Just as your business is integral to building a thriving economy for your community, a community is vital to succeeding as a business at all. Community involvement allows businesses to build relationships with their consumer base, increase brand awareness, and further their visibility and outreach. No matter how it’s done, business owners should encourage community members to get involved with their business to build customer loyalty and increase the overall benefits for both the community and the business.
That being said, it’s not as easy as someone snapping their fingers to create an engaged community, nor can a business expect its community to engage with it at every opportunity presented. Business owners need to put in work if they want their community to actively engage with them and further their presence in the community.
One thing many business owners forget is that their community is made up of people. Social media makes it easy to forget that a community is more than accounts on a screen; though beneficial, the human aspect of engagement should never be forgotten. This goes for both the consumer and the employees running the social media accounts: everyone is human, so everyone should be treated as such. Additionally, social media takes away the all-important face-to-face interaction that many clients and businesses need to build a lasting relationship. When possible to meet face-to-face safely, encourage in-person interactions, and take advantage of the human aspect of relationships.
Engagement doesn’t all fall onto the business owner, however. Employees are just as vital in creating community engagement and connecting with others, so they should be encouraged to become involved with local organisations related and unrelated to work. Connections aren’t kept to one place—they can form anywhere. It’s vital that businesses support their employees, then, so that they can pursue interests outside of work and create these lasting connections.
Another way to engage with the local community is by being completely transparent with customers and overcommunicating. If there are big changes coming to the business, communicate those changes and the reasoning behind said changes prompt; if possible, let people know about it in advance. Overcommunicating is better than under-communicating, and customers deserve to know what decisions are being made. If they are kept in the loop, they are much more likely to be supportive of a business.
For the biggest impact on a community, business owners should get themselves involved in community initiatives. These can often be found on the local municipality website; cities, villages, and townships are likely to post important initiatives to their municipality site. If any questions arise, simply talk to the local city administrator or clerk to ask how to get involved.