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10 Best Practices for Building an Online Community
Community has been a hot topic for years now. But are you sure you really know what community building is about?
- Segmenting your community members
- Clearly defining the goal of your community
- Active communication is key
- Using the right community platform
- Creating a set of rules and norms
- Good onboarding is essential
- Offering value and relevance to members
- Listening to your community
- Measuring the success of your online community
- Promoting your online community
More and more brands are using online communities to win the trust of prospective customers and build strong, long-lasting relationships with them.
With so many benefits to offer including active customer engagement, building brand awareness, increase revenues, better customer support, increased ROI etc., online communities have become a must for businesses. However, if you don’t have much experience in this sphere, building an online community from scratch may seem like an impossible task.
If you are facing difficulties, we are here to help you out with the best community building practices. Keep reading to know more about these practices.
1. Community members - How to segment them?
An online community will be effective only if it spreads the right message to the right audience. When you start a community, you need to make sure to limit its members to your target audience who will actively engage rather than having a crowded and inactive community.
The members of your community should match your brand’s buyer persona. Ask yourself who your community is serving for you to find suitable members. When you find these members, make sure that the community helps them and makes them feel welcomed. Members who are not attracted to your brand and do not show interest will be negative for the community.
2. Why did you start your community - Clearly define the goal of your community
No community can grow into a successful, active one if it does not have a clear aim or purpose. People should know what benefits your community offers them so that they think about being a part of it. A brand should define its community’s goal based on the experience it provides to its customers.
Take, for example, a smartphone company. If their goal is to inform their clients about their products and services, this helps the members know what benefits they get from being a part of this community. Members will know what to talk about and discuss with one another if they know the community's main purpose.
3. Building an online community - Active communication is key
Participation and engagement are important for any community, and they can be achieved only through active communication. It is important for members to see the content provided to them, but you want members to interact, share, and discuss it with other members.
This can only be achieved through active communication. Conduct regular discussions, forums, surveys, etc. for members. Additionally, when members are included in discussions, and other communications, they feel respected and valued. Also, community engagement increases when members talk to each other, recommend stuff to each other, and help solve each other’s problems.
4. Community platform - Use the right one
You can create a basic Whatsapp or Facebook group for small communities with 10-15 members. Yet, social media has become increasingly noisy and irrelevant making it difficult to have your message heard by the community. For bigger online communities, you should opt for a dedicated community building platform.
Such platforms have the right tools and solutions to create an online community and grow it into a successful one. Community building platforms allows brands to segment their audience, communicate with them, receive feedback, create content for them, track and analyze growth metrics, and much more.
5. Online community moderation - Create a set of rules and norms
Although an online community is committed to its members, that doesn't give them the authority to set the rules and regulations. The community's admins should keep some norms and rules in place and ensure everyone respects them.
All members must agree to follow these rules, or they should be removed from the community. Some rules you can include are:
- Members should not speak negatively to or about any other member
- Profanity or abusive language should not be allowed
- Members cannot promote their individual products
- Sharing obscene content, pictures, or videos must be prohibited
6. Make community members feel comfortable - Good onboarding is important
Just adding members to an online community is not it, you must properly onboard new members to the community. Members should be welcomed and introduced to the community, its goals, and other members.
They should be encouraged to participate and engage within the community, interact with content, leave their opinions and feedback, hold discussions, etc. Whenever a new member joins, they must be made familiar with various features of the community and how to be an active member. When members feel welcomed, they will stay active and also advocate ypur brand to their friends and family.
7. Community engagement - Offer value and relevance to members
Community has always placed a high priority on content and will continue to do so. You should offer engaging, exciting content to members regularly and push them to interact and share it. It is important to hold community forums and discussions so that members may interact, provide feedback, and exchange ideas with others who share their viewpoints.
Also, you can share updates regarding product launches, new services, offers, etc., within the community. Additionally conduct surveys, feedback sessions, etc., to help members feel relevant and valued.
8. Listen to your community - Hear your community’s feedback and opinions
Online communities offer a great chance for brands to improve their services, products, and customer support. Customers get a platform where they can talk about their experience using a product and leave genuine reviews. They can leave feedback for the brand on how to improve products or services based on the customers’ needs and requirements.
Brands get to know what their customers want from them and optimize their services based on the feedback received. This also helps in building loyal customers as customers want their voices and demands to be heard. Make sure the members understand that their feedback is valuable and always taken into consideration.
9. Measure the success of your online community - Tracking and reporting are vital
Every community has unique goals and aims and defining them clearly helps you determine how you measure your success. Success relates differently for each community which means there are many different ways of measuring growth and success.Make sure to analyze and track metrics depending on your community's goals.
These metrics can range from engagement rates, comments, shares, participation rates, downloads, registrations, etc. Tracking metrics will help you understand your progress and what more must be done to meet your objectives. This also helps in deciding what activities must be stopped and what must be continued.
10. Community expansion - Promote your online community
Just like a brand promotes its products for more sales, brands must promote their online communities to get more active members. You must show people the benefits they can get from joining your community and why they should consider joining it now. You can promote your community by:
- Partnering with influencers or affiliates
- Inviting your contacts
- Start a referral program for existing community members
- Integrate community promotion into your brand’s marketing program
To sum up
With a clear goal and the right execution, online communities can boost your brand's growth and marketing strategies. They help build a loyal customer base, increase leads, help improve products, boost revenue, and much more.
Every business in today’s world should start an online community. However, it's certainly not an easy task, and many brands fail to run an active online community. If you want to build an online community, make sure to follow the practices discussed above.
And, for those who want to start an online community for their business, MeltingSpot is the perfect community building platform. It offers all the tools needed to create an engaged community and grow it into a big, successful one.
Build your online community as soon as possible and boost your overall revenue now.