How to build online community: Just like in the offline world, brand positioning is particularly important online. You have to identify the coordinates where your brand fits in best among so many other players on the internet. In the same vein, you have to customize your marketing message in a way that they make maximum impact. To make that possible, you cannot pitch for a one-size-fits-all message. That will dilute your initiative and get you nothing in return. A far wiser idea would be to identify an online community of customers and potential consumers who are more likely to be interested in your products/services.
How to build an online community [10 Steps]
Building an online community can be a rewarding and engaging process. Here are some steps to help you get started:
- Define your purpose: Clearly define the purpose and goals of your community. Identify the specific interests, needs, or values that will bring people together.
- Choose the right platform: Select a platform that aligns with your community’s needs and preferences. Consider popular options like social media platforms (Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups), forums, or dedicated community management tools.
- Create engaging content: Develop high-quality and relevant content that resonates with your target audience. This can include articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts, or interactive discussions.
- Encourage active participation: Foster engagement by encouraging members to actively contribute to discussions, share their opinions, and ask questions. Respond promptly and encourage others to join the conversation.
- Establish clear guidelines: Set clear community guidelines to ensure a safe and respectful environment. Encourage positive interactions and discourage any form of harassment or abuse.
- Promote networking opportunities: Provide opportunities for members to connect with one another. Encourage introductions, facilitate networking events, and create spaces where members can collaborate and share ideas.
- Offer exclusive benefits: Provide exclusive benefits or rewards to incentivize participation and membership. This can include access to premium content, discounts, early access to products, or special events.
- Be consistent and responsive: Consistency is key to maintaining an active community. Regularly post new content, engage with members, and respond to comments or queries in a timely manner.
- Seek feedback and iterate: Continuously seek feedback from your community members to understand their needs, preferences, and areas for improvement. Adapt your community strategies based on this feedback.
- Foster a sense of belonging: Create a welcoming and inclusive environment where members feel valued and connected. Encourage collaboration, celebrate member achievements, and foster a sense of belonging.
Remember that building an online community takes time and effort. Stay committed, be patient, and continuously work towards nurturing a vibrant and engaged community.
How can you grow a brand through a strong community?
Growing a brand through a strong community can have numerous benefits, including increased customer loyalty, brand advocacy, and word-of-mouth marketing. Here are some strategies to help you grow your brand through a strong community:
- Define your brand’s mission and values: Clearly articulate the purpose and values of your brand. This will attract like-minded individuals who resonate with your brand’s message.
- Foster engagement and interaction: Encourage active participation and create opportunities for members of your community to engage with your brand. This can be through social media, online forums, events, or interactive content.
- Provide valuable and relevant content: Share informative, entertaining, and educational content that is valuable to your community members. This will establish your brand as an authority and keep your community engaged.
- Encourage user-generated content: Empower your community members to create and share content related to your brand. User-generated content not only increases engagement but also helps in building brand advocacy.
- Offer exclusive perks and rewards: Provide special benefits or rewards to your community members, such as discounts, exclusive access to new products or services, or VIP experiences. This fosters a sense of exclusivity and loyalty.
- Listen to feedback: Actively listen to the feedback and suggestions from your community members. This shows that you value their opinions and are committed to continuous improvement.
- Create opportunities for connection: Facilitate connections between community members by organizing meetups, networking events, or online forums where they can interact and collaborate.
- Collaborate with influencers: Partnering with influencers who align with your brand values can help amplify your reach and attract a wider audience to your community.
- Consistently engage with your community: Regularly communicate and engage with your community members across various channels. Respond to comments, messages, and inquiries promptly, showing that you value and appreciate their involvement.
- Measure and analyze community growth: Utilize analytics tools to track the growth and engagement of your community. This data will help you understand what strategies are working and where improvements can be made.
Remember, building a strong brand community takes time and effort. Stay authentic, provide value, and foster meaningful connections to create a thriving community that supports and promotes your brand.
Examples of online communities created by brands
Certainly! Here are 10 examples of online communities created by various brands:
- Apple: The Apple Support Communities provide a platform for Apple users to connect, ask questions, and share their knowledge about Apple products. Source: Apple Support Communities
- LEGO: The LEGO Ideas platform allows fans to submit their own designs for new LEGO sets, vote on their favorite ideas, and potentially see them become official LEGO products. Source: LEGO Ideas
- Airbnb: Airbnb has a vibrant community where hosts and guests can share their experiences, provide tips, and connect with others who are part of the Airbnb community. Source: Airbnb Community
- Sephora: The Sephora Beauty Insider Community serves as a space for beauty enthusiasts to discuss products, trends, and share their expertise in all things beauty-related. Source: Sephora Beauty Insider Community
- Red Bull: The Red Bull Gives You Wings community brings together fans of extreme sports, music, and other Red Bull-related activities to share their passion and experiences.
- PlayStation: The PlayStation Community allows gamers to connect, share gaming experiences, participate in discussions, and get updates on the latest PlayStation news and releases.
- Nike: The Nike Run Club (NRC) community provides a platform for runners to connect, track their runs, set goals, and engage in challenges and competitions.
- Starbucks: My Starbucks Idea is an online community where Starbucks customers can submit their ideas, vote on others’ suggestions, and potentially see their ideas implemented by the company.
- Salesforce: The Salesforce Trailblazer Community is a platform where Salesforce users and professionals can ask questions, share knowledge, and collaborate on best practices for using Salesforce products. Source: Salesforce Trailblazer Community
- GoPro: The GoPro community allows users to share their GoPro footage, participate in contests, and connect with others who share a passion for capturing adventure and action sports. Source: GoPro Community
These examples showcase how brands have created online communities to engage with their customers, foster connections, and provide valuable resources related to their products or services.
How will you locate your online community? Find out what you have to offer and then look for people who are interested in taking those up. You can start by checking out social media networks and discussion forums.
Create a page or start a discussion thread. Offer something of value to your contacts. Encourage them to participate in the discussions and come up with valuable inputs. Do not leave them to thrash out their points of view while you remain a fence-sitter. Engage in networking actively. When these online users find that you have a healthy discussion going, they will share your community with other like-minded users and you will steadily go viral.
A point of caution needs to be sounded here. When building up a community, try not to get carried away by numbers. Hundreds of followers on Twitter do not really mean anything to your online business unless they generate leads or spark off active discussions.
Avoid adding people to your network randomly for the sake of pushing up the numbers. Go for quality adds rather than quantity. You need to have people on your team who can contribute positively and not those who sit frozen and never take part in any discussion or debate.
As an online brand, you have to realize that the social media networks are a means to an end. They are not the end points in themselves. You have to make use of the social media leverage to generate online sales. Keep your business goals clear while networking or building communities. Your goals may be varied like generating brand awareness or online leads or simply information dissemination. Track the progress daily and fine-tune your strategies accordingly. You will achieve much if you can stick to your own community and expand it rather than try every fancy gimmick in the book.