Trust us: building an online community is not as scary as it seems. A community is nothing more than a group of people with shared interests. In the virtual world, people come together to discuss the topics and products they are passionate about.
An online community is comprised of people who care about your business as much as you do. These clients are your best advocates. They can become best focus group for testing or promoting new products. With a combination of patience, priority on developing quality relationships and down-and-dirty creativity, businesses can create thriving conversations.
When you are ready to roll up your sleeves and get your online community rolling, start with these informative reads for tips on constructing an engaged audience:
Dive into advice on nurturing your online community with David Garland. Key thought: there is difference between building an audience and building a community. David’s tips aim to grow the latter using online and offline platforms. Yes, community building is as much about what happens in the real world as in the virtual one. Each tactic supports the efforts of the other. This read is perfect to get started or for ideas on accelerating the engagement in your online community.
Another easy to read article heaped with tips on developing meaningful interaction within a social community. Ben Schwartz’s take on online community building is about nurturing the relationships to promote and influence others in a measured, planned way. Successful communities aren’t grown on a whim but systematically supported during their growth. From hiring a community manager to scheduling regular blog posts, these tips offer a solid foundation for building a community.
3. Cracking Social: How To Connect Meaningfully With Audiences on Social Media3. Cracking Social: How To Connect Meaningfully With Audiences on Social Media Cracking Social: How To Connect Meaningfully With Audiences on Social Media
When you’re ready for a deeper read on using social media to effectively connect with the audience, turn here. Ipsos is a United Kingdom based company but their insights are global. Their in-depth report covers using social media to effectively connect with the audience. Ipsos interviewed eight social media influencers and incorporates anecdotal examples from their experiences. Be forewarned: the article covers serious ground. Read about how to get into the minds of your audience, the need to tailor content to platforms, effective storytelling, building a social strategy, and thinking forward.
The articles listed before now cover how engaging your audience is vital to a relevant community. What exactly do you need to say to capture their attention? Writer Vanessa DiMauro has been building online communities for over 20 years and is the CEO of Leader Networks. This blog, complete with infographic, provides insight into what you can do with your audience. The questions posed apply to more than just community managers. Knowing what your audience wants and needs drives the online conversation. Discover what it is you should be asking.
After getting a handle on what you should be doing, it’s time to study what not to do, like using the size of your membership to judge your community success. Quantity is not as relevant as quality, whether talking about content or the online conversation. Reading this article helps builders understand that authentic engagement is a process, partially organic (see myth #2), and important in growing with the community. Plus it’s great to avoid the mistakes learned by others along the way.
You’ve read the do’s and don’ts of online community building. Now it’s time to look at successful examples. The five listed in this article have two-way communication down pat. View platforms that you can join to enhance your community, such as Reddit, or study the brand examples like Fark and Buzzfeed. These are great platforms to get anyone started, or for established communities to learn more about user engagement.
Now armed with information and advice, get out there and build your audience. Be prepared to start small. Great communities require invested time and effort, but your sweat will yield rewards in a happy customer base and engaged community. -Casey
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