With the development of the internet, it has become possible to interact with people in the real world and online world. Online communities are characterized by being easy to participate in, as some can be exchanged anonymously.
In recent years, the business owners and entertainers community has become active, and it is possible to interact with people far away. There are also examples of online community operations by companies, so let’s pay attention to it as a marketing element.
What is an online community?
An online community is a group of people who communicate and interact on any online platform. Different members of social media groups are gathered at one particular platform that is focused on one specific area. This particular article will help you create an online brand community in which a group of engaged users connects with each other. All the steps are defined in detail here to create an online community.
Defining your Goals
Every marketing strategy requires you to have a clear idea of your objectives. Without having a particular goal in mind, you cannot succeed. For building an online community, you need to plan things first. Without planning and setting a goal, you will be lost in between, and the community won’t help you get the desired results.
You need to be specific about your goals. They will help you in carving the content and activities for your community members. Your goal of community building can be linked with anything out of your priority list, like customer satisfaction. Reviews, getting feedback, product usage, or any such thing.
Once you are sure about what you need from your community, you need to focus on what your community expects.
Thinking of the User’s Needs
The online community is not merely formed to promote the brand and sell products, but it is a plan for building authentic connections with other people with the same interest in the platform of the brand they love. The majority of people join online communities for one of the following reasons:
- Having a sense of belonging
- For learning
- Gaining exposure
These three reasons are enough for you to settle your online community properly. You need to give your customers these things to build a strong network and let them identify any other need that they want you to highlight.
Your entire focus should be on creating content for your customers that can keep them on track. After analyzing the members, you will get a positive response and higher user engagement if you post relevant content. Moreover, it is also a wonderful idea to let people share their experiences on the online platform, so other people can get an authentic reviews.
Choosing a Platform for your Online Community
You should have a proper online gathering space. You can look into several options for the space. The most common option is to create a group on Facebook. You can also use your current Facebook account to create an official group. This is the easiest and most free method because a lot of people use Facebook on a daily basis.
Another exciting option is to create your own forum. It can be your website or any other website where you can create a blog. This method has many benefits, like having entire control over analytics, members, data, etc. But again, you will need help from social media accounts to promote it because not many people will directly start using your website.
Apart from this, many pages and groups on social media promote your brand, but people would love it when they see the comments and posts from the official brand there.
Creating Community Guidelines
It is necessary to create clear-cut guidelines for your online community. Without clear guidelines, your platform can be used for illegal purposes and lose talk. It is mandatory to set a few barriers for everyone to smoothly enjoy your brand’s online community.
In order to manage and maintain order, discipline, and order, you can get a few moderators who can look at the settings to make sure nothing goes wrong. You need to provide guidelines, and everyone will abide by the rules to stay within the online brand platform.
Setting up your community
After planning and deciding everything, you should launch your online community. You need to follow the checklist for launching your online brand community:
- Creating a social media platform
- Personalize your online brand community platform with your brand
- Post the initial content
- Create welcome emails
- Assign duties to the community managers
- Test your platform and check if it works well
Promoting your Online Community
After creating the online platform, you should start telling people about it. It is suggested to have a proper marketing strategy to spread awareness among people for your online community. You can follow the following steps to let people know about your online community brand:
- Emailing customers with information about the benefits of joining the online community
- Inviting the top customers
- Promoting your community using your official brand websites
- Promote your community using ads and other social media platforms
- Create social media content that talks about your community
- Creating a proper referral program
- Tell your friends and other business contacts about your community
Engaging with your Online Community
Without engagement and communication, you cannot bring your community to life. For community managers, the biggest challenge is to engage the audience in the best possible way. For this, you need to have specific strategies in mind that appeal to your audience and compel them to engage.
If you see that your community does not interact, you need to initiate the discussion and take action. Once you see a member participating, then you should sit back and relax.
The common yet helpful ways of letting your community interact are:
- Getting your brand employees involved in your community
- Creating contests online
- Communicating with your audience directly
- Share other customer’s stories
- Create a scoring system where the top active member will get rewarded
- Collaborate with bloggers and influencers
Identifying the Key Members in Online Brand Community
After seeing the active engagement of your members, then you can identify the most active members of your community. These are actually the people who initiate the conversations and lighten up your online community. They are your natural advocates, and you tend to encourage and reward them.
There are a lot of silent people who like watching and not participating. This act of yours of rewarding top contributors can also shake them and compel them to participate.
What Are The Types of Online Communities?
Each online community has its genre and theme. It is characterized by being able to choose according to the user’s purpose, such as a hobby community where people with the same hobby seek connections and an online salon used for skill improvement and self-development.
Well-known business owners and entertainers also run online communities, so you can get know-how directly from the person you are targeting. When deciding which community to choose, it’s also important to consider what benefits you’ll get.
An online salon is a membership-based community site that uses the web and SNS. By paying a monthly usage fee, it is a service that allows you to view limited content sent by the operator and exchange opinions among members.
Various online salons, such as online salons run by many celebrities, are getting attention. It can also be used to learn management and professional skills and ways of thinking from people who have succeeded in a specific genre.
The corporate community is mainly used to promote sales of the company’s products. For example, creating a business account on Linkedin or Facebook, distributing special coupons, and sending limited information to registrants is an advantage for acquiring regular customers.
A fan community is a community of fans related to a particular subject, such as a person, brand, or product. The aim is to find friends who can share what they are passionate about, and it is characterized by creating opportunities for fan interaction.
Knowledge sharing community
A knowledge-sharing community is where new wisdom is created by asking and answering questions among participants. Wikipedia and Yahoo correspond to knowledge-sharing communities, and you can quickly find out what you don’t know on the internet.
However, unlike online salons that require a monthly fee, it is a free service that can easily lead to trouble. Also, you must be careful because information other than answers from highly specialized users needs to be more accurate.
A hobby community allows you to share the same hobby with many people. You can use group communities using SNS such as Instagram and Facebook to exchange information about your hobbies.
Online communities are completed within the internet, but hobby communities also have offline meetings where they jump out into the real world and interact. It is characterized by deepening relationships with friends online and deepening hobbies even offline.
A local community is an online community of people living in a specific area. You can deepen the connection between residents by sharing information on the area’s problems and events that have become hot topics.
What Are The Benefits of Online Communities
Online communities allow users to learn highly specialized skills and deepen connections with people with the same interests. In addition, for the operator side, understanding the user attributes and personas of community participants will be helpful for future content enhancement and product development.
You can understand user attributes and personas.
One advantage of online communities is that it is easy to understand the demographics and personas of participants. You can collect frank opinions from users. The feature is that the operator can reduce the effort of a marketing strategy by utilizing data such as age group and gender of participants.
The advantage of the community is that it is easy to directly obtain the opinions of the users who are the participants. By setting up a bulletin board in the community and conducting regular surveys, it is possible to get real thoughts from the customer’s point of view about the products and contents of the operation side.
Solving problems among users
Participants play a central role in growing fan and hobby communities’ content. Also, even in the knowledge-sharing community, the operator only provides the community platform and facilitates since the participants create content.
The advantage of the online community is that you can solve your worries and concerns without directly asking questions to the operators. Setting up bulletin boards and reviews where conversations between participants are recorded is beneficial because it saves the trouble of contacting operators directly.