Three Steps to Growing Your Online Community
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a need for social distancing–impacting numerous industries, local businesses and our personal lives. Businesses that are able to adapt quickly to these changes will be able to gain a competitive advantage, despite stricter health guidelines.
It is therefore more important than ever to build a community around your company.
People can find exactly what they need in today’s digital world with just one click. How can you be competitive? You can create and nurture a community for your business. Engaged communities increase sales , customer retention, and foster brand loyalty.
What’s a community?
Your customers and clients are the heart of a community. Communities are built around values and interests that are compatible with your business. It is a place where people can meet and interact. It’s a place where community members feel welcome, empowered, and encouraged to interact with you and your business.
Your community’s success depends on the members. The success of your community depends on more than what you post. How you address/moderate it is only half of the story. To have a vibrant community, members must share their perspectives, interact respectfully with each other and recruit new members.
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How can you create a community around your company?
These are three tips to help you build and grow a community that is true to your business.
- Make a space for growth
- Consider Your Member Journey
- Your Community can do the same for you
01. Make a space for growth
Use the right tools first. A platform that allows you to post, connect, and engage with members is essential.
Adding a forum to your business website is a good idea. Forums allow community members to connect and share their concerns.
Engagement can be a problem in the beginning. Customers might not stay on your site long enough to see the community you created for them. It’s important to spread the word. To reach your customers, email marketing is a great way to do so. Create a social post for new people to connect with you via social media.
Wix allows you to promote your site and keep up with your community via the go. All your site content, business information, and chats between members and you, as well as blogs, are available with the Wix owner app.
02. Consider Your Member Journey
Your business’ ultimate goal is to sell, from online shops to service industry. It could be a product, a service, subscription, or anything else. It is important to keep your business’ offering in the forefront.
The customer journey is different for every business. However, it is important to know where your audience is at each touchpoint with your brand.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What does it feel like to be the first person to come across your product?
- What will motivate them to purchase?
- How can you keep them coming back?
- How can you turn them from casual shoppers to active brand advocate?
- How can you help them solve their problems/needs?
You can start conversations with customers when you have a clear understanding of what they think and feel when you interact with them. Understanding your customers’ journey and doing your research will help you to create meaningful conversations and rewarding relationships.
Let’s look at a real company that sells skincare products to see how it plays out. People rarely openly discuss skincare without being asked. If you approach the conversation with the perspective of “staying young”, you will get people talking. The topic of “staying young” can take many forms. There are sub-communities that may be involved (e.g. forever young, neverlanders or age ambiguous), each with their own interests, goals and concerns. This is your chance to present your product in an easier, more personal manner.
You can align your thoughts with the language used by your community when they share their thoughts. You want to be a thought leader in your industry, but you must also stay true to those customers who are actively engaged with your products or services. This is how you can grab their attention and keep them loyal to your company.
03. Your Community can do the same for you
Many businesses consider content marketing when it comes to content. Businesses have traditionally taken a top-down, authoritative approach when packaging their products/services. Blog topics often reflect what business owners believe will be most appealing to their customers and motivate them to act.
This expert perspective is great for creating a strong brand voice and driving traffic to your website . However, it doesn’t do much for building a community. Why? Your community is your content.
user-generated content fuels communities. The topics are driven by members, who lead the discussions. These conversations can range from product recommendations and testimonials to troubleshooting tips and multiple ways to wear an accessory. The unique experiences of your members with your products/services, and the way they share them with others is what will attract like-minded people.
Let’s return to the example of skincare. A blog post could be written highlighting the advantages of one of your products. Your readers will not only get the information they need to understand your product’s value, but also a highly branded, top-down marketing message.
You could also reach out to your community and ask about their skincare habits. Talk to your community about their daily routines, what products they use, how it differs from night skincare, and the importance of diet. These discussions are a great way to get involved and find out what other topics arise. You might discover that beauty and youth are only the tip of an iceberg. It may be that your community’s primary concern is health. These insights can be used to help you craft your content.
You can now create a blog article from forum discussions with real inputs from your community. Content written with this “shoulder-to-shoulder” voice has the potential to make a real impact on potential customers and even your sales.
generating articles from your community, remember that the focus should be on the user’s journey and not the product itself. Mentioning your product should not be considered an addition, but something that naturally arises.
One small step for your community, one giant leap for your business
Every step taken to build a community is a huge leap for your company. It is important to establish clear goals and create a strategy plan. Building a community requires discipline, hard work, and the right mindset.