Community, Volunteers, and Fans, Oh My!

On Monday we addressed bad teams and failures. They’re part of life and not something we can really avoid. Today I wanted to talk about something that’s been around forever but is something we’re seeing more and more in this social world: the power of a community. As business owners we’ve always valued when satisfied customers tell their friends how great our business is, not to mention free publicity we get, but over the past few years we’ve really worked hard to harness the power of community through social media. Call them volunteers, call them fans, call them your street team, these are the people that we depend on to make our budgets go just a little further and reach into groups of people we would never get a foothold with otherwise. In this month on teamwork it’s important that we take a little time to discuss this very important aspect of our teams and businesses, what they can do for us and what we can do for them.

Let’s start with ways we fail our community. I could come up with a ton of ways I’ve been hurt or failed as a community member, but I’ll just touch on a few of the biggest and most obvious, and also the easiest to fix. First, ignoring them is a great way to lose their interest and willingness to do something for you. I’ve been introduced to people through a seminar or event and it’s been years before I’ve heard from them again. All of a sudden they think I’m interested in hearing from them years later and they ended up missing out all those years ago. If you really want your community to stick around for you, you have to stay in touch with them consistently.

The second way communities are failed is by a lack of appreciation. If you really want raving fans not only will you have a great business they’ll be happy to buy from, you’ll recognize them for their support. Maybe this is in the way of a fan club that offers discounts or gifts to the most loyal of fans. Maybe this is a meal after they’ve volunteered at your event. But even something as simple as a “thank you” and some verbal recognition can mean the world.

If you want to make the most of your fans, your community, your volunteers make sure they’ve got the tools to share you with the world. Consistently post on social media, give them the business cards to pass out, have an easy-to-find (mobile friendly) website, post your most important information clearly (hours, location, costs, contact info etc.), send out a weekly email newsletter, offer buy-one-share-one deals, the list goes on. But when you’re nowhere to be found or your information is incorrect or you just seem like you don’t care neither will they.

Have you supported your community throughout the life of your business or do you have some apologizing and catching up to do?

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