The Power of Online Community

By Ange Hammond

In my line of work, I often hear people’s opinions about social media and they’re not always positive. I get it; social media can be time-sucking, energy-draining and can leave us feeling that it’s not really worth it. It’s not always quick to show its value. I see many soulful entrepreneurs give it a go and then after a month their posts become fewer and fewer until eventually their Facebook or Instagram account lies dormant… and I can’t help but think of the opportunities to connect with current and future clients that have been missed.

Social media helps your business to branch out to a wider audience, reaching more of your ideal clients. This form of marketing takes time, dedication and inspiration. For me, Instagram is a favourite and to this day I'm still blown away by the community spirit, support and connection that can be built over time.

One example of this is my long-term connection with Tea Coup. I came across Fehreen's Ayurvedic Teaologist Instagram feed a couple of years ago and instantly fell in love with her style of posts. They were colourful, tea-inspired and full of life. I instantly followed her. She followed me back. From then on, we've mutually liked each other’s posts and on occasion also commented on photos that particularly moved us. Without meeting Fehreen in person, I felt a special connection of mutual respect and shared inspiration.

I couldn’t resist; I did have a look at Fehreen's website from time to time and the thought kept coming to me, "I would love to redesign her website". Her professional photos of both her teas and of her family were beautiful and in my mind's eye I would create her new website. It showcased those photos and her obvious passion for all things tea. For those of you who know me well, I’m a huge fan of tea, so it only seemed natural for me to work together with Fehreen. Maybe… some day.

Fast forward to the start of this year and seemingly out of the blue I received an email from Fehreen and it had happened... the solid connection on Instagram had translated into a website redesign enquiry. I was beyond elated… I couldn’t contain my excitement at the possibility. Yep, that’s my passion shining through! I loved that this enquiry had occurred so organically, without any hard-sells, spamming or convincing... just a strong sense of "you're the one to help me" that can only come with trust over time.

And it did take time, just like a pot of tea that has been steeped to perfection. It wasn’t until July and I was in Glasgow when Fehreen made the final decision to have her website redesigned. Soon after, I continued my digital nomad journey to Ubud, Bali, where I worked on the website design, with the help of both the colourful Hindu daily rituals that surrounded me and the valuable feedback received from both Fehreen and her family. I arrived back in Brisbane last month and all the pieces of the website puzzle came together. Something truly beautiful was launched, on a full moon, the perfect culmination of energy, patience and inspired co-creation.

This is the power of online community. The time and energy that goes into composing Instagram photos and writing email newsletters for me is invaluable. The connections formed and nurtured reaffirm my commitment to following this path.

Here are some quick tips to help you create a powerful online community:

  • Find one or two social media platforms that feel right for you. Signing up to every platform isn’t necessary.
  • Be regular with your posts. For example, I try to post on Instagram every day and failing that, every other day.
  • If you’re posting photos, use ones that are striking and engaging.
  • Think quality, not quantity when it comes to the accounts you follow.
  • Be creative with your posts and have your online community in mind when posting.
  • Use relevant and popular hashtags to broaden your reach.
  • Engage with your community. ‘Like’ posts, write meaningful comments on posts and encourage your community to comment on your posts too.
  • Let your personality and interests shine through, so that your tribe can more easily connect with you.
  • Let go of expectations. Offer your posts as inspirations to others without expecting anything in return.

Not every connection formed on social media will directly convert into a client or sale, and that shouldn’t be the intention, but indirectly, your online community will sing your praises and offer word-of-mouth referrals to their community. The reach of your tribe is immeasurable, as is your own reach. Support each other like you would a bestie. Only good things can come from there.   

Ange Hammond is an inspired web designer and director of Resonant Imagery, creating beautifully vibrant and easy-to-navigate websites. She loves working with other conscious entrepreneurs who want to be positive influences in their community. Having just finished her digital nomad tour of the world, she’s embarking on a bold move to Melbourne. She is the author of Conscious Online Marketing, available on Amazon as an e-book and hard copy book. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and via email.

Photo Credit: Tea Coup