Build an online community in 6 steps!
Make contact, enter into a relationship and create that feeling of belonging. This is increasingly important in the digital world and an online community can certainly offer a solution! There are many benefits: more website traffic, a stronger customer relationship and ultimately increased sales. The consequence? Online communities have become an increasingly popular tool. But what is an online community, how do you build one and is it something for you?
What is an Online Community?
Simply put, an online community is a group of people who come together digitally. That actually always happens on the basis of a common goal or shared interest and can be anything. From a business interest to a hobby or lifestyle. The purpose of such a group is to communicate with each other, share information and learn from each other. This is done through various channels. Think of: social media platforms, forums, chat apps or platforms specially built for this purpose.
Why build an online community?
Building an online community offers many benefits. It gives you the opportunity to grow your audience and build a loyal fan base. Especially if you choose to facilitate a platform, you can build a community that feels connected to your brand, company or organization.
In addition, an online community can be a direct source of feedback. Communicating regularly with your community members can give you a unique insight into their needs. Use this insight! This makes your products or services better and more relevant to your target group at the bottom of the line.
An online community can also function as a marketing tool. By building a strong community that talks positively about your brand, you create ambassadors who can help you promote your company or organization.
Online communities type
- Interest: a group that comes together based on a shared interest or passion.
- Action: communities coming together to effect change. For example, activists forming a group to plan protests.
- City: communities within geographic boundaries. For example, a Facebook group focused on things to do when visiting Utrecht.
- Practice or profession: also called a trade community, this is when members of a particular profession come together to share professional development tips. Think of teachers who form a group to further develop their professional knowledge.
- To learn: these are communities that focus on shared learning goals. These goals can relate to a profession, but can also relate to a hobby or non-professional goal, such as learning a sport.
- Brand: communities that focus on a common mission, purpose, or lifestyle supported by a company or brand. This can result in more brand loyalty and a better relationship between the brand and the customer.
6 steps to build an online community
1. Define the purpose of your community
Before you start building an online community, it's important to define your purpose. What do you want to achieve with the community and what are the main objectives? Make sure this is super sharp before continuing. This will later help you determine the direction of the community, the choice of platform and the tools you need to achieve it.
2. Create community guidelines and rules
Once you've established the purpose of the community, it's important to create guidelines and rules. This will help create a safe and respectful environment for all members and will ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them. Make sure these guidelines are clearly communicated and there are consequences for not following them.
3. Choose a community hosting platform
There are many different platforms available to build an online community. It is important to choose one that suits your organization and objectives. For example, consider Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, forums, or purpose-built community platforms such as Discord or Mighty Networks. Each platform has its own pros and cons, so it's important to consider the options before making a choice.
4. Identify community stakeholders
Identify the people involved in the community and map out how they are involved. For example, they can be moderators, administrators or experts who help create content. It is important to know who these stakeholders are so that you can put together a team and divide tasks to make the community successful.
5. Build your community
When you've completed all the steps mentioned above, it's time to build your community. Start by inviting people you know who are interested in your community topic. Communicate regularly with members and encourage them to participate and share their knowledge. Leverage different types of content such as images, videos, and blog posts to increase engagement.
- Communicate regularly with members and encourage them to participate
- Create valuable content relevant to community members
- Provide interaction between members, for example by organizing online events, Q&As, webinars or discussions.
- Use gamification techniques to increase engagement, such as giving out badges or points for certain actions.
6. Promote your online community
Once you've built a strong foundation, it's important to let it grow. This can be achieved by promoting the community through social media or by organizing offline events. It is also important to regularly update and refresh the community to keep it interesting for members.
In short, if you're looking for a way to grow your brand while creating a community with the same motivations, building an online community is definitely worth considering. Looking for extra tips to make the launch of your online community platform an even greater success? Read this blog additionally with 9 useful tips.
Growing online together?
Although building an online community takes time and effort, it can have a major impact on the perception of your brand or organization. Are you unable to make time yourself, but do you think it is important to offer your target group a platform? Then it may be smart to hire an agency to help you with your marketing activities. Social Brothers has a lot of experience with Online marketing, IF THE, design en Development – of course data driven.
Do you want advice about or help with your online marketing? Social Brothers will help you! Contact us via the module at the bottom of this page or visit our Contact page.
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