Online communities are growing in significance over time. This is mainly because of their great value in providing interactions and exchange platforms between like-minded individuals. One of the common tips that help create a valuable platform is to have some laid down rules and guidelines aimed at helping the members align their conversations towards a common goal.
We asked entrepreneurs and business owners the tips they use to build a strong online community and here's what they had to say;
#1- Foster real conversations
I tried being the go-to resource for our community, sharing tons of great research and other content on multiple channels. But it turns out that's not what they really wanted. They wanted a stronger connection with me. Once I stopped sharing the opinions of everyone else, and instead concentrated on fostering real conversations and personal relationships in just a couple of spaces, my tribe grew. Now my community is made up primarily of my ideal clients, where before it felt pretty random and disconnected. Even better, I'm having a lot more fun interacting with them, where before it felt more like a chore, so it's definitely a winning strategy in my mind!
Thanks to Cindy Bidar
#2- Four ways
I learned the hard way that while ads can draw people into my FaceBook group, they cannot engage them. To increase engagement, I used the same tenets that I used to create a sense of belonging in the classroom and on retreats: Create a sense of membership – Closing the group and having members watch a short challenge video, creates a psychological ingroup and outgroup. Be an influencer – Three to five times a week I broadcast an interactive FB Live Show called The Golden Mic Live which features experts in happiness, coaching, entrepreneurship to provide value to only the members. Develop spaces for members to have influence – I use simple gamification to develop an encouraging environment for members to interact with guests and each other. Create shared positive shared experiences – Several times a week we engage in celebrating wins or just contributing to a song playlist. Though it may sound simple, going back to basics has increased engaged members. Furthermore, my know, like and trust factor has exponentially increased, and responses to my calls to action and referrals have also gone up, even with higher coaching rates.
Thanks to Marc Cordon
#3- Slack for more collaborations
I created a membership site for job seekers. Within my membership site, I offer access to a private Slack channel. Using Slack has been a great way for me to build a strong online community with my clients. I use Slack to connect members to each other and for members to get instant coaching and feedback from me. Slack is typically used by companies as a way to connect, complete tasks, and communicate with employees. As a Career Coach, it's an ideal way for me to do the same with my clients. They can ask me questions, get feedback from me on their resume, advice on their elevator pitch, or a quick pep talk before a big interview. Plus they can ask other members for any advice, feedback, and network with other job seekers. I prefer Slack over a Facebook group because is more collaborative, it's easy to share documents, and offers more privacy for my clients.
Thanks to Renita Burgett, 3R Coach!
#4- Be you
We’ve been building online communities for our clients for the past 13 years. The biggest lesson we’ve learned is that you have to be authentically you. Don’t try to copy someone else’s style, be true to you and your community will love you for it. Share yourself by posting videos, professional and more fun photos of you in “real” life, and encourage collaboration and engagement among your community members.
Thanks to Jennifer Gallagher, Intentional Fate!
#5- Three tips
Creating community requires bringing together diverse individuals with some common ground. Doing this online is uniquely beneficial because location barriers are removed. The difficult part of this exercise is letting others know your community exist. Here are a few tips you can use to help build your tribe: Create a Pack Mindset – if your online community has a common problem they are trying to solve let them know that their chances of finding solutions are better collaboratively than on their own. Promote the Benefits – the use of real-world examples and testimonials to show why someone should get involved can be quite persuasive. Be Engaged – people want to interact with other people. Be sure to interact with your followers on a consistent basis.
Thanks to Nahamani Yisrael, Nahamani.org!
#6- Great content
An online community interacts, engages, and becomes a vital part of a business. That’s why the first step is to offer great content. It’s beating an old horse, I know, but quality content is still the best way to distinguish your business from the competition, to build credibility and authority, and to attract prospects. Great content always answers a question, solves a problem, or satisfies a want or need in your target audience. It’s really that simple but very difficult to do. Then I think you need to be very active on social media, launching new campaigns, delivering appropriate content to your audience, getting people to talk about you by launching contests, and connecting with influencers that buy in to your products, services, and business culture. Finally, I think it’s really important to seek out guest post opportunities on sites that already have a big audience. The key is to choose sites that share your vision and culture, and to provide content that is valuable. Eventually, that community will begin to trust your and begin engaging with you outside of the forum where you post content.
Thanks to Tabitha Jean Naylor
#7- Deliver value
The biggest mistake companies make in building a community is putting monetization first. If you look at Facebook and Snapchat, they spent years and years building a community and not making money, and it's a testament to how large they are now. To be successful, your focal point needs to be creating and delivering value to your audience. How are you educating them? How are you training them? Are you entertaining them? How are you helping them at the end of the day? Once you're able to really create a community that's focused on providing value for your audience, the revenue opportunities will come.
Thanks to Arjun Jolly, adQuadrant Inc!
#8- Build relationships
Building a strong community online is not all that different than what you would do in real life. At the core of a strong community—online and off—are genuine one-to-one, person-to-person relationships. When creating an online community, it’s critical to focus on the relationships we choose to create, nurture, and build with each person. Rather than consider sheer numbers or reach or scope, consider value and depth and longevity. As an online entrepreneur, there’s nothing I value more than the people I meet, their stories, and their goals. When I have a solution to their challenge and a relationship with them, it often leads to business. When I don’t, or they choose to work with someone else, I don’t discard the person or the relationship. Many continue to support me in other ways, including referrals. Strong online communities are about the individual ties, not the masses.
Thanks to Deb Coman
#9- Active social media presence
The key to building a strong online community is to build and maintain an active social media presence. Social media is the key to brand-to-customer interaction, and as such plays a major role in fostering a healthy online community. By interacting with your fans, consumers and supporters and offering news and updates – while directly addressing questions and concerns – you can work to make your company a more online-friendly one. What that means is that your consumers will help to build your online community, and build it strong.
Thanks to Nate Masterson, Maple Holistics!