Chat apps are the perfect way to build communities of all kinds. They provide a platform for people to communicate and share information with each other, regardless of their location or industry.
They're not just for business. Moms and dads everywhere can rejoice knowing there's a way to socialize with other parents, their kid's soccer team, or their faith-based communities. Moreover, content creators can dance a jig knowing that they don't have to rely on the aging dinosaur we all know begins with the capital letter "F" and ends with the word "book."
The truth is that Shout group chats are a great way to keep in touch with coworkers, gym buddies, and any other social group that's important to you.
Shout users—from sports clubs to charities, from community leaders to thought leaders—have all seen significant increases in member engagement when they start using Shout's direct messaging and group features.
Well, to be blunt, while there are many different ways to communicate with your customers and potential subscribers, we believe that the best way is through a platform that allows for free and open communication.
With no algorithms controlling what you see, no shadow bans silencing your voice, and no ads or spam cluttering up the conversation, our platform provides the most authentic experience for businesses and those wishing to build communities.
In this article, we'll show you how you can use Shout group chats to build social communities of all kinds, the benefits of using group chats for this purpose, and why Shout is the best option on the market for doing so.
What Kind of Communities Can You Build?
Do you belong to a social group of one kind or another? Chess club? Religious congregation? Book reading meetups? Singles get-togethers? Family members?
If you can think of a purpose for a gathering of individuals in either the physical or digital space, then you can use group chats and a platform like Shout to build it. Remember, everyone is texting and chatting these days! (Plus, texts and chat boast a 98% open rate compared to email marketing.)
Social group chats can be an excellent way for an existing or brand new community to connect and engage with one another. For example, Shout's group chat feature allows users to:
- Attach photos, videos, or articles
- Organize and share files and folders within Shout (we've built Dropbox-like folders within group chats to allow for effortless file management and sharing)
- Upload message templates and quick responses to eliminate time sending the same message over and over; and
- Schedule messages in advance
With these kinds of features, you can help community members keep up with the news, start a research panel, organizational recruitment efforts, and so much more.
No matter what the focus of your group is, you've got the chance to segment your target audience and curate content specifically tailored to their interests.
And, we're not even going to debate the potential for massive traffic generation group leaders have at their fingertips here.
If you're looking for an audience engagement channel that provides community leaders with dynamic marketing, communications, and audience engagement opportunities, you really don't need to be looking any further than Shout.
Create Dynamic One-To-One Connections
No other engagement channel provides you with direct two-way access to your community members like social group chats do. Take advantage of this, and be sure to keep your tone friendly and engaging.
Your group members are more likely to stick around if they feel like they're interacting with a real person who cares about them. At the same time, it's important to remember that you're most likely speaking to a wide variety of people, each with their individual needs and interests.
While some topics and products are relevant for all, others will only resonate with specific segments of your community. The key is to make the conversation exciting and engaging for each individual while still responding at scale.
By taking the time to grasp who you want to reach and what they want to hear, you can build a meaningful, loyal relationship with community members that lasts long after they've logged out of a group chat.
Create Something Special For Your Community
Pause for just one moment and consider how group chats give you the chance to light up your community members' phones (and lives) with engaging content on a frequent basis!
Listen, it's no secret that people love feeling special.
With group chats, you can do all kinds of things like creating "exclusive" chats that certain segments of your community may enjoy more than others. For instance, you could create a sub-group for prayer requests in a larger religious group or a sub-group for parents who are willing to carpool to their kids' sports games.
When you use group messaging, you can drive community loyalty and retention while setting yourself apart from everyone else competing for your audience's attention.
Ways To Build Your Community
Remember that today, there is no other vehicle for building a social community that's quite as effective as a group chat.
First of all, people younger than 44 spend almost half a day - HALF A DAY! - on their phones (5 to 6 hours). That's a ton of time for you to grab their attention.
With Shout's group messaging feature, you can quickly and effectively communicate with your entire community at the same time. Whether you want to send a special offer to your customers, a weekly reminder to your team, or get relevant news and instructions to community members, group messaging makes it incredibly easy.
Plus, communicating via group chat is way more personal than sending an email blast. And because each contact in the group has their own conversation within Shout, they feel appreciated and valued. (Learn how effortless it is to create a Shout group here.)
In a moment, we'll talk about some great ways to run your community using Shout. But it might not be obvious as to how you can use group messaging effectively to gather a community of invested followers.
So, let's dive into some quick specifics.
Responding to the messages of your members inside the group chat is one of the best ways to show your community that you're engaged and care about their thoughts.
When group members know that they can count on getting a response from you, they'll be more likely to engage with your texts in the future. Not only will this help boost your content, but it will also create a loyal community of followers who are invested in what you have to say.
Ensure Your Community Has Goals
At its heart, a community should be about supporting your goals (and those of your members) and helping you to achieve them. Everything else is a bonus.
If your SMS group doesn't support community goals, you may find that all of the effort you put into building and nurturing it goes to waste.
Therefore, you should set some clear goals for your group and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
When it comes to objective setting, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind:
- What do you want to achieve with your community?
- Who is responsible for achieving these goals?
- How will members be held accountable?
- What resources do you need to achieve these goals?
If you can answer these questions, you'll be well on your way to setting some clear and achievable goals for your community. From there, it's just a matter of putting in the work to make them happen.
Set Community Management Roles
Of course, your community might have just one leader, and that might be you. On the other hand, a larger community may require several group admins or different leadership positions.
You might need to start recognizing the strategic value that community specialists can play in growing your community and managing its day-to-day needs and interactions.
Keep Your Community On Track
When building a community, you need to keep focus. If you're building a community for environmental activism, you don't want messages about members' personal lives or irrelevant news stories hitting peoples' phones.
Likewise, it can be tempting to jump on the latest trend, especially if it seems like it could be a great choice for your community. But before you do, take a step back and ask yourself if the trend aligns with your core values and what you're trying to accomplish.
If it doesn't, then it's probably not worth embracing – no matter how popular it may be.
Make sure you have a clear goal and objective for your group chat. People expect every text you send to be directly related to an action they plan to take or valuable information they must see.
Typically, groups are used to:
- Inform Members
- Organize subgroups or volunteers
- Get donations
- Promote events; and
- Provide Emergency alerts
With that said, you can obviously use them for more purposes than what's most usual.
Just remember that by staying true to your roots and overall goals, you can remain positive, inspiring, and potentially see your audience grow by leaps and bounds.
Share Inspiring Content
Sharing what inspires you is a great way to connect with others and start meaningful conversations. Don't be afraid to share your favorite quotes, artwork, stories, or any other content that speaks to you as long as it's relevant to your community. Just make sure to give credit where it's due!
When you share content with a personal connection to you, it helps build rapport and encourages others to do the same. It also allows people to get to know you on a more personal level, making your group messaging interactions more meaningful.
Turn Community Members Into Heroes
Remember how we previously stated that people like to feel special? By singling out particular community members and celebrating them, you can make them feel like heroes. This can be as easy as mentioning their name during a live chat or sending them a special emoji reaction.
Not only will this make that person feel great, but it will also encourage other members to work harder to acquire the same recognition. After all, who doesn't want to be a recognized member of the community?
Remember, regular people can be inspiring! They are our employees, customers, friends, family, and community members—and they are doing incredible things.
Remember that and emphasize it in your group messaging efforts.
Create New Community Member Roles
In a similar fashion to creating heroes, you can also create new roles for members. For example, you could develop titles like "Community Champion" or "Community Advocate," which you might give out as "badges of honor" for those who work hard to support and grow your community.
Ask Questions and Listen to the Answers
You know how exasperating it can be when you tell someone about something and they look at you with glassy eyes and offer a platitude like, "I hear you,"... but you know they weren't really listening?
You don't want to be the one with glassy eyes.
Understanding your community is paramount. When growing a community, having the right kind of intelligence is crucial. You need to be able to ask the right questions, but truly listening to responses is vital.
Once you have a good list of questions, start polling your followers! You can use polls, surveys, or just ask them direct questions. By paying close attention to what your community has to say, you can create relevant content and ensure that it is targeted and inspiring.
And, you can use Shout bots to ask your questions and gather responses!
Empower Your Community
By being a source of accurate information, you can empower your community to take cause-driven actions. They'll know they can trust you to give them the unadulterated truth, which will encourage them to take action on the issues that matter most to them.
When you give back to the community you're building in meaningful ways, you are not only doing the right thing but also building goodwill and strengthening relationships with group members.
Shout's group chat feature provides a powerful platform for inviting like-minded people to participate in those efforts, whether it's by simply sharing content or taking more concrete actions like donating money or volunteering time.
When community members feel like they're part of something larger than themselves, they're more likely to stick around and become advocates for your brand, group, or cause.
Tips For Running Shout Group Chats
Once your group is set up, you need to know how to effectively run it so that it doesn't get bogged down and members don't get frustrated.
Here are a few tips:
Ensure Members Know What's Expected of Them
It's always a good idea to post community guidelines, especially for communities focused on social interaction. This will help members know what is and isn't acceptable behavior and help keep the group on track.
You should also post the names of any group admins, so that community members know whom to contact with questions or concerns.
Create Messaging Templates
Creating a recognized post type for important information can help ensure that the people in your group see the most essential content.
This will help keep your group running smoothly and efficiently. For instance, you might try using images, emojis, or ASCII art to mark your important messages.
We also suggest using messaging templates, which you can create in Shout. By keeping a library of templates, you can quickly draft personalized responses for each customer interaction.
This will make it simpler when it comes to keeping your interactions friendly and helpful while still providing the level of support your community expects.
Schedule Formal Community Chats
If you're looking for a way to keep your Shout group chat organized and on track, try scheduling specific discussion times. This can help limit the number of updates members receive and allow everyone to participate in productive discussions.
You can use Shout's group chat feature to set up and manage these chats easily. Simply create a new group, add the members you want to include, and set a schedule for when the discussion will take place.
Why Use Shout Instead of Another Group Messaging Platform?
Let's face it. There are many competing social messaging platforms out there you could use to build your community. However, it's vital to note that many organizations are moving away from messaging services that have massive privacy issues when it comes to what they do with your data.
On the other hand, Shout is fully transparent. It is compliant with major privacy laws and organizational regulations, such as the CAN-SPAM Act, Canada's anti-spam legislation, and the Mobile Marketing Association's Global Code of Conduct.
Part of our overall philosophy is that Shout's group messaging features are for everyone and that demands ensuring that your community's members feel safe knowing their data and privacy are protected.
Summing It All Up
This might sound provocative, but if you want to build a community that is long-lived, sustainable, and full of value, you need to focus on making it with a platform that not only provides you with the necessary tools to do so but that actually cares about its users.
It's no longer enough to rely on ad-funded social media platforms that are more interested in profit margins than they are in helping users build wildly successful social communities.
Today, it doesn't matter what type of community you're looking to build, whether it's all about art, coaching, reselling, eCommerce, parenting, or underwater basket weaving.
If you're looking for a platform that will actually give your content and discussions a chance to be seen by more people, rather than battling daily with social media algorithms, look no further than Shout.
Shout provides you with a powerful set of group chat tools that make community growth and management a breeze.