As the CEO of Zoetica Media and creator of Smart Social Secrets, Kami Huyse is widely respected as a social media marketing and public relations expert. One of the main things she credits with her success is community building. In fact, she lists it first in her LinkedIn profile.
In a recent appearance on The Experience Live with Russ & Scott, she and co-hosts Russ Hedge and D. Scott Smith, along with fellow guest Jim Fuhs, spoke about the power of community and why it matters more than ever in a rapidly changing world.
Real Community Serves as a Support, Not as Competition
In speaking about the four people on the show, Russ says, “We all do similar things or we’re all in a similar arena. And when I first started live streaming, I had people ask, ‘Why do you have people that do the same thing you do? Don’t they steal your business?’ And I’m like, ‘It’s just completely the opposite,’ I said.”
Rather than regard them with suspicion, “I want to build community with everybody that does what I do, because the amazing people that are friends of mine, we help and support each other, earn from each other, grow together, become better together.”
Focus More on the Communities Present than on the Platforms Themselves
Scott points out that the community on a platform is more important than the platform itself. “There are always changes [in the social media world], but the one thing that’s constant are the concepts. So whether it was Facebook, Instagram, whether it’s X, whether it’s TikTok, there are some fundamentals that translate across all the platforms.”
Kami shares that, “A lot of people ask me, ‘What tool should I use? What platform should I be on?… and I always say that you need to be on the platform where your community is gathering. So you need to find out who is it that you’re trying to reach and if that ideal person… is on LinkedIn, you need to figure out LinkedIn.”
To ensure you’re not just doing things randomly, she says, “You need a strategy. That’s the first thing. You need a very clear strategy, and it starts with people. Always strategy starts with people. Start with where they’re at and then build your content strategy around the people that you’re trying to reach.”
Adds Jim, “It’s about building know, like, and trust…. And if they trust you, they’ll start to reach out to you and want to do business with you. And sometimes, it may be a year after they first saw you. It’s not always instant gratification, and I think that’s part of the challenge when you talk to people about the importance of, as an example, doing video.”
To stand out, however, you need to consistently put yourself out there and engage with the community you’re trying to serve. “Less than 5% of the people on LinkedIn are creating content,” he notes. “I really like the concept of ‘live solving’ versus ‘live selling.’ We’re here to solve problems.”
Take Advantage of Programs that Build Community by Helping Others
In addition to supporting their peers, small business owners and consultants should take advantage of programs and services offered by established companies and organizations.
Kami recommends looking into Verizon Small Business Digital Ready. Launched in 2021, it has supported over 200,000 small business owners in the U.S. since its inception with education and training in essential knowledge, as well as mentoring events and coaching. It also recently launched new grant funding opportunities for small businesses, totaling $500,000.
Jim, a military veteran, thinks highly of the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center, a free comprehensive rehabilitation program for U.S. military veterans, U.S. service members, and first responders dealing with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.
To hear more insights from Russ, D. Scott, Jim, and Kami, watch the full livestream.