9 Steps on How to Build an Online Community
9 steps on how to build an online community intro
Whether you are a programmer, a visual artist, a media pundit, or a niche aficionado, online communities are there for you. Since the offer online is huge, more and more people are joining as we speak.
By now everyone is part of one and finds at least one reason to be there. But good online communities that grow as time passes are special.
If you want to get all the benefits from them, you got to know about how to actually build them big and strong.
In today’s article, we will do just that by mentioning 9 clever methods/considerations to keep in mind.
Get to Know Your Audience
First and foremost, you got to make sure you understand your audience well. This includes its preferred interests, language and tone, as well as what influences it, etc.
This point is so crucial because you’re not there to pretend you care about them but to honestly engage.
Once you get to know your audience, everything you do, from the silliest comment, will be better received. And by extension, you and they will have a vibrant community on your hands.
There are various ways to gain an understanding of it. For example, you could research by looking at blogs and groups, or by using keywords.
Another main method is to simply experiment a bit. There won’t be a way to exactly know them until you go through experiences together. Like in physical relationships, experience and history together play a big role in enduring the bond.
Find a Solution to Their Problem.
When you get to know your audience, you will start to see some of their problems. Then, we recommend digging deeper and identifying as many pressing issues as possible.
You aim for variety and large numbers because you want to pick a few and provide a solution to them.
For example, some problems may have to do with their relationship with their parents. Here, there isn’t a great deal you can do, besides entertain and extending a community to them.
But imagine if someone is having trouble ascending on their career. And you, because of your knowledge of X skill/field, give them a clear and substantive solution. That’s what we are aiming at here.
Give Real Value
When you provide substantive solutions, you are giving real value in the process. So, in a nutshell, real value is nothing more than contributing to others in an important fashion.
A clear example of non-real value is any type of generic content made with the sole purpose of profit. This type of content lacks originality, authenticity and treats its target audience as cash cows.
But of course, you won’t do that because even if you’re not changing someone’s life every time. Because you provide solutions and give what people want/need, doing so with passion, value emerges naturally.
Interact With Your Community
Even if you are your community’s only source of joy, you must engage regularly to keep it. Again, just like with any relationship, contact (of a positive kind) strengthens them.
One great fact is that interactions come in many shapes and forms online. You count with polls, posts, comments, videos, asking for submissions, reviews, Q&A, lives, etc.
And very importantly as well, not everything has to be connected with your content. For example, you could spend a few hours a month on a casual chit-chat and still be making your community stronger.
Setup Platforms For Your Community (Like Facebook Groups)
Of course, to interact you need a space. Thankfully, the online world again gives you many great options for all kinds of folks.
Let’s talk about FB groups for a moment since they are very popular and quite long living. On them, you will see people posting, commenting, and engaging often. Even those that only like or read get into the community and absorb some of its particularities.
For example, these platforms often allow for internal language, jokes, references, to emerge. And everyone, in one way or the other, gets influenced by it. Which is exactly what you are aiming at.
One piece of advice, make sure to pick one platform that fits well with your audience and content. Reddit is not the same as Tumblr, nor as FB.
Grow Your Community Frequently
Though we tend to like keeping our circles strong and small, it is better to keep expansion always in mind here. By that, we don’t mean a type of imperialist mission, but only a healthy dose of ambition.
Niche small communities are lovely, yes, but you could enlarge it a bit without sacrificing its likeability. Besides, consider that even if you open it for the broad public, not everyone will join. Only those that somehow feel attracted to it will do, which will maintain the essence of the community intact.
Now, there are 2 main ways to grow it. One comes almost naturally as you engage with it and continue to provide value. People will realize that and spread the word, forming a healthy feedback loop.
The other method is to pursue it. For example, you can ask your audience to spread the word. Or do it yourself, via posts in other sites to drag some audiences, collabs, giveaways, competitions, etc.
Don’t Ask For Money
We all understand that making a few bucks as a reward for the great work and value is fair. But, if you are thinking about building a community, it is not a good step to take.
This is because it simply gives the impression that you are in it for the cash. It could be even worse if people think you “were faking all along”. Don’t get offended if you encounter some of those presumptions. We have to admit the internet is full of people that only care about money, so suspicion is natural, we even suffer from it.
But please, don’t get discouraged and believe that a strong community and money cannot go together.
They surely can, and the way to go is to turn that step of “converting” into a natural transition. If you are giving great value and count with a nice community, sales will follow if you intend it.
Besides, if you get along well, you might get some contributions based on that alone. Just picture a friend of yours starting a business, you will at least contribute once to him/her, even if you don’t like the project. Now imagine, you are that friend of your audience, but they do like what you are giving them. Why wouldn’t they monetary contribute/repay?
Ask to Join Your Sales Funnel
With that realization in mind, what follows is only to direct them to your sales funnel. Which is the process of securing a sale, from the very start to the end. An example online starts with reading a post, then clicking on a site, following, and later converting.
Besides, when you incorporate them into this process, you are not asking for money alone. You are saying, “I got this valuable product, and I believe you know I deserve some credit for it”. A stronger basis to build a mutually beneficial relationship than this escapes me.
Lastly, another method that is connected to the one about interaction, is to do this. Events, of all kinds, work as opportunities to bring more people together than usual. And let the distinct features of the community thrive.
We are a social species; our communities are places that give us a sense of belonging and a bigger purpose. What better way to go than allowing spaces for this to flourish?
Besides, they can be great spaces to have fun, further get to know them, and even sell merch!
Regardless of where you see them, events are a must.
Conclusion of 9 Steps on How To Build an Online Community
A key takeaway is to remember 4 words: genuine, knowing, value, interaction. If they become your mantra, you will succeed with your mission of building a strong community. And we are certain that, all those 4 are more than familiar to you.
Thanks for reading this article, we hope it has been helpful and wish you all good luck as always.