Online communities have emerged as a popular business tool. In present times, people are carrying out their individual research, going through product reviews, and looking for recommendations prior to reaching a decision. This has made online communities to play their part in such a process.
Also known as an internet or web community, an online community is a virtual community with its members interacting with one another using the internet. These online communities also work as an information system with its members posting, commenting on conversations, offering suggestions or collaborations. Generally, people converse via social networking sites, email, chat rooms, and forums and participate in online communities through blogs, virtual worlds and discussion groups.
Such online communities include the one billion plus Instagram community to a ten member community of pancake lovers that rates the best pancake stores in their town through a private Facebook group who are aware of what they are conversing about and share the same palette.
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Types Of Online Communities That Can Be Created
You should know the type of community you want to create and what its members are exactly seeking and is useful for your brand. These online communities take various forms as mentioned below:
A type of online community, these online learning sites are created to educate. Universities and colleges offer their various classes online to their pupils which helps every student to attend the class at their own comfort level. Online learning convenes different groups of people and can be useful if the forum is built making use of the perfect tools and planning. Social networking can promote skills that can upgrade the experience of learning.
Online communities use various platforms for hosting which have different purposes. Actually, platform and purpose comprise the crucial factors to consider before creating an online community. A community platform like a corporate blog performs the purpose of presenting news, niche-based tips, and latest updates before the community while obtaining feedback in response.
The content creation in your blogs offers your target audience the purpose to visit initially your community. Overall, the content value is something that is added continuously by your and provides them the reason to revert back for a second or third visit. You have to hit topics that particularly concern your online community members by producing a content strategy that revolves around their different pain points and personalities.
Moreover, you can also expand the online community created by your blog to different blogs by leaving valuable comments on various relevant blogs or posting feedback on your blog of the response of other individual’s blog posts.
Businesses of any magnitude, be it individuals or consultants to big nonprofits and Fortune 500 firms, any organization can utilize a blog that can be viewed by the public to build an open community of consumers, followers, prospects and partners.
Public Social Networks
Whenever you think of a huge online community you visualize Facebook, Linkedin, Tik Tok, Pinterest or Twitter. Public social networks are online communities that exclusively need a person to hold an account to belong to that community. There do not exist many limitations or guidelines about who becomes a part of such a community. Both B2B firms and organizations utilize social networks to create reliability and awareness within their industries. They form new, and are involved in present online communities by exchanging relevant information and knowhow on public social networks. In fact, they foster relationships by communicating with, reacting and exchanging value content among their markets.
In contrast to public social networks, branded communities require more than an email location and password to gain access into the community. Think of SOHO house that owns restaurants across the world and comprises private members clubs online. You will need proper credentials (experience, shared interests and location) to get access even though it is on a public social media platform.
Best Practices For Running An Online Community
You require to evolve a strategy for making your online community successful and follow best practices for a thriving online community. Here are some of the best practices that can be adapted to make your online community booming.
Define The Goals Of Your Community
Let it be known to you the type of community you prefer. Specify the goals and aims of your community and its general purpose. Keep the goals clear and consider the objectives you want to attain. Needless to speak, keep them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Your primary objective should be directed towards acquiring membership and engagement within your public or private community. Moreover, your managed and participating (social networks) communities must be utilized as channels to promote your online community.
Choosing A Community Manager
Community management is crucial to the success of the online community. A community manager is a team member who is totally dedicated towards managing all things concerning your community and operating smoothly. They hold slightly a CEO rank, as they identify the product upgradation along with community and branding due to their close coordination and working with your community members as well as customers.
If members feel that they are not receiving the value promised when they applied for the community, they may leave. An effective community manager balances everything from offering value to regulating notifications and ensures the smooth operations of your community.
Your different team members can also work with your community. Like for instance, your marketing manager will develop the content calendar for the online community. This may contain content that promotes community members to purchase for the first time, or buy another item or even a high tier product.
Pick Your Community Platform
After finding your purpose, you need to choose its home. A relevant question to ask is about the number of people you want to expand your community with. Whether you want a ten member community or a huge community you need to search other platforms such as a Facebook group or Reddit.
You can pick your community platforms after knowing the number of people you require within your community. The two community platforms to choose from includes Free community platforms which are social networks such as Facebook or Instagram or messaging apps such as WhatsApp. These platforms lets you create a free account for your community members and host your community inside a micro-community containing a bigger platform.
The other community platform, Owned community platforms are sites having their individual password and login. This provides you with your own site that can be logged into by community members when they want to gain access into the community virtually. Community member owners from gardeners to software firms and Universities can host their individual website and maintain their community platform.
Create A Member Profile
Your objective is to pack your community with members who will be your likely audience. The profile of your member should reflect the makeover profile of your customer and provide an answer to the question of whom this community is serving. You need to know who your perfect member should be and the benefits that accrue to them that was not present before.
In addition, the sign-in procedure for your members should be simple and convenient. You should review it before starting your group to ensure its smooth working and experience the journey of your member to be a part of the community.
Avoid Segmentation Of Users, Differentiate Active Topics
It is essential to have a maximum number of people together prior to splitting up into units and subunits. The larger the size of people, more is the scope of viewing a moderate level of activity. As the discussion topic turns big so as to differentiate it in its place, then you can form a group to accommodate it.
You come to know about it when a member taking part in the topic requests for a different space to convene such active discussions or due to a complaint by various members with regard to the topic about its eclipsing other subject.
Never Overlook Calls to Action
Including leading discussions in an email newsletter is awesome, but if there is no request to people to click on call to action like “can you help reply this question”, it may be possible that they do not find a particular reason to return back to your community site. More so, if everything can be done by email.
If you now decide to build an online community across all niches be it social network, membership, intranet or extranet website you can use the WordPress community theme BuddyX Pro to create interactive and compelling community website.
Make use of online communities to promote your marketing strategy. Brands that maintain an online community receive regular feedback that helps in product upgradation and social networks and community platforms have made it convenient to build a community for your brand. After all, promoting your community is similar to promoting a product. Based on what your community stands for, it can be the product purchased by people prior to buying your core product.