Once upon a time they were tribes, communities of people who lived according to established rules, rites and customs, united by a common interest, survival. Over time, communities have evolved more and more, to become today, in the digital age, fluid and immaterial, close yet distant, always fast and immediate.
But what is it that makes communities cohesive? What is the strength of a community? The bond built on the basis of a common interest, of a shared passion. This is what keeps people united, what makes them communicate, what makes them want to share, help each other, collaborate.
And this strength has not escaped the most discerning brands, which have understood how much and how an online community can be beneficial for them.
The benefits of an online community
Why should a brand build, cultivate and manage an online community? The advantages are manifold:
- The people interested in that specific topic and gathered around the community are customers or potential customers for the brand;
- Communities help to retain customers;
- Customers communicate and help each other, for the benefit of the brand;
- The potential customers who come to the community to ask questions and advice, will rave about the positivity expressed by the community;
- Community fans become brand ambassadors, therefore active and selfless witnesses of the brand, free promoters and perceived as honest by the people who come into contact with them.
How to create an online community
What are the steps you need to follow to create an interested and active online community? Here they are.
1. What kind of community?
Start here, from analyzing your community and its nature. Will it be addressed within the company, therefore to managers, employees and collaborators with Documentary Video Production Company Dubai, or outside the company, therefore to customers and potential customers?
What is the target of your community? Analyze it carefully and build your Buyer Personas, the fictitious representations of ideal people who represent your possible interlocutors.
2. First the goal
Any action or strategy you want to take on the Web (and not only) you cannot do it effectively if you have not clearly and clearly defined your goal before. Which goal do you want to reach? Where do you want to go?
Remember, your community goal should also be SMART, which stands for:
- Specific, specific;
- Measurable, measurable concretely through parameters and numbers;
- Achievable, reachable, achievable;
- Realistic, realistic;
- Time-constrained, i.e. with a deadline, with a deadline date.
For example, your brand sells games for children. What can be the goal of your community? Identify, involve and retain parents interested in the well-being and health of their children.
3. Define the strategy
The construction, maintenance and development of an online community requires an adequate strategy, which depends on the nature of your community, on the objective you intend to achieve, on the people you need to involve and also on who is the brand around which such online community needs to be built.
At this stage, it is very important to establish the channels to be used for the development of the online community, which must be those most used by your target audience and those that you are sure you will monitor with constancy and attention.
Your strategy will have to establish the contents with which you intend to first attract people, then actively involve the community, and it will also have to define a precise timing for the different actions you will put in place.
In this phase you will also have to establish the metrics that you will analyze and evaluate to understand the health status of your online community and the effectiveness of your communication strategy.
4. Define and make public the policy
For a community to function properly and effectively, there must be rules of behavior to guide you. This is why it is very important that every member who accesses the community read and accept the policy you have written.
The policy is the set of rules of behavior that indicate to participants in the virtual community what they can do and also what they cannot do in the channels you manage. What does your brand accept and allow? What, instead, forbids and sanctions?
You will understand well, therefore, how fundamental it is that the policy of your online community is foresighted, well written and well detailed.
5. Meet your online community
A very often overlooked, yet so important, aspect is to physically and truly meet the members of your virtual community.
Real contact, the opportunity to look each other in the eye, to talk to each other, to share moments of fun and information together, is another knot to that bond that the community tightens around the brand.
6. Establish the team
A necessary step to build a healthy and long-lived community is to establish in advance the right team of people who will take care of community life and the management of online channels.
In general, these professionals should be: the Community Manager, the Content Manager, the Social Advertiser, the Analyst and the Graphic Designer or Designer.
In reality, in most cases, it is only one or maybe two professionals who deal with everything that gravitates around the life of an online community: establish the strategy, create the appropriate content, monitor conversations, listen and observe what happens, analyze the results.
When it is possible to entrust the construction and management of the online community to a team, it is appropriate to establish and organize the various roles and professionalism and it is very important that everyone collaborate and communicate with each other.
7. Create the right content
Building an online community is only possible if you build capable content first to attract interested people and then continue to engage them and keep this interest alive over time.
Content designed for your virtual community must activate people, encourage dialogue, questions, sharing, and the narration of personal experiences and make members who participate in the life of the brand feel important and special.
8. It all starts with listening
This is the basic principle of digital communication strategies and it is also when your goal is to build an online community. Listen to what people say (and don’t say) both within your community and outside, observe the behaviors, ask questions and study the answers.
This will allow you to understand what your customers (and your potential customers) want, what content will be interesting for members, which ones you will have to avoid sharing, you will understand what most satisfies people and what, instead, are the characteristics of the brand and / or the product or service you need to improve.
Building an online community: the conclusion
Strategy, but also care, dedication, listening, that’s what online communities need, because never forget that, although the meeting place is virtual, the protagonists of this meeting are real.
Talk to them, get excited with them, communicate and collaborate with them and you will build a healthy and solid online community.