It can be tough to feel connected when you’re working alone. Especially when your business is just starting out and it seems like everyone else around you is more established. That’s why online communities are so valuable- they provide a space for connection and support, which can help small businesses thrive.
What exactly is an online community?
An online community is a group of internet users who come together to discuss a common interest. Conversations that would normally take place in person are transferred to social media, where they are shared by people from all over the world. While an online community is most likely to form and thrive on a social media platform (e.g., a Facebook group), it can also form and thrive in the comments section of a website or blog post, as well as in forums and email threads.
When an online community forms around your product or company, you may be able to convert community members into brand advocates. You can also use their social media presence to encourage customers to interact with your products.
How do online communities’ function?
The power of online communities is that anyone with an internet connection can easily figure out how to create one that caters to their specific interests. A person or company that creates an online community ensures that members can easily join – whether or not an approval process is in place – and connect with other users to discuss shared interests whenever and wherever they want, entirely online.
Where do you go to find online communities?
On social media, online communities are common. It’s not difficult to find a Facebook group or a Twitter hashtag dedicated to almost any cause, cultural figure, or brand these days. While social media platforms are the most popular, online communities can also connect their members through forums, emails, and comments sections on websites and blog posts.
A branded online community can help your business in a variety of ways:
- Easier and faster connections with customers and, as a result, better customer service
- Enhanced social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other popular social media platforms
- Identification of top-tier customers as brand advocates who can promote your company through their social media presence.
- Access to suggestions from satisfied customers on how to improve your company, products, and services.
- Faster routes to potential new customers and a greater chance of retaining current customers
- Increased revenue from cross-selling, upsell, and add-ons
Online community types
There are four types of online communities that your company should be aware of:
As the name suggests, social communities are built on social media platforms. Businesses can use them for marketing, brand awareness, and audience growth.
Support communities: In support communities, your customers provide assistance and support to other customers, lowering your customer support costs.
Brands use advocate communities to incentivize their most loyal customers to promote the brand on the internet.
Insight communities: In insight communities, businesses receive feedback from long-term customers on how to improve their products or services.
What is the best way to start an online community?
If you want to maximize the performance of your business and encourage success, then you should follow the tips for how to build an online community outlined below, complete with real-life examples.
- Accept varying levels of commitment from members.
Recognize that some community members will be more active than others and that some will not be active at all. Accepting what all of your members have to offer is an important part of building an online community. Some people prefer to share ideas and participate in the conversation, while others take those ideas and run with them. You can’t expect active users to reduce their participation and inactive users to participate if they don’t want to. What you can do is spark the conversation and get everyone involved in their own unique way.
- Provide a platform for users with diverse viewpoints.
If your company deals with a sensitive and divisive topic, you must approach it peacefully by bridging the gap between people and misunderstanding and encouraging them to open their minds to new experiences and perspectives.
- Inspire users to create content.
Displaying user-generated content provides a platform for your community to share their unique content and connect with other users who share similar interests. You can promote their ideas on your website and social media pages to increase exposure and credit the users who came up with them.
- Allow users to teach each other about your products.
Allow your community members to teach each other about your products and how to use them properly. You can drive new customers to whatever you’re selling by cultivating a community that is willing to help each other out.
WordPress is a popular platform for creating a website or blog. Because it is an open-source project, volunteers have contributed to the development of not only the core software but also of its themes and plugins. Because there is so much that can be done with WordPress, users are constantly looking for new ways to make the most of the platform.
- Hand over power to the people.
Don’t let your desire for brand awareness get in the way of your users’ discussions. This ruins the authenticity of their interactions and may turn people off to your company.
- Allow the community to have an impact on your business.
Take advantage of valuable insights from your community members and listen to their needs in order to improve your products and services based on their suggestions.
- Establish boundaries.
Your brand stands for something in the industry, and you must uphold that image in your community. As a result, you require capable individuals to moderate your community – a community manager and strict community guidelines are essential – and uphold your brand image.
I hope this blog post has made you reconsider your decision to create an online community. Are you looking for help? We’re here to support you every step of the way! If there are any questions, contact us today.