3 Fundamentals Of Starting And Keeping Your Online Community

The Internet has been providing a social platform for people from all over the world for years now. Visiting various music-related forums and chat rooms was something I was really excited about back in the late 90’s. Being able to connect and discuss stuff with people I had never met before was a novel and thrilling experience. Some twenty years later, online interaction has evolved and became more sophisticated with all that social media have to offer, however, some of the most basic solutions have remained just as, if not more popular.

The growth of technology and software has only brought people closer together, at least online. This means that new digital communities have sprung up all over the web. If there’s an area of interest for humans, I’m sure there’s a website somewhere that helps these folks connect.

What I aim for with this post is to outline three fundamental areas crucial for anyone looking to start, and more importantly, keep their own online community.

If you’re looking for a blueprint on how to go about it – this post is definitely for you. If you’re already hosting a community, you may want to skip to point three for an idea on how to grow and keep your crowd engaged.

Thing’s you’ll need to launch a successful online community

Building an online community is a long-term endeavor. The good news is that all the things you’ll need for the project are readily available to you.

The most fundamental thing of course is the very subject matter you want people to be centered around. The more of an expert you are on the topic, the easier it’ll be for you to succeed. What I mean by that is that launching a niche site appealing to a smaller audience covering something you’re knowledgeable about may be a better idea than trying to get a piece of the popular pie already attracting significant audiences elsewhere.

Alright then, let’s now take a look at what essential elements are needed for starting and growing your online community.

Content-rich website

When working on building your online community, you should start with the digital premises of your social club, that is the website.

The exact amount of content it carries will depend on the topic it covers but since you want people to come in and stay, you need to make sure it’s looking nice, is user friendly and safe.  

Before you move on to the next stage, fill the site with enough content as to not make it seem unfinished. Also, have a fresh content strategy in place for at least next six months. Be prepared to publish new blog posts on the regular, develop podcasts, have some live events planned, share others’ work too.

Expansion into social media

Social media have provided a platform for people sharing common interests to come together. Sure, you can start and grow an online community on any of the sites out there. The problem is you’ll always be ‘renting’ and the kind of interaction allowed may be somewhat limited.

Still, any respectable brand or website should have its profiles at least on some of the networking sites simply because of the fact its customers are there. Focus on those platforms where your core audiences are.

Start your community building efforts on social media to attract attention and then redirect the traffic to your site, where you’ll be able to interact with people on your own terms. That should always be the goal.

Now, fine feathers make fine birds. Make sure your branding’s intact across all the platforms you’re on. Have consistent, easily recognizable avatars and size-relevant header photos. Use your profiles for proactive communication too. Follow other pages, comment under their posts and like people’s comments to garner exposure for your brand.

And speaking of exposure, consider sites like reddit and Quora, which attract a wide variety of highly engaged users, who may be interested in what your project has to offer and joining your community. No blatant promotion is allowed though.

Transfer to your own communication platform

So you’ve built the website, ventured into social media, and after some months of work, you’re now enjoying a steady flow of visitors.

When you’re running a socially-oriented site, the opportunity for visitors to interact with each other is one of your main offerings. You have to capitalize on the fact and offer them a communication platform.

Granted, discussions in the comments section are one way to go about this, although their quality can be tricky sometimes. Forums are structured and official but lack pace. Today’s online environment promotes real-time interaction and that’s what a lot of users seek.

Live chat for online communities

Your endgame as an online community founder is to become independent of any third-party platforms. That’s what you should build your website for and eventually shift the focus to from any social media you’re on.

Group live chat has been a proven and efficient medium of communication for a variety of sites focused on gaming, live streaming, religion, daytrading, consulting, and many others.

A solution like Chatwee is super easy to install, affordable, customizable, and requires no maintenance on your part. Most importantly, it lets your site visitors stay engaged and become returning community members.

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