From marketing to support to product improvement, branded online communities have – and should have – a significant role to play in every business strategy. According to a research published this year, 64% of companies have witnessed improved decision-making after owing a brand community. Also, 80% of marketers say that disseminating content through online communities has helped them increase traffic to a great extent. From generating website traffic to providing self-service support to building brand loyalty to crowdsourcing product ideas, the importance of online communities cannot be undermined.
Though building an online community is not a task so demanding, growing and nurturing it surely is. Here are seven tips that can help you grow your online community with ease.
Focus on Branding
When it comes to branding, you need to focus alike on the look and feel of your online community. The UI design remains the focal point here. This may often be overlooked, but branding plays a vital role in your community growth. You need to ensure that your community is as much brand-oriented as your company’s official website, or else your audience may fail to identify with your brand. Branding helps you build customer trust and brand value. Make sure you update your online community from time to time and interact with your customers to keep it active and growing
Make it Responsive
According to a Google report, people conduct more searches on mobile devices than on computers. Besides, the Mobile Internet Trends report by American venture capitalist Mary Meeker unfolded that people spent more time on their mobiles than on their laptop or desktop. Therefore, your online community must be responsive, following which it is also possible to manage your SEO ranking only for one website and make updates in one place. Since 2015, Google has also made responsive design a priority in terms of search rankings. Moreover, you want to design something that your users could not just use but enjoy. Mobile platform can make their experience related to your brand more rewarding than ever.
Track Audience Behavior
You may have internal analytics capabilities or you can make the most of some free web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Yahoo! Web Analytics or Crazy Egg. But, make sure you track your user behavior. Using analytics tools, you can easily keep an eye on your potential or existing customers’ interests, any shift in their sentiment or topics they are searching for. You are also able to analyze which users are more likely to participate in discussions and answer questions. Alongside, those who tend to instigate disputes and create a negative atmosphere come into your notice.
Instigate Discussions and Look for Feedback
Creating an online community for your existing and potential clients does not necessarily mean you are only there to manage the community. You are also expected to take part in the community because that is what will let you understand how your brand is being perceived in the market and what content resonates with the feelings of your customers. Ask users for feedback related to any new features added to your products or any new products launched by you. Also, initiate and engage in discussions with your customers to learn more about what they are actually looking for.
Engage with Other Sites and Communities
There is no denying that connecting with third-party groups and sites can help you a great deal in promoting your online community. So, without thinking twice, search for other leading group owners as well as forum moderators. Partner with them to boost your marketing efforts and land some of the most persuasive bloggers who could assist you in making your community one among the topmost ones. This is also highly likely to augment your membership.
Social Media Engagement
No doubt, social media cannot outdo online communities, but it definitely has the power to support your online community growth. Without using social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, you can hardly achieve your goal of reaching a wider audience around the world or around the nation, whichever is fitting. Also, don’t emphasize only on sharing your own content. Instead, share what is shared by others too. Ask relevant questions from your customers or visitors and answer theirs too. Going one-to-one with your customers online helps you build better and long-term business relationships with them.
Turn Customers into Brand Advocates
Of course, social media has its own relevance in the progress of your online community. Yet, your real-world relationships stay at the top. Your existing customers trust you already and so, you need to reach out to them and encourage them to take part and advocate for your brand. Using gamification techniques in your community, you can motivate your existing customers to promote your brand, products, and/or services among other users and visitors.
About the Author
Varun is the Technical Manager of LithiumServices at GrazittiInteractive. A Lithium All-Star, he oversees the development and delivery of online communities, while handling multiple projects. Varun has a hands-on experience in handling use cases, functional specification and business analysis.