As a part of your marketing strategy, online community and community management are hot topics because they don’t simply focus on feeding the prospect funnel. Your online community is about building connections and deepening the engagement with an audience that knows you, has an alignment with your offering, and is potentially interested in building a long-term relationship with your brand. As you build your member community, you curate the opportunity to capitalize on conversations that facilitate a deeper learning of your customers or potential customers as well as allowing them to feel recognized, heard and a part of your brand story.
Online communities matter because they matter to the people you sell to: :
- Community marketing bridges the gap between the direction you’re driving your business with the people who are driving it.
- People are more likely to spend more for a product or service if it comes with a strong sense of connection, support, and service.
- The social media algorithms are harder and harder to crack, so building engagement on social media is less guaranteed.
- 76% of internet users participated in an online community in 2020 according to the Global Web Index.
- More than 1.8 billion Facebook users engage with these communities monthly.
- Revenues from social media are estimated to have a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.1% based on projected increase from $1.46 billion to $3.5 billion – as compared with 24.3% for online communities.
Building and managing an online community does require some up-front investment, but the cost is worth the payoff. Here’s what you need to get started.
Consider creating a premium community.
From healthy eating to caring for your hair, premium communities are a top way to create a revenue stream and develop a relationship with an audience that has (literal) buy-in to your brand’s message. Follow some general rules if you are planning to create a premium community.
- Aim to launch with at least 50 participants.
- Be sure to offer value in the form of interesting educational content, the ability to foster insightful conversations, and engagements with your brand and other members.
- Provide an involved community manager that sets the tone for discussions, making sure things stay civil and useful.
- Create an atmosphere where participants feel welcome.
- Set the stage for relationships to flourish offline if possible.
Steps to get started building your online community.
1. Define the goals for your online community.
Define your goals for your online community. Are you trying to gain more clients, more repeat business, strengthen your brand cache? How will you measure your success (or lack thereof)?
2. Determine your optimal member community.
Now that you know where you’re going, it’s time to determine your audience. Create a few detailed avatars of the online community members you’d like to welcome into your group. This exercise will help you with targeting and content creation.
3. Be consistent in your communication.
Making consistent community posts to keep in touch with your members is hard work, but it pays off. Consistency is the key to success, and there is no shortcut. Producing good quality content on a regular basis and supporting the activities of your online group is essential to its survival and ultimate success.
4.Focus on community management.
Building a community requires attention from a dedicated manager or group of managers. Quick responses and real-time action are what keep things flowing and engaging at deeper levels. Assign a point person or group of point people to help you accomplish your goals as you build your strong online community.
When you succeed at creating a strong online community, you have the power of a shared belief system to put to work for your brand – a group that believes in you and what you have to offer. It’s a powerful thing. By following some guidelines and best practices, you can find an avenue that drives revenue, builds a deeper relationship with your best audiences and strengthens your brand.