Imagine if you could leverage the power of your most loyal customers and followers in order to increase brand awareness in the digital world in an easy, cost-effective way.
Image turning these loyal customers into powerful online brand ambassadors. Imagine boosting online marketing ROI via a centralised internet community.
Well, this is what community building is all about. Creating communities online is a surefire way to foster engagement, interact with customers, access feedback and essential data for brand development, as well as generate revenues via online sales or encourage point-of-sale footfall.
But how do you go about creating your online community, and what’s really the point? MeltingSpot has the low-down.
Creating communities online: what's the point?
Social media platforms have become the primary hub of all online marketing. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest… All these platforms can bring real value to a brand and help boost reach, engagement and notoriety.
But the constant barrage of apparent new trends and digital tricks to leverage in order to get your company ahead of the game can seem tedious. Why build yet another web community when you already have a great following on social media? It’s a fair question.
The real value in developing and nurturing an online community can be found in the social interaction that it engenders. Community building means creating a digital space where your most loyal customers can interact, exchange and enjoy their passion for your product or service.
In turn, their engagement can foster community growth, with prospective customers attracted by the fun, engaging, and inclusive nature of the community space you have developed via community software on your online platform. In short, members of your community create value in your product and create relationships between themselves.
Creating communities, both online and offline, can be a real advantage for firms whose aim is to get closer to their customers. Community building online means creating a social group of loyal customers.
The interactions within this group and with interlocutors from your firm can be analyzed in order to better understand their attitudes towards your products and services. Really getting to know who your customers are means you can adapt your communications strategy to enhance engagement, notoriety and sales (online or offline).
Furthermore, community building also means developing and nurturing organic ambassadors for your brand. Enthusiastic individuals will not only help boost brand awareness, giving a regular positive spin on your activities, products or services, but they will also talk about your brand to their friends.
Thus, your community will begin to grow. These engaged brand ambassadors might also offer their own advice, help, written content or just some ideas that might help you and your brand evolve even more. What’s not to lose?
Don’t forget, your community ambassadors are loyal customers. They are far more likely to stick around and continue engaging with your brand if they feel like they belong to a community. Community building, therefore, means an increased retention rate, and increased engagement which translates into increased revenue and increased recommendations.
Here is Céline Riemenschneider from Canva at The CLG Summit 2023 by The Community Lab talking about Building successful Ambassador programs:
So there’s your why, now let’s look at how.
How to Build an online community
Starting from scratch may seem a little overwhelming, but by following just a few simple steps, you can really get your web community up and running in no time at all.
Step 1: Identify your key stakeholders.
Creating an online community means setting up an internal structure that can manage the community, deal with interactions with customers and generally animate discussions on your chosen platform. It is important to dedicate specific jobs to your team members, and this of course means selecting a community manager.
Your community manager will handle all things related to your community. They will deal with the day-to-day running of the community, troubleshoot problems, get feedback from customers and generally make sure everything is running smoothly. They act as the number one interlocutor between your company and your community members, and so play a vital role in improving your online brand notoriety!
Your whole marketing team will be involved in running the community, especially when it comes to content creation for driving community engagement and encouraging community members to buy your products or visit your POS.
Last but not least, your community members! They are your organic stakeholders and brand ambassadors acting on your behalf to animate and galvanise your virtual space!
Step 2: Define the purpose of your online community.
It may seem obvious, but community building without defining a clear goal is doomed to failure. What is the purpose of your community? Who is the target audience? What do you hope to achieve? These are key questions to consider before launching your community platform. If customers don’t understand why joining your community is worthwhile, they won’t!
Step 3: Choose your community platform.
Selecting your community platform is the next important step once you have defined your clear goals and objectives. It is important to decide how big you want your community to grow. Obviously, you don’t want to create a community with thousands of members in a WhatsApp group!
So you need to decide if you want a ‘free’ community platform (Facebook, Reddit, Instagram) or an ‘owned’ platform like MeltingSpot! The advantage of choosing an owned platform is that it is a safe space that you host and control yourself. It is also more secure, as members will need to log in with a password to enter your virtual space!
Step 4: Build a member persona.
Who is your typical community member? This question is paramount to building a successful online community!
Your number one objective should be to fill your community with people that fit your target profile. That also means that your community must offer these members something unique that they cannot access anywhere else! Once you have figured out the right messaging to use to reach your specific target audience, it will be easier to encourage new members to join your community!
Step 5: Promoting your community.
Once the backend of your community has been developed, it’s time to start promoting it! Your marketing team are already experts on product promotion both on- and offline, and so should have the tools to successfully promote your community to gain as many members as possible from within your target audience!
This means integrating your community into your wider marketing strategy. Your community is now a fantastic marketing tool, unique in that you can reach and interact with loyal customers directly!
Furthermore, you can partner with influencers to spread the word, invite all your contacts to join, or set up a referral program that awards members who invite the most people to join! This can even be made into a fun, engaging online game!