If your brand enjoys at least moderate popularity, meaning you’re somewhat known locally, and maybe even beyond, you can be sure there are people out there discussing it daily. These are your fans, enthusiasts, advocates, constituting the core of your business. It would be irrational to not try and harness the potential lying within. Bringing them together by building an online community centered around a brand is one way to spur growth. Let’s see how you can approach this tactic and what benefits does it create.
“But, but I already have a Facebook page. Isn’t that the online community I’m supposed to nurture?” Well, social media do indeed help you build a brand following, but only to an extent.
The thing is, for the most part, Facebook fans, Twitter, and Instagram followers aren’t as loyal and involved as actual community members.
Likes and follows don’t automatically translate into engagement, which is one of your main goals when growing a fanbase. In fact, few brands enjoy a significant level of activity on the part of their followers. The message you’re trying to get across may not even be delivered without you paying for reach!
What are the benefits of having an online community?
Hosting an online community on your own platform creates a number of business benefits you may not have realized before. Basically, it’s a focus group, a source of inspiration, and a target for your marketing efforts all in one.
Increased customer loyalty
Research shows people wanting to stay in touch with your brand are more likely to visit your site than like it on Facebook. Well, isn’t that something!
Now that’s information you should definitely take advantage of. Make sure to set up an engaging site that will keep the visitors hooked. And how do you do that? I’m suggesting a solution towards the end of the post, so stay with me.
Creating brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are all over the place these days, especially on Instagram. Using a third-party platform, there are certain limitations in place, and the return on investment is by no means guaranteed.
Instead, once you grow a steady community, develop a program for its most active members. These guys can support content creation efforts and act kind of like inside influencers whose WOMM is stronger than your regular advertising message.
Extensive distribution of your message
I’ve already hinted at some issues related to posting content on a business Facebook page. Basically, receiving follows and likes on a third-party platform doesn’t necessarily lead to a return on your investment.
On top of that, you may find yourself struggling to reach as many people as you’d want without having to pay for a boost, which is kind of annoying. As an alternative, you can build a community on your site, deliver quality content and most likely see more engagement and viral shares than when posting a link on Facebook.
Whenever a prospect visits your site, you have the opportunity to convince and convert him or, at the very least, encourage him to come back. Your own virtual premises provide you with way more options to do that.
As far as the social aspect goes, online community can serve as a collection of testimonials. With the right tools, you can even have members answering prospects’ questions live, doing some customer support for you.
Researching the market
Market research poses a variety of problems, one of them being the difficulty of reaching certain segments you may be interested in. Hosting an established online community gives you the access to a quality group of people who can deliver valuable insights.
Invite members to participate in research projects, ask them for feedback including files, photos and videos. The data collected this way is more realistic too, since there’s no external pressure at the time of submitting the information.
Laying the foundation for an online community
“Okay, it all sounds good in theory but how do I actually go about drawing these benefits for my business?” Let me keep this short and sweet.
In order to build a thriving online community that will benefit your brand, you need a platform that will bring its members together and allow them to interact and express themselves.
A platform that meets all the requirements and provides relevant features is Chatwee live chat. Feel free to head over to the site and explore the chat app installed there.
Building an online community is an overlooked, yet a very beneficial practice for a brand. Instead of relying on social media, consider attracting people to your site, where you have more control over what’s happening.
Provide a communication platform such as live chat and make the community an integral part of your business operations – from marketing, through driving innovation, to feedback collection and research. Keep the members engaged and see the popularity of your brand grow.