Despite having its drawbacks, obviously, the Internet is an invaluable instrument for bringing its users closer together. Online communities rise all over it, centered around common interests, hobbies, brands, or for networking purposes. You, my Dear Reader, may be an owner of a site like that, thinking of ways to stimulate its growth. Well, I’m glad you’re with me today, as I have some ideas you might find useful. Let’s move on to examine why you shouldn’t ignore the social aspect of your site and strongly consider growing a community around it.
Now, why do I reckon the issue at hand is so important? Well, I don’t think anyone could’ve missed the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. People flock to them despite all the bad press they’re getting, to interact, share content, or even request social media customer service from businesses.
The rise of various online communities means increased traffic, and that usually translates into a revenue boost for website owners. It’s the people coming in to your site that generate revenue, be it from ads, your own e-commerce, or some other channel.
Once you realize this, it’s hard not to aim at creating some kind of platform for interaction. Comment sections and discussion boards are among the most popular owned media attracting online communities. However, there’s another, less popular tool, which I’ll discuss toward the end of the post, that can also yield great results in terms of site visitor engagement.
So again, why does it matter to have your website socially oriented and how to improve in this aspect? Well, it’s not rocket science, you CAN do it. Take a look.
URL = IRL
The patterns of human interaction are changing, that much is certain. The boundary between the digital and the real world is fading by the day. In some severe cases, people become unable to differentiate between reality and the online realm. That’s not the point, though.
In a broader sense, humans have come to expect the same kind of experience online that they have in their real lives.
This includes communication and different forms of social interaction. Although some criticize online communities for being somewhat fake and lacking the depth of face to face contact, I think it’s not necessarily true.
I reckon that besides the actual physical connection, which may not be desired by the parties anyway, they aren’t as deficient as their adversaries say. In fact, they often provide ways to communicate, which aren’t available in the real world (think instant media sharing, or specific use of written language).
Online communities are natural environment for a numerous and diverse demographic. Thus, it’s crucial for you to provide them with means to interact with their fellow site users if you want your project to be successful.
Online communities – strength in numbers
Operating online requires you to think not only in technical terms, but maybe even more importantly, consider the human nature and psyche.
People are naturally inclined to seek places where they can meet like-minded individuals. Think of music or book clubs, sports teams and their supporters, or the mind-boggling number of groups of interest. To give you an example of how deep online communities can go, here’s a site for flip clock fans (!).
The more people you’ll attract, the stronger the site and the community around it will be. Its members will need a way to communicate though, preferably in real-time too.
The thing about strong online communities is that their members feed off each other and learn. This, in turn, creates value and prompts them to come back for more. A steady dose of traffic is something you want, right?
Create buzz around your content
Another reason for why you should make your site more socially oriented is that online communities help you create buzz around and promote the contents of your website.
Without proper promotion, even the most carefully crafted content will hit the void without anyone noticing. It’s largely a waste of your time. You don’t have to do the whole job by yourself, though.
Think of providing means for site visitors to discuss your latest post or a video. If they’ll get engaged enough, they may share your content and transfer the discussion to other platforms as well. For instance, the tool I hinted at early in the post allows its users to interact with one another in real-time in public and private. I think you might be seeing what I have in mind…
One last inherently social facet I’d like to cover here is entertainment. Obviously, it’s something that brings us together in the real world, but I think it’s just as important when it comes to online communities.
The opportunity to be entertained is a strong traffic driver. There’s seemingly an infinite number of ways to provide entertainment online.
Among the forms that utilize the solution I’ll move on to in a moment are live interviews, or as they’re sometimes called, Q&A sessions. You may be familiar with the concept, or participated in one yourself, but just to make sure everyone reading this gets the gist – essentially, you invite a guest and let your online community members ask questions in real-time.
You can also switch things up a little bit and use the (not so) mysterious tool to allow people to vote on certain issue pertaining to your site, to possibly learn what new stuff they’d like to see posted.
Group live chat for online communities
Alright, the jig’s up! Let’s cut to the chase.
The tool I’ve been alluding to throughout the post, that facilitates interaction among online communities, is a group live chat widget. It’s an enhancement to your site that creates dynamic space for real-time public and one to one conversation.
As I mentioned, if you wish your website to grow, you need to find ways to draw in more traffic, and to do that, you need to give your audience a reason to come back. Live chat isn’t some magic trick that will do the job just by being there, but it’s definitely a boon for people wanting to become a part of an online community.
Among Chatwee’s features which facilitate the development of the social facet of your site are multiple log-in options, private and public conversations, file and link sharing, as well as lots of customization options for site administrators.
Moreover, we’re planning to roll out a major update this summer, including new cool features, so stay tuned!
Now, to sum things up, if your website is aimed at attracting returning visitors and you want to see it grow, becoming more socially oriented is something you should look into.
Various online communities populate the entire Internet and show no signs of going away. It’s now a matter of you tapping into the potential that lies within them.
There’s a number of ways to provide your site visitors with means to interact, and group live chat is among the most empowering of them. It’s instant, multi-layered and mobile, and it’s already efficiently working on numerous sites. Will yours be the next one?