If you were asked what types of advertisements you prefer to see online, what would you answer? For most consumers, they like seeing brands that connect with them and make them feel valued as their consumers. They want to be engaged in their products, not forced to buy them.
But the sad truth is that most businesses focus on hard-sell. Their only goal is marketing their products and services, saying that they are the best or that you need them. But how many of them make an effort to engage and converse with their consumers? Very few.
In this day and age, hard-sell ads no longer cut it. Instead, consumers want a relationship with the brand. They want to feel remembered and valued. Hence, businesses must strive to create a space wherein customers can build that bond and foster their loyalty and interest towards it. The whole consumer experience doesn’t start and end with the purchase of a product. Instead, it involves the whole cycle of the transaction—including post-sale. There lies the importance of building an online community. So, how do you create a powerful online community?
Take small steps
A powerful online community cannot build itself overnight. It takes a lot of baby steps before it could grow. You begin with the smallest things like creating an email list or starting forum threads. You have to build your credibility first. Test the waters, if you please.
Connect with your consumers first through the smallest of acts. Build your relationship and keep them on the loop. Soon, you’ll notice that your network is beginning to scale up and will gain the potential to be a real community. And that’s when you can build your site or move to a bigger platform, put up zero trust security measures to protect your data, study the behaviours of your consumers and implement targeted and well-informed strategies.
When you start with a small group of people on a website or Facebook group, it’s easy to keep the quality of posts and content at bay. But the more people that join the community, the more difficult it is to retain quality. Many online communities end up failing because of too many members and the inability to monitor every post. So it instead becomes a spam group where people post random things they’re selling—even if it’s utterly unrelated to your niche or industry.
As much as possible, you want to keep the focus of your community in line. Make sure the quality of the posts are still relevant to your purpose and the value that your first members see in it. If you think you can’t manage quality if your members grow, consider exclusivity. This will make it easier to retain the quality of the platform and will ensure higher engagement.
It’s OK to lose control of the platform.
The whole point of building an online community is creating a place where people can engage not only with your brand but also with each other. Hence, your job is only to start the conversation. But you should pretty much let the platform steer to its direction on its own.
Refrain from dictating the flow of the conversations. Allow your community to connect on their own terms. Don’t worry about losing control. The fact remains that you opened up a space where people can form relationships and connect with like-minded individuals. For that, they will stay loyal to your brand. Studies show that improving customer loyalty and retention by even just 5% can boost your profits by 25% to 95% in the long run.
A powerful online platform where people can form connections and gain value that will prove beneficial for them is a more subtle but effective way to market your brand. It fosters deeper relationships and loyalty among your consumers—which ultimately can boost retention and generate good returns.