Building things takes time and effort, plenty of it. It only makes sense that you want the end product to last. Strong interpersonal bonds require a lot of commitment from all parties involved and aren’t forged overnight. Growing an online community is a project worthy of taking up but it’s easy to get discouraged once you realize how much you have to put into it. Today I have something for you that will make the process easier. Read on to learn how to build an online community that lasts.
To start things off right, it’s essential for you to understand that the people making up the community you’re working to grow are more than just a collection of potential customers. Selling comes second. First, you have to help members develop genuine bonds and encourage them to keep coming back to your platform.
Online community is a long-term project. You have to keep feeding it in order to make it thrive. It’s not all work though and there comes a time when you can reap benefits of hosting an online community.
Are you ready to dive into this new and exciting area of business opportunities? If so, this is how you approach building a community that lasts.
Define the core purpose of the community
Purpose is perhaps the single most important value in life. It is your drive, your motor, your motivation. If you lack purpose, you have no concrete goal to act towards to. How do you expect to achieve anything like this?
Whatever endeavor you take up, you need to have a defined purpose. This greatly increases your chances of success.
When setting out to establish an online community that will last, ask yourself the following questions:
- How does it fit with your brand and/or your operations?
- Who do you wish to join in? Who are the target members?
- Why would they want to join? What’s there to do and what’s in it for them?
Establish clear ownership of the community
Ownership isn’t only a privilege, it also entails responsibility and leadership. In the context of this post, this means that there has to be a person named, who’ll tie the community’s operations with what the business is doing.
The community owner will ensure the group’s rightful position within the company’s processes.
Most likely, it won’t be necessary to create a completely new position within the company structures, especially early on. The role can be assigned to one of the senior managers who’s well-versed in internal matters and who’ll provide a general direction for the project to move into.
Make community management a part of customer experience
Customer experience is an ever-evolving beast. Its spectrum will vary between companies and industries but the social aspect of it remains a constant. CX is about people and the kind of feeling they build towards your brand and services.
Establishing an online community is an opportunity to show the more human side of your business, as well as offer engaging and exciting content. Another, not so obvious advantage of it may be peer-to-peer support that will take some of the load off your customer service team.
Don’t expect the community to run itself, though. It’s better to take proactive approach to foster the growth and create the right environment for building relationships, which are what makes people come back and have the positive experience you wish for.
Provide contributions from the organization
Again, it’s never a good idea to leave an online community completely unattended. I already touched on the role of a community owner who’s supposed to oversee your company’s contribution to the daily functioning of the group.
Your engagement strategy should involve content such as regular updates, current activities, staff-related matters, behind the scenes, and other relevant pieces.
The central idea is to show your investment in the community. Reach out, share and listen to show that you care about the people spending their precious time to be a part of your brand community.
Choose the right community platform
Finally, to build an online community that lasts, you have to choose the right platform for it. The seeds have to be planted on quality soil if you were to expect fruits. Go back to point one in this article to figure out what features will your community need in order to thrive.
Basically, there are two directions to move into from here on out. You can either settle for the quicker and easier option involving any of the social media that best fit your target audience, or get a social hub of your own. The former comes with a lesser investment but also somewhat limited freedom, while the latter may require you to do more at first, however, the investment will pay off in the long run.
When shopping for a social platform for your online community, don’t overthink it.
Focus on what members will need the most – easy access and participation, stability, a bunch of core features for networking and meaningful communication. Most people won’t be very impressed by fancy design or seamless integration with some niche apps.
The great advantage of providing your own platform is that you make the rules and own the medium. Plus, there are no distractions all over the place competing for users’ attention as it is the case on social media.
Online community is a great way to keep your clients engaged and convince them to spend more with you instead of constantly trying to win new ones.
In this post I outlined five steps for building a digital community that lasts:
- Defining the purpose
- Establishing ownership
- Improving customer experience
- Contributing on a regular basis
- Choosing the right platform
With these figured out, you’ll be able to launch and grow an online community that will stand the test of time and create potential for your business to expand. Now get down to it!