Online communities are gaining importance as more and more businesses are getting online and remote. Your customers can engage better with your business and connect with other people who have similar interests as them.
When you are starting a new business, your first few sales usually come from friends and family, but it becomes difficult to find new customers after that. Sure you can run ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, but they will only give you sales as long as you keep pouring money on ads.
Another route you can take is influencer marketing. If you can find the right influencer for your business, you can easily find customers on a large scale to buy from you. But this too is for a short time when the influencer puts up a post or video. People will forget about your business unless they are kept engaged. How do you ensure your customers come back to buy from you without pouring money on ads? How do you keep them engaged?
This is where an online community comes into play.
What is an Online Community? And why does it matter?
Communities come in all shapes and sizes. It can be a small 10 member community or even a huge 100k member community. A community is a group of people who share some common interests. In an online community, these people engage in discussions, share experiences and build stronger relationships.
Online communities are gaining importance as more and more businesses are getting online and remote. Your customers can engage better with your business and connect with other people who have similar interests as them. This increases their probability of buying again from you and becoming your loyal customers.
How To Build An Online Community
Step 1: Choose the right platform for your online community. There are many platforms to choose from. starting with Facebook groups, Slack etc. to full blown community platforms like Discord, Tribe.so, Mighty Network or Scenes.
Once you have finalized your community platform, you start building value for your community members. The best way to start giving value to your members is by events, AMAs or webinars. The goal is to find something that helps your community members achieve their goals. These could be secret tips, tricks or hacks, blog posts or helpful videos.
Step 2: Once you’ve tried a few things and got feedback on that, you’ll understand what works with your community and what people are getting most value from. Once you’ve understood what works, it’s time to kick things up a notch.
Double down on such content, bring more expert insights for your community members. Keep them engaged and focus on getting more engagement from them. You can give specific roles to your community members like moderators, Early Members, VIPsmonitors, admins, etc. This will boost their sense of belongingness and they will return the favour by keeping your community a healthy and safe place to be for everyone.
Does it even work?
Sand Cloud is a great example to understand how community helps a business to grow. Sand cloud used instagram to build a community of people who loved beaches and Seas and could join them on their mission to clean up the ocean.
Instead of going for the big influencers, they choose to go for micro influencers who share the same passion for beaches and have an engaged audience. They reached out to everyone who showed interest in their mission. This took a year worth of hard work, but it resulted in $400k of profits for them in the first year itself.
Just Strong is another great example of how building an online community benefits a business. Just Strong has an ambassador program, but not just a common one, they have an online vetting system which decides whether an applicant is allowed to become an ambassador or not. They do this to make sure that the values of brand ambassadors align with the brand itself. All these ambassadors share some common interests and values which makes them part of the community. They have a private facebook group where they can share their experiences and grow together. These ambassadors get discounts on any purchases they make and get commission for every sale they generate. This program has helped Just Strong grow faster and make profits like never before.
So What’s The Next Step?
Whether you are just starting out with your business or have an existing one, an online community is your sure shot next step. Build an online community and turn your casual customers into your community members, then see the power of communities transform your revenues.
Pro tip: Keep the conversations more about them and what they like and less about you and what you sell.