How to build a vibrant online community
Swapping stories at networking events. Trading ideas over a cup of coffee or tea. Getting to know the person behind the screen over a shared meal. These once-common activities now live in our memories – and in our hopes for the future.
To be honest, in-person exchanges with audience members, prospects, and customers were limited even before the pandemic made them next to impossible. Smart brands have worked hard to create communities where digital versions of those interactions are common. The pandemic just made them more important.
Stay away from cookie-cutter neighborhoods. To start or strengthen a community, you must differentiate your group. In this post, the elements that go into building a great community are discussed.
Put your audience first
Have you ever surprised your neighbors with their favorite cookies? You’re a good neighbor. You not only engage with your neighbors but do it in a way they’ll appreciate. A successful online brand community uses the same approach. The brand researches the audience to understand its culture, then operates the community with the audience’s best interests at heart. That approach builds trusting relationships.
Keep them interesting
A good online community acts as a social gathering spot. Members want to come back again and again. It is the brand’s job to keep things interesting. A dedicated and educated community manager can be an asset in facilitating conversations the audience craves.
Provide the opportunity to share
Just as good neighbors share a cup of sugar, good members of digital neighborhoods share too. They become de-facto leaders and influencers, giving their time and knowledge to others. They also anticipate the needs of the group and encourage open communication.
Go where your audience is
Choosing a digital home for your community can be difficult. Consider allowing the audience members to pick it. Gathering where they already are is convenient and doesn’t require a new learning curve to participate.
A community is a shared space. Good neighbors show respect and courtesy and so should online community group members. Set rules that allow your community to work toward a common goal. Post the rules to make it easier to manage the group and moderate conversations.
If your group is valuable and fun, members will naturally want to further their relationships. Identify how to make those connections. When in-person events are possible again, look for ways to help your online community find each other IRL.