The Significance of Virtual Communities for Your Business_background

Establishing a strong presence on social media is no longer just a priority for modern businesses. It has become a crucial aspect that cannot be overlooked.

It has become a crucial pathway to enhance credibility, boost reputation, increase visibility, and strengthen relationships within your ecosystem, including clients, employees, partners, suppliers, and more.

A virtual community serves as a dynamic platform to engage, nurture, and interact with members over an extended period. Unlike social media platforms that gather passive audiences, online communities bring together active participants. We are witnessing a paradigm shift as internet users transition from being mere spectators to becoming empowered contributors. This new reality is exemplified by the emergence of the metaverse, user-generated content (UGC), the influence of social media influencers, and the growing prominence of virtual communities.

But what does a virtual community truly mean in today's era of digital transformation? What are the real implications it holds?

MeltingSpot provides a comprehensive exploration of the rise of branded virtual communities, covering everything you need to know.👇

Before venturing into creating your own online community, it is vital to grasp its essence.

💡 The definition of a virtual community is simple: it is a collective of individuals united by shared interests, brought together on a digital platform that transcends geographical and temporal boundaries.

A branded virtual community is built upon shared values, a cohesive culture, common interests, and profound connections. It represents a network that converges diverse members in a single digital space, facilitating the establishment of meaningful relationships from a distance. These members encompass customers, solution users, partners, employees, shareholders, prospects, future recruits, and more.

While each B2B or B2C community can shape its own rules of inclusion and leverage tailored tools, the ultimate objective remains consistent: to foster unity and engagement among members who share common attributes over an extended period.

Creating a Virtual Community: The Significance for Businesses

In today's digital landscape, 67% of internet users often or systematically turn to the internet to gather information before placing their trust in a company (according to a study conducted by CCM Benchmark Institute / Eulerian Technologies). In the customer journey, online reputation and credibility are recognized as invaluable assets for businesses. However, it's not just customer ratings and reviews that hold influence; internet users also pay close attention to the brand's connection with its community.

  • Do companies actively involve individuals in their decision-making processes and content creation?
  • Is the brand genuinely engaged with its audience on social media platforms
  • Does a vibrant community exist where peer-to-peer interactions take place?

These questions have now become essential considerations for internet users, greatly influencing their sense of reassurance.

For both B2B and B2C companies, establishing a robust Community-Based Marketing strategy early on is strongly advised. Even before introducing a product to the market or seeking funding, creating a dedicated and cohesive virtual community offers numerous advantages, including:

  • Swift identification of a network of ambassadors, beta testers, or highly engaged members, facilitated by the generation of user-generated content (UGC) on the web. ✅
  • Heightened brand visibility, recognition, and reassurance. ✅
  • Established credibility and a solid online reputation. ✅
  • Leveraging collective intelligence to drive innovation, develop new products and services, and refine marketing, product, and sales strategies. ✅
  • Streamlined remote collaboration through a centralized web-based platform. ✅
  • Acceleration of business growth through a Community-Led Growth strategy, facilitating customer acquisition and fostering loyalty among the most engaged members. ✅

In this informative video, Nikki Thibodeau and Holly Firestone share their expertise on the importance of measuring and maximizing the return on investment (ROI) of a community. Discover the reasons why it is essential to track and optimize the ROI of your community.

If you couldn't attend the live session at the CLG Summit 2023, don't worry! The replay of Nikki Thibodeau and Holly Firestone's presentation is now available on The Community Lab!

Now that you understand what a virtual community is and why it's important to develop a community strategy, the next step is to ensure the long-term engagement and management of your online community.

Animating Your Virtual Community: How to Approach It?

Social Media Management: a necessary yet insufficient strategy

In today's digital landscape, social media and online communities are distinct but interconnected concepts. Likewise, while Social Media Management and Community Management have different objectives, they both play a crucial role in achieving success.

💡 Social Media Management entails devising a comprehensive web content strategy. Within a corporate setting, a Social Media Manager may even be responsible for creating and disseminating diverse content across social media platforms. On the other hand, Community Management involves fostering meaningful interactions with audiences and community members. In this evolving landscape, Community Managers and Social Media Managers are increasingly supported by Community Builders to effectively cultivate online communities.

As these roles continue to evolve, new challenges arise. It is no longer sufficient to merely define a content strategy for social media and rely on one-way communication. Mere dissemination of photos, texts, and videos online falls short of nurturing a community and transforming its members into active participants.

That is why a holistic approach combining Community Management, Social Media Management, and Community-Based Marketing is essential. By prioritizing community engagement, businesses can unlock the true potential of their virtual communities.

Online community tips

Nurturing Your Virtual Community: 3 Key Practices

To go beyond the mere creation and management of an online community, it is essential to understand the core practices for effectively fostering engagement over the long term. Here are three best practices recommended by MeltingSpot:

Host Relevant Events

Virtual communities offer a significant advantage over traditional ones: the ability to organize events online quickly, easily, and cost-effectively. To bring members together and drive their active participation, a successful community animation strategy involves regularly hosting webinars, virtual team-building activities, online conferences, and more. By delivering valuable content and information, your company can seamlessly convert enthusiasm into meaningful engagement.

MeltingSpot's additional tip: Encourage community involvement in co-creating digital events. This approach enables you to better address the informational needs of your community, fostering a tailored and collaborative experience.

Establish a Long-Term Community-Based Marketing Strategy

Effectively animating and engaging a brand community online requires more than isolated events or occasional social media polls. To keep your community members stimulated and continuously offer new experiences.

MeltingSpot advises developing a comprehensive Community-Based Marketing strategy built around a monthly activity calendar. For instance, if you have a B2B company with a community of partners, you can envision a variety of events throughout the year, including webinars, hybrid partner days, conferences featuring renowned speakers, interactive online activities like cooking classes, and networking sessions.

MeltingSpot's additional tip: Foster ongoing interaction with your community between events. Leverage the newsfeed on our all-in-one platform to facilitate discussions and strengthen engagement every single day. Encourage members to connect with one another, expanding their virtual networks.

Collaborate with Engaged Partners to Drive Community Engagement

As the saying goes, "Alone, we may go faster... but together, we can go further." This principle applies to community strategies within companies as well. To successfully animate a community over the long term, it is crucial to forge partnerships with trusted and engaged collaborators.

For example, consider enlisting external speakers to host events, leveraging resources like Community Builders to actively engage community members, and relying on marketing solutions such as MeltingSpot to support your community strategy at every step of the way.

Virtual Community: Ready to Take Action?

You are now well-versed in the realm of virtual communities. Before embarking on your journey, ensure that you follow these 7 indispensable steps to create a thriving e-community:

Steps to create an e-community

In today's landscape, creating online communities has become crucial for both B2B and B2C enterprises aiming to achieve efficient growth.

Looking ahead, the future of community strategies might expand further with the emergence of new 2.0 virtual realms, such as the metaverse. The concept will likely evolve beyond mere online interactions, encouraging the co-creation of novel experiences within futuristic virtual spaces.

To stay informed about the evolving landscape of communities, be sure to follow our upcoming articles.

Community platform

Join CS Nation, our Digital Customer Success Community

Jump into CS Nation, your go-to hub for all things digital customer success! Join hundreds of customer success leaders who are passionate about learning and sharing their knowledge in the realm of digital customer success. Forums, Discussions, Interviews, Masterclasses, Ebooks…

Join CS Nation
You've successfully subscribed to MeltingSpot Blog | Customer education Essentials
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to MeltingSpot Blog | Customer education Essentials
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your biliing information has been updated.
You've canceled to update your billing information.