How to Create an Online Community in Your Business
Do you already have a lot of traffic to your site, maybe an email list, but have yet to have a fully integrated online community? Today we’re going to explore how to create an online community THAT WORKS and truly make your brand part of your audience’s lifestyle, and not just something to check in on occasionally.
What is an online community?
An online community is like a village. People know each other, they interact, communicate one-on-one, and then communicate with the group as a whole. Now most businesses treat their email lists as nothing more than advertising billboard, blasting information to the audience in a one-sided communication format.
A community, on the other hand, is one where people in your email lists talk to each other as well as to you. It is a sort of crossroads where different ideas and sophisticated content can intersect to create something new and valuable.
How do you actually create an online community?
The first thing you must do is make people realize that your site is a home for them to get their ideas heard. Create a forum, or a Facebook group for an example.
Tell your list that you have created this Facebook group just for them to answer your questions and voice their concerns. In the beginning, yes, you will have to spend your own time answering people’s questions and handing out advice. Answer every single question they ask and they’ll begin to feel like they’re truly part of your community.
Find Leaders In Your Community
After a while, you will begin to have other leaders emerge in your group. Soon enough, they’ll be the “local celebrities” inside your group and generate their own traffic. Of course, don’t let this get out of hand because soon enough the local celebrities will feel like the global celebrities and feel entitled to run your entire operation, so exercise some dominant leadership when necessary and keep your place as the creator and head honcho of your own online village.
If anything, you want to nurture positive and interactive relationships with the leaders in your community, because if they leave – and they will if you allow them – you will have to spend more of your time making up for the lack in manpower and leadership.
Moderate Your Community For Maximum Value
Once people begin to interact in your community and truly realize the value you are offering (along with the emerging leaders of smaller groups within your operation), your role should switch to moderation. This is because the larger your community grows, the more people will begin to flood your group with their own self-interest in mind.
If you allow too much self-interest, people will try to change your community into it’s something it’s not, lead people away from your unique village, spam your site, etc. Your ability to moderate well will keep these kind of negative influences away from your burgeoning online hub.
What is your online community’s “mission”?
Every community must have a mission. What is your community about? Is it video-editing, entrepreneurship, fitness, etc.? Steer clear of distractions, and make the mission as clear as possible to your online members.
If you let your ultimate goals in your village become vague and undefined, trust me, people will begin to post funny pictures, useless information, and many other things – especially on sites like Facebook. Make the focus of your community, narrow, clear, and relatable. And moderate out from that position of clarity.
The Clearer Your Mission, The Less Chance For Failure
To be clear – your competition is everything else on the internet. There are ads, funny videos, blogs, porn, sports… everything. Your ability to have a laser focus will have people continually coming back. Their responsiveness will be in direct relation to what they expect to see on your site consistently – high value discussion, clearly defined goals, and interactive posts.
At least once a day, you should have something very exciting and interesting on your site. If you have good leaders, a stable number of posters, you will build this level of interaction with your online presence.
Why do I have to put so much effort into this?
That which people contribute to, they want to see grow. They become emotionally invested in your community, and shortly thereafter become more and more interested in your products. Building a community builds interest in your actual business.
Secondly, the more people you have in your online village, the more free online content they will want to make for you. They will literally save you time by creating their own content that links back to your brand. After some time, you won’t have to write members every day because members of the community will create correspondence with your audience for you. This is a huge advantage to a successful online village.
What do you feel strongly about?
Think about it this way: What do you feel most strongly about – some random brand you’ve purchased one thing from before, or a community you’re a part of, something that’s part of your identity? Do you feel stronger about a movement or about a logo?
The purpose you’re aiming for when you create an online community to build that movement, that next evolution in your niche that can actually change lives. The more people taking leadership roles on your site, the better moderated it is, the clearer your goals – the more lives changed, plain and simple.
To sum it up, having an email list is great, having traffic is great, but they are just beginnings. You need to build a world for your customers to live in, something that can be embedded into their identity. THAT is how you will get people coming back again and again. THAT is how you will build leadership roles for members who will bring in new clientele.
The most important takeaways for you in this video should be the importance of group communication, leadership roles (with your moderation), and the encouraging of members to create their own free content under the umbrella of your larger vision. With a clear mission, an active participation by you and the members, you can create that ideal community, and bring an entirely new level of success to your business.