Times are changing, and entrepreneurs need to engage their customers both online and offline. If you have a vibrant online community for your business, you can easily promote meaningful engagement with your target audience. These engagements will give you ideas on how you can grow your brand faster. In this article, you will learn how to build an online community for your business.
Like the name suggests, an online community is a group of internet users with a common interest.
Members of online communities usually discuss sensitive conversations around a particular area. And these members may be from different parts of the world.
More often than not, online communities usually start on social media platforms. For instance, a Facebook group is a perfect example of an online community.
You can also build community in the comments section of your blog posts, forums, email threads, etc.
The advantage of building an online community around your product is that you can easily make members of the community your brand’s advocates.
What this means is that you can leverage your online community social media presence to drive engagement for your products or services.
Generally, there are four types of online communities your business can take advantage of – social communities, support communities, advocate communities, and insight communities.
If you have been thinking of how to build an online community for your business, here are few tips to guide you;
#1. Identify The Key Stakeholders for the Online Community
The first step to build an online community for your business is to identify the community’s key stakeholders. If you want your online community to attract the right people, you need to organize it.
For a new business, your employees can be the key stakeholders of your community. Assign different roles to them within their community and ensure that everybody takes their role seriously.
If you want, your online community can have a manager. The role of your community manager is to handle every issue relating to your online community.
The role of a community manager is essential for the success of your online community. They are like the chief operating officer of the community, and at all times, their job is to ensure that the community meets its goals.
Since your community manager works closely with members of your online community, they will constantly update you on what is happening in the community.
Whoever takes up the responsibility of the online community manager would identify areas that need improvement in your products, community, and branding. That is because they perfectly understand what your audience (customer) needs.
You can also include two or more members of your marketing team in the online community. Their responsibility would be to create insightful content that would make you become a thought leader in your niche.
#2. Define the Purpose and the Goal
You can’t grow your online community if it doesn’t have a purpose. So, the first thing you should do before you build an online community is to define the purpose of the community.
If your community doesn’t have a purpose, people won’t bother to join it. That is because they don’t even know why they should join it in the first place.
The best way to define the purpose of your online community is to ask yourself the question – what will my customers benefit from this group?
The answer to the above question will help you to define the purpose and goal of your dream.
#3. Select a Community Platform
Before you build an online community for your business, you need to select a community platform. The type of platform you are selecting depends on how many people you want to grow the community to.
If you want a community of 10 to 200 people, you can create a WhatsApp group chat; if you need a community of 200 to 10000 people, you can create a Telegram channel.
However, if you want to create a community of more than 100,000 people, you should consider platforms like Reddit or Facebook group. A group chat with more than 100,000 people will be too rowdy and could defeat its purpose.
#4. Build a Member Profile
The essence of building your online community is to populate it with your target audience. And the profile of your group member should be your ideal customer avatar’s profile.
To attract niche-specific people to your online community, you must first ask yourself the question – who is this community serving?
- Is your community serving newbie business owners?
- Is it serving experienced entrepreneurs?
- Do you want to help founders develop a good business model?? Etc.
Once you have an idea of your ideal member, then ask yourself the following question;
- What can my online community give my target audience that they don’t have before?
- How do you target audience feel before joining the group, and how do they feel after joining the group?
These questions will help to define your group members’ persona. And they will guide you to create engaging content for your community audience.
#5. Develop Rules and Norms
No community can survive without rules and norms guiding their affairs, not even the online community. So, when you want to build an online community, it’s important to develop a few rules and norms.
And new members must read these rules and norms before they officially become members.
Don’t just develop these rules; try to enforce them and remove defaulters from the community.