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In my post Social Business; Not without Engaged People, posted last week, we established that we need people, an engaged social community, to have a successful social business.

How do you develop an engaged social community?

An interesting question, there are some basics which you need to have in place to attract people to your product or service.

It would help if you have a community from your existing offline business, satisfied customers or members who like your service enough to talk about you. You should understand the fact that “Word of Mouth” is the best form of marketing. The service you provide is fast, reliable, good value, your customers are your employers, no customers, no business. You are willing to go the extra mile for you customers, not because you have to, but because it is the natural thing to do, a no brainer.

Social Business is not mystical, the model described above is as old as business, but it is the exact business model you need to bring online. Easy, well the tech industry would have you believe its very complicated, it’s not. Hard work, yes, but then building your business wasn’t easy, was it? So where do you start?

Strategy, strategy, strategy. Put a serious level of thought and planning into how you want to be portrayed online. Do not just jump in and open accounts on Facebook and Twitter this usually ends badly. Do not employee an intern with a Facebook account to start you off. Just because they might have 1000 likes does not mean they understand business engagement online. You would not put a brand new sales person in charge of your top accounts, would you?

As an example of a successful Irish site you should look at Simply Zesty. They are still in start up mode as they are roughly 3 years old. They have being very successful in establishing themselves as leaders in their field in a very short space of time. They stumbled around at first and hit on the fact that their blog was the key, they now blog 4/5 times a day. Obviously they have great content as well but the blog drives the traffic to the site.

This is a successful strategy for Zesty, what will your strategy be, depending it could be video content, text content or blogging. They are three popular routes but in themselves are a not a guaranteed route to success.

Sharing free content is now accepted as being one of the key ways to convince the online community that you are authentic. One company recently posted on a blog how it’s business had grown due to a new partnership. This included sensitive information that their opposition could use to match their new business growth.

Why would they do this? It was a gamble, but the thought process was that the online community would respect them for it and support them, which is exactly what happened. They got massive online “word of mouth marketing”, their action was covered across the business blogging community.

Online marketing needs time and effort, but then anything worthwhile does, have fun with it and kick it around. Below is a link to a 2 minute YouTube video, enjoy.