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4 steps to building an online community

What marketing strategy can boost brand loyalty and help with product development through focus groups? Online communities. This strategy looks at creating a place online for individuals interested in your brand to gather and interact with each other. These communities can be public or closed and there is a range of platforms that they can be hosted on.

When you start to develop an online community, you need to answer three questions:

1. What do your customers want from an online community?

You will have to think about if your community will be a place for like-minded individuals to gather and talk about common interests which are related to your product or service, or will it be a space for them to become better informed on your offering.

2. Which problem will your online community solve?

Remember that people will only remain in your community if they feel they are benefiting from the association with the group. Make sure you are satisfying a problem or a need of your community members.

3. What content will you need to produce?

When you are online, you can communicate through video, audio, written and visual content. You will need to test which content your members respond to best and continue to make more of that type of content.

Here are four steps to think about when you start to build your online community.

Step 1: Discover the reason for creating a community

If you are creating a community to toot your own horn, then there is a good chance that your community will be unsuccessful. Your community needs to be a place where your followers can be heard and share their ideas with you. Communities can help you to get new clients through word-of-mouth, decrease the amount spent on customer service, and help to test your new ideas on a curated focus group.

STEP 2: Choose a platform

Now that you have defined the purpose of the community, you can choose a platform. Do you want the platform to be gated and show exclusivity, or do you want anyone to be able to join your community?

If you choose a gated platform, you can use Facebook groups and ask your follower’s some questions before you let them into your group. You can host open communities on your Facebook or Instagram page or your YouTube channel. To encourage people to select a gated community, you may offer tips and content that is exclusive to the group.

STEP 3: Create a community management team

Like your business, a successful community needs to be managed. You will need the following activities to be attended to by someone in your business:

1. A moderator

You will need to have someone who monitors the chats to prevent trolls and negativity from growing in your community. Ensure the moderator has clear instructions on what to do when guidelines have been breached.

2. A leader

Who will help to guide conversations and welcome newcomers to your group? This is a person who will help keep engagement up in the group and share any useful information with your business.

3. A content creator

People have joined your group to meet like-minded people and to learn more about your business. You will need to create content that will wow your followers.

By having these three positions your community will grow from strength to strength.

STEP 4: Develop a set of guidelines

Like with any community you are a member of, there are rules or guidelines. It is important to have guidelines so when members step out of line you can reference the guidelines you had in place when you started the group. The guidelines should be a living document and changed as and when is appropriate.

With these four steps, you will be well on your journey to creating an engaged online community.

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