Reaching Out to Your Community

In the previous posts, we explained how to find where people are talking about you on social media using Google. This post takes a look at starting to reach out to your community.

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Once you find your constituency online you need to determine how to reach them. Your objectives in this phase are to determine:

  • Networks your community is using
  • How engaged your community is on these networks
  • The conversations already happening about your organization or cause, and where they aren’t happening
  • Types of interactions your community is having within each network
  • What others in your field are doing online

Based on the research results, you can:

  • Measure the average frequency of relevant conversations
  • Identify the more active hubs and communities
  • Recognize the context of the conversations in order to determine time and variety of resources required

Once you’ve found where people are talking, you can determine the magnitude of the ongoing effort to monitor what they’re saying. In his free e-book, The Essential Guide to Social Media,[1] Social Media expert Brian Solis lays out a formula calculating the effort necessary to stay current with what’s going on the relevant communities and the pertinent conversations.

Now the following formula looks complex, but it’s actually quite simple, so bear with us.

Solis’ formula is:

Brian Solis' formula for calculating social media effort

And it is calculated this way:

  • The number of average relevant conversations per day per community — Cn
  • Multiplied by the quantity of relevant communities — Qc
  • Multiplied by 20 (minutes required to research and respond and also monitor for additional responses. You may increase or decrease this based on your experience.)
  • Divided by 60 (minutes)

The calculation results in t, the amount of time you’ll need to spend monitoring social media.

For example, let’s say your community produces 100 relevant conversations per day per community, and you need to track 10 communities. The formula is thus:

Solis formula result
Solis formula result

That means, in this example, your organization must spend five and a half hours per day monitoring your community. Obviously, your mileage may vary, but this simple calculation indicates that to really get a pulse on your community requires a not-insignificant amount of time.

Next up: Engage Your Community

Reaching Out to Your Community is the 21st in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Media Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

See the previous posts What is Social Media?Social Sites DefinedWhy Social Media? How is Social Media Relevant to Business? First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy, and Decide What Your Business Will Do About Social Computing, pt. 1


[1] Brian Solis’ free e-book:

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