Though we are living in trying times, and there are a lot of things that seem beyond the scope of our control, it’s more important than ever to focus on what we can control.
While many businesses are understandably slowing down on their digital ad spend, it only means that your need for organic community growth and engagement is stronger than ever. And that friends, is one of those things you can have some control over.
Not only does fostering and growing your online community help your business, but during these times of social distancing, it can also help you personally feel connected, even if from afar. So the benefits of building your online community are two-fold. Good for biz and good for you. Let’s unpack that some more.
Why Online Community is Good for Biz
Building your organic community online is a great way to continue to reach your audience and clients without depleting a limited budget. It allows you to serve your customers better, and even reduce your costs on post-sale service because people can self-serve through your community. This means better customer satisfaction and less strain on your marketing wallet.
Additionally, if you build a great community, and there are lots of positive commentaries, it gives your business an immediate brand boost. It also instills a sense of trust in your customers. Since your community appears healthy, ergo, so must be your business.
Online communities also help your business build relationships with your customers and audience by allowing you to make real connections with real people. This kind of opportunity to humanize your brand should never be overlooked because it’s ultimately what builds brand trust and loyalty over the longterm.
By interacting and, more importantly, listening to your community, you can get excellent insight and feedback—sometimes almost instant—on ways you can improve your business practices and offerings to your customers and, ultimately, better serve them. After all, at the end of the day, serving your audience well is what matters most.
Why Online Community is Good for Your Audience
Online communities allow your audience to interact with you and your brand, as well as other customers and clients that are members of your community.
People can be a part of your community and offer each other support and guidance, which can take some of the pressure off of your brand. Just make sure you are moderating well and that no one is offering advice that is counterproductive or dangerous to other members.
Online communities provide an outlet for people to share and care with each other. Sometimes it’s about knowing you’re not alone in a problem or circumstance and that others have faced something similar that is most reassuring.
Additionally, if you run your community well, and you listen to solid feedback, it makes them feel valued. That means you empower your customers and audience, and nine times out of ten, they will become brand ambassadors that love to talk about your business with their friends and family.
Why Online Community is Good for You
Well, obviously the business benefits are good, but an online community is also good for you as an individual. Just like your audience, you need human connection too. And in these uncertain times with the ability to meet with other people face-to-face dramatically hindered, those connections must be fostered digitally through necessity. Otherwise, it’s much too easy to sink into dark places, where not only your business suffers, but so does the quality of life.
Quick Tips for Fostering an Active Online Community
- Pick a platform. You can use a social media platform, and that’s free, or you can build your own platform. Both have pros and cons, so weigh them well and choose what makes the most sense for your business.
- Fulfill community need. That need is connection. People need it because, without it, we go a little insane. Fulfill that need by providing the space and opportunity for a community, and it will begin to grow on its own.
- Share or produce stellar content. It’s the fodder that runs the machine. Aim to provide insane value, inspire, or tickle the funny bone. Even better if you mix all three approaches. Also, remember the 80/20 rule. 80% value, 20% self-promotion.
- Celebrate people in your community. Notice someone that is always providing valuable help and support to other community members? Reward them with some recognition. Make it a habit to reward great people in your community. You could even enlist some top fans as moderators and help them feel even more valued. It’s basically a win-win for you, just make sure it’s a member that’s proven themselves and fully supports your brand values.
- When in doubt, take heed from other online communities. There are many out there doing the whole online thang spectacularly well. Join them, lurk, and take notes. Eventually, you can begin to engage and build relationships with other communities that could then lend a hand as you begin to build your own.
Engaged, invested online communities are more important than ever. Take the time to learn how you can begin to grow yours, for the sake of your business and for the sake of connection.
There’s no better time to do it than now.