The term community software is not something that has been around for very long in the digital marketing world. Yet it is essential when it comes to community building!
In an ever-growing and ever-evolving digital universe, new innovations and solutions seem to come around at an alarmingly fast rate. It often feels like we have to be quick off the mark so as not to miss out on the latest tool, trend or innovation that will boost our digital marketing strategies and online community building.
Community software: a definition
The word community seems to be bounded about constantly when people discuss the benefits of robust digital strategies for their brand, and rightly so. Communities are all around us, at work, at home, in our local area. They are what binds us together as human beings, what encourage social interaction and community-led growth, and, simply put, what prevent us from feeling alone.
A virtual community is no different, and has the power not just to foment online communication and the sharing of ideas, but also to organically promote and sustain an idea, a product or an entire brand through community engagement.
Community building involves creating and nurturing these online communities in virtual spaces, which are known as community platforms , community platform apps or community networks. These virtual spaces are powered by community software, which refers to any software that has been developed to facilitate the sharing of data and user interaction in virtual spaces.
Sometimes also known as social software, collaboration software or groupware, this effective tool can be used in a variety of online spaces in order to facilitate community building and community engagement, including social media, websites, blogs and forums.
Community building: the key to success?
Community building via community software is a powerful tool for growing your brand image, increasing average ROI and reaching prospective clients via third parties. This refers to organically created community ambassadors who promote your brand or products with which they feel a particular attachment thanks to their presence within your virtual community.
Creating and maintaining these online communities is a primary goal of many companies, as it is now widely accepted that success in the digital age requires digital solutions!
These communities have real value not only for brands, who can leverage their power for audience building, but also for customers, who treat these communities like resources. They are spaces where information can be found, ideas can be shared and problems can be solved!
There are many examples of really strong brand communities. One example is Starbucks, who has been very successful in creating and nurturing its community through various social initiatives to boost user engagement and interaction. These include the annual #redcupcontest holiday, its volunteer matching service or simply its knack of boosting engagement through user-generated content. We’ve all seen a pumpkin-spiced latte on Instagram, right?
Other companies, like Disney or Lego, have built on reputation and notoriety to expand their communities globally, but smaller companies have also been successful. Take CloudPeeps for example, an online platform that connects businesses with freelancers, online content and marketing specialists. The platform also offers an online space for freelancers where ideas, advice, content and stories can be shared… and it works!
Online community platform: the best tool to help you build and engage your community
In simple terms, your online community is your best way to analyze and understand what your customers are saying about your brand or product. That is why having a strong, effective online community platform developed using community software is so important.
Yes, social media can be great, but its ease-of-access and open source content means that it can be hard to reach committed, engaged brand ambassadors and loyal customers through all the noise. Setting up and nurturing your community on your own platform can go a long way to solving this problem!
Your platform will provide you with a space to communicate regularly and sustainably with your community. Customers can troubleshoot with ease, contact customer service or simply chit-chat with like-minded people. This boosts your community engagement!
Furthermore, these spaces are great for creating links, friendships and professional relationships that last! Members can organize events and get-togethers, online or offline! This can really show off the power of your brand, and most importantly make sure that your community endures!