category in order to actually see posts from pages that provide updates concerning these interests. Because of this, you lose thousands of views and fan activities overnight because not everyone really understands the changes yet. Now your forum is going inactive. An inactive forum can be a miserable thing to deal with.

Social media is externally controlled. We cannot control it as fans and those running these networks are known to make sudden changes to it. Some of the changes have been significant, too. Some of the changes are geared more towards the actual fans of the network rather than the smaller pool of people using the network to promote their websites and businesses. Take a look at social media, it is based more on pleasing the average non-business fan than it is for pleasing the average business-related entity. This is why we should never completely rely on social media for marketing our online communities because the controllers of the social media platform are not exactly catering to us and they can change things dramatically in a matter of days without really giving us any sort of quick technique to counter the change.

So before using social networks to promote your online community, make sure you are using smart social media marketing techniques so that you can always play it safe. I hope you have enjoyed this article and I hope it has helped you in some way or another. Please support me for writing this article by commenting below and sharing this piece with your friends and on your favorite social media websites. This article was written by Shawn J. Gossman, a long-time online entrepreneur of message forums, blogs and social media based online communities.