Online communities have been around for quite some time and the trend is not going to settle down anytime soon. Most brands are changing with the times and creating online communities to stay ahead of their competition and you should too.
Setting up an online community is easy. Promoting it takes effort. A community consists of people and if your community does not have enough visitors/members, you are doing it wrong. Online communities are a great place to learn, share, and collaborate. They can be public or private. It helps a brand to engage with its audience and improve its customer experience. A lot of brands use online communities to build customer trust and loyalty.
Here are some benefits of building an online community:
- It aims to optimize the customer experience – when you keep your customers and members happy, they tend to come back over and over again. It is the start of a lifetime relationship.
- Online communities are great for engagement and support. It is an ideal place to connect with others and feel belonged.
- Support costs can be reduced drastically.
- It provides answers quickly and helps with research.
- Lastly, it bridges the gap between the company and the customer. Moreover, customers can give rich and organic feedback to brands which can then be used in making their services better.
Let’s quickly go through the process of starting an online community:
- Choosing a platform for your community – this depends on factors such as ease of use, user interface, customer support, flexibility, and so on.
- Developing a launch framework and defining objectives.
- Identifying key members – you need to figure out who will manage the community and who your target audience is.
- Setting up your community – this includes processes such as creating categories, defining roles of members, creating a sign-up process for new members, setting up gamification, deciding which features you need, implementing themes, and so on.
- Launching your community.
- Promoting your community online.
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Following are some of the easy ways of promoting your online community:
- Adding it to your marketing strategy: Your online community should have a place on your website. When customers visit your site, they will be directed to your community and if they are interested, they will be a part of it. The more engagement your community has, the better. Online communities are basically interactive online platforms that help you improve your credibility. To keep your customers interested, you can provide them with coupons and discount codes. You can also give them a peek into the new products/services of your brand. It is an excellent strategy for customer retention. You need to make an effort to personalize the bond between your brand and your audience.
- Content: It is said that content is king for a reason. No matter what you do, if you compromise on your content, your site will not be able to attract visitors from around the world. When you focus on your content and you give the audience what they want, they tend to stay around for a longer time. To understand which type of content to put out, you need to analyze your target audience. Depending on the kind of audience and your niche, you can curate quality content for your readers.
- Social Media: You know this by now – social media makes all the difference. We live in the world of social media and your community needs to have an online presence. Again, depending on the kind of content, you can choose which social media to capitalize on. Talk about your online communities on social media and invite people to be a part of it. This ensures engagement and boosts your conversions.
- Networking: Interacting with your audience is crucial. However, a lot of brands forget to interact with their peers. You should look at what other websites and communities in your niche are doing. You should also communicate with them and build your reputation. Once you get involved, more and more people are aware of your community and it leads to a higher engagement. Some community owners also promote other sites. You can contact them and understand their policies. You can also build mutually beneficial relationships with other site owners.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is a powerful tool that is underutilized a lot of times. All you have to do is collect email addresses and build a database of interested audiences. You can then send them important information and attach links to your community. This leads to higher traffic of interested visitors.
However, it can get difficult to comprehend this strategy. To help you with email marketing, we recommend this blog on email marketing strategies.
- Add an Introduction: Now that you have built an online community, you should focus on having a short introduction for new visitors. One way to do this is through a short video. You can elaborate on why you started the community and what your objectives are. This gives your visitors a sense of transparency and fosters trust.
Some other ways you can promote your community is by partnering with influencers, discussing with your peers, using gamification, inviting your personal and professional contacts, and so on.
In simplest terms, an online community helps you build a stronger brand. It is a low-cost and simple way to build lifelong relationships with your customers. When you make an effort, customers become strong advocates of your brand. If you want your brand to sustain the fierce competition that exists out there, you need to build your online community. Secure your place on the digital map right away!
As you can see, there are a plethora of ways to build your community and generate traffic through organic means. Once you put in the required time and effort, you will see drastic results with time.
Do you have an online community? How did you promote it initially? Let us know below. We hope this article has been helpful. Thank you for reading and all the best with your online community!