It’s 2019, so let us communicate better to our customers! How? Build the right community building platforms for your business to grow organically.
Creating an online community around your brand helps foster better customer relationships. If you are a small business, having full-fledged offline events may seem like an expensive affair just to meet a few customers.
This is why you need to build online communities. Luckily, they have tools for this.
What is online community building?
If your business has followers, you already have a community. You just need to collect them and have them interact somewhere. Preferably, an online space.
Creating an online community means gathering like-minded customers to an outlet on the internet to have discussions, updates and debate about your brand.
Just like a physical community, members get together to share common interests. These communities are terrific places to connect one-on-one while building relationships with a larger audience and industry influencers.
Every minute you spend promoting your community you should spend 2-3 minutes trying to convert newcomers to users. – Richard Millington, feverbee.com
Why does your business need a community?
When you started out your business, who were the first few customers you got? Where are they now? How can you entice new customers who are not completely sold on your brand?
Since organising offline communities are expensive, online communities are the safer way for you to make new connections. Building a community does not improve your brand image, it also helps you gather intel on how your competitors are doing. Besides this:
1. Identifying with your brand: By creating an online community platform for your customers, you are helping them identify themselves with your brand. For example, Apple users consistently use the company’s products despite soaring prices because they identify with the brand.
2. Streamlining feedback and customer complaints: Frustrated customers can go to any length to have their complaints heard. This means they could rant on your social media, website, or any platform where the general public can see. Providing a forum for your customers to vent their grievances can help your brand respond to them quicker and maintain peace.
3. Scaling your business: It does not matter what your business does if you need to grow your business, you need to rely on customer interaction. Before you launch a new service/feature/product, you can conduct a quick customer survey on your community to test drive your ideas before investing large amounts of time or money to bring the product into the market. If your most loyal customers are not sold on it, chances are no one else will be.
You only need 1,000 true fans to build a tribe around your brand – Seth Godin
5 Community building platforms/tools your business can use:
We agreed not to go offline just yet, so setting up your communities through online forums should be your goal. To do this, you need to know where your audiences are most active. Your online platform is where your community will live and where most of the interactions, conversations, and community building will take place.
Social Media Platforms:
If it is free, leverage on it. Even if your business does not have a website, you can use social media to reach out to your customers. This also helps you when you are starting out your business. Begin from the ground up. Gather your followers on WhatsApp groups. Create a Facebook Group, apart from your Facebook page and make the group private. Your customers feel like they are part of a club and it helps develop a sense of belonging.
Before this, find out where your customers are most active. If they are on LinkedIn, create a group there and you can redirect them to your other communities.
Online Forums – Quora and Reddit
New to creating communities? Take a look at how forums like Quora and Reddit are acing the community building platform gamut.
Quora: Quora is an online community builder that works on a Q&A system to get people to interact with each other. On Quora, you will find more like-minded people that you can later gather to your more private groups. Create a Quora profile for your brand and join Quora spaces, a new feature that allows people to curate collections and form communities around shared interests and tastes.
Reddit: The Reddit community is diverse. You have subreddits that are directed toward a specific topic and different subreddits can involve people with very specific interests. You can create your own community on Reddit and start discussions there. Make sure you also follow existing communities and gather intel.
Tribe (as the name suggests) is a modern online community platform that enables your customer base to connect and network using your brand. Using this software community building platform helps you boost brand engagement and directly impacts your bottom line. Its features include:
- Easy login from other platforms like Linkedin or Google and social media channels.
- Social media-friendly feature like polls, questions comments and question sharing.
- Third-party integration with Zapier, Telegram and other apps.
- Add widgets to your website to allow customers to engage with other parts of the community.
Meetup is a community platform that helps you find local communities. If your business is starting out, you can join different communities suing Meetup and interact with other businesses. You can also use Meetup to meet other business influencers. Creating an online community using Meetup is easy and does not require any coding skills.
Surprised? So were we when we were doing our research. You can make use of emails to reach out to existing as well as potential customers by creating a monthly newsletter. More than a tool, this also acts as a good channel to redirect your customers to your online forums. Email is not dead. If you have a list of customers and you have their emails, think about creating a monthly newsletter. You can use free or paid tools to personalize your messages like Drip and MailChimp.
Luckily, if you have an Instamojo account, you can take care of the email community using Instamojo’s MailChimp. Watch how you can use it in the video below: