Top 6 Keys to Build an Online Community
- Jan 08, 2016
- Sreetama Nandi
Building an online community is one of the most powerful ways to get people engage with your brand. Well run online communities help with trust building.
How can an entrepreneur build a community? Understand that there is a huge difference between community and audience. Audience is one way. They are not social or interactive; they read and watch passively. The audience may or may not participate and share things with others. Community is a two-way conversation. It is social and extremely interactive. No doubt, some people just watch and read, but there are several people who prefer to participate and share with friends.
Here are the keys to building an effective online community.
Avoid Rushing In, Come with a Solid Plan
An online community is somewhat akin to a building project. You provide brick and mortar for building an environment where your members will reside. As soon as it is built, a plan is required to get people in. The traffic you attract or fail to attract will be the measure of your failure or success. Ideas of getting this job done can be as simple as including the details of your community at the touch points that you have with your customers like phone messages, outgoing email signatures, and literature. Undertake research and find out where your customers reside online. This can be Facebook or Twitter. Consider establishing a presence there but make sure to refer back to your community.
Focus on the Vision of Community
The community builders need to create a clear and aspirational vision statement and then share it with the members. The vision statement shapes what a community is chiefly about and the way the community members interact. This sets the tone for the community’s culture. Writing vision statements can be an extremely painful experience. The end result often is a hyperbolic declaration that serves no one’s interest. To avoid trouble, take some time to decide on the vision statement.
Use Great Content
Content proves to be an extremely powerful marketing weapon for the entrepreneurs if done properly. The cost to create, publish or promote is low though the benefits acquired of it is high. Everything begins with great content. The content is not just about you, but the community. Regardless of whether it is for football fans or bunny lovers, content that is entertaining, educational and inspirational will prove the best bet. There is a lot of content on a given niche. You need to find a way to be different.
Perhaps nobody in your niche uses a video or interviews people. That’s your opportunity.
Building a community is time-consuming. If you are confident that you are using the right strategies, stick to it. To help your community acquire success, you must look after it. You require dedicating resources, especially in the early days. This will help it grow.
Know the Demographics
Divide the community members into camps like casual users, newbies and the hardcore fanatics. These camps play out distinct roles. The newbies ask questions, the fanatics answer them and the casuals move up the scale or get bored. Be careful about getting too concerned with the fanatics. No doubt, people passionate about your offering are quite valuable, but they represent only a small section of the community. The trick here is to work with the dedicated customers to engage the casual browsers. Your goal is to build a community rather than focusing on the whims of a small minority, even if it appears tempting.
Find an Inner Circle
All successful communities rely upon a solid core group that helps it grow.
How can you find and develop the ‘ever important’ inner circle?
You can form this group with 50 to 250 members who are friends of the organization, partners or clients who have an interest to be ‘community pioneers’. Before the launch, get this group to model behavior; the rest of the community will follow when it goes live. They will fill out the profile, participate in discussions and fill the community with activities. This will help others to know what should they do in the community and the ways to interact online.
Managing an online community is a tough job but that can be an extremely rewarding experience for both you and the customers. The reality is that you have a successful product, company or service and the customers will be speaking about you anyway.
Working as a content developer, Sreetama Nandi contributes blogs to Softz Solutions and varying other noted blogging platforms regularly. With Masters in English, she enjoys writing for diverse industries. She takes keen interest in digital marketing, social media and web design among others.
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