How to Build Online Communities
In the new decade of chatbots, machine learning and automation, it can be easy to lose your (marketing) humanity, especially in digital marketing.
The way people buy things today has changed a lot in the last few years, with consumers conducting their own research and reading product reviews before making informed decisions – and this is where online communities come into play.
But what is an online community?
It is like a digital gathering of like-minded individuals, where, like a physical community, members get together and share common interests – which is your product/service. When your audience comments, shares, and engage with your content and keep coming back to it, it creates a community.
As a digital marketer, knowing your audience is important. Understanding what environmental factors affect their day-to-day lives helps your business connect with them and provide a lot of context and information to help you market in the best way. But an audience is just a group of people.
Audience versus community.
While an audience passively consumes your content, a community is a living, dynamic experience. Creating an online community can help strengthen your brand, provide a direct line of communication between you and your consumers, and community = retention.
“Because people do business with people. Not logos, PMS or hex colors, or snazzy websites. Those things can’t make anyone feel anything. Only people have the ability to make people feel.”
To build or not to build?
How do you know if you should build an online community for your business? According to the B2B Buyers Survey Report, 45 percent of people spent more resources and time researching their potential purchases than last year. Ergo, the more platforms you launch your business on, the better results consumers get when they look for you and related products/services.
Building a community around a topic connected to your business can be a great idea. Here’s how you can get a headstart on building it to gain lead generation, audience research, customer retention, and more.
- Selecting The Right Platform
If you’re just starting out or don’t have the resources to build your own community, you can leverage an existing social media platform (like Facebook) and create a private group to house your users. You want to ask: what do I want to use this platform for? For informal purposes where people share content related to your business, or for users to collaborate on shared interests?
- Have Guidelines
People can face issues on community platforms, usually revolving around:
- Inappropriate or unrelated questions
- People trying to promote their own businesses
This is where you have community guidelines. These can help you easily spell out the degree of promotion allowed or the information that’s going to be discussed on that group, as well as delete or flag posts that don’t meet community guidelines.
- Create A Content Calendar
Establishing engagement opportunities for users on a community platform is important, and any community manager – ideally – has each week’s worth of content planned out. Content calendars are a mix of types of contribution, including:
- Blog posts
- Group questions
- Information about upcoming launches/events/services
- Inspire Brand Ambassadors
If your content and brand are great, customers can get excited enough to tell their friends, both online and offline. These users are priceless for you – as they offer blog posts, user testing, or even going to events in your brand’s name as ambassadors.
- Fulfill A Need
Is your community fulfilling a need? Is it stepping up to fill a void in the customer experience (CX) process? Through sharing feedback, you can help create a better CX by anticipating a customer’s requirement before they even reach it.
- Encourage Friendly Competition
People want to be heard, and you want to find creative ways to interact with members of your community. Since it’s human nature to compete, you can offer incentives for participation – like badges, boosting standing based on blog posts and responses, etc. Include your employees in the contribution process and watch your community become more vibrant.
Building a community can be a daunting task, but we’re here to help. Tribe of Brands can help you stay on top of trends to effectively navigate the complex waters of the internet. Our marketing agency can help you with further ideas of how to design world-class websites, seamless user journeys, and digital marketing campaigns.
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