Building a small to medium business website is a massive task. However, figuring out how to build, grow, and maintain your online community is essential as well. Without one, businesses are simply shouting into a crowd. Every business needs to create an engaged community where it controls what people see to thrive these days.
An online community builder plan takes time to develop. Building an engaged community begins small with a few devoted fans. Then that group of fans expands slowly as more people are drawn to your content. For a small or medium business, those people often make an enormous difference in revenue.
Let’s talk about online community builders and how to achieve a thriving, engaged, online community.
It’s difficult to oversell how important email lists are to maintaining an online community. Emails are direct communications and have one of the best conversion rates of all digital marketing tools. While it’s not strictly on your website, the email list can grow an online community quickly.
One of the significant barriers to figuring out how to grow an online community is the forgetfulness factor. People tend to read something, maybe provide their email, and then promptly forget where they got the information. If you have their email address, you can avoid this.
Emails provide a direct link to potential customers. You can present them with feature updates, new blogs, and a plethora of information that tantalizes them back to your site repeatedly. It makes your business much less easy to forget and more memorable overall.
The trick with email is crafting a headline that sparks curiosity. This facet of maintaining an online community should not sound like spam. Instead, this headline should tie directly into the email content with a hook. Most often, that hook is a problem your potential customers need to solve.
Once people are hooked on the headline, the first couple lines should whet their appetites further. If you can do this, you can draw people from their email inbox onto your business website. That helps you build an engaged community since people are coming back.
Additionally, using a signature service like WiseStamp offers opportunities to engage your email subscribers on other platforms without overtly pushing them. This type of online community builder uses social icons, which people can use to follow you on another marketing channel. This safety net means you have more opportunities to grow and maintain your community.
Browser notifications serve a similar purpose to emails. If a customer provides permission for this tool, you can reach them when you want to. Then potential customers are one browser notification away from your site when you’re able to serve them again. Since many people have their web browsers open continuously, it’s a solid choice.
One of the principle uses for browser notifications in how you maintain an online community is driving them to newer blog posts. Once they’re on the website, they can engage with the content and help build the online community. The more they come back, the more invested they will become in following the blog.
The other useful feature of browser notifications is announcing new features. Customers who love and trust your business want to know when you add new features to the site, especially if it makes their life easier. Often these customers are assets for how you grow an online community and the fiercest advocates in your company’s favor to their friends.
Another excellent option for growing an online community is creating discourse. People enjoy having their opinions heard and validated. On your company’s actual website, this online community builder can occur in the comments sections. Otherwise, you will need your other marketing channels that you do not actually own.
Initially, you may need to borrow an audience. Doing this may not have the same conversion rate as an organic audience. Still, it’s a starting point for how to build an engaged community. The essence is that you use your content to start a discussion on another platform and invite people to be heard on yours.
Generally, this online community builder exercise requires you to hook the audience with the solution to their problems. For example, starting discourses around fishing bait would not be useful for a boutique. However, the debate would be an excellent way to build an engaged community for an outdoor sports store.
A significant part of building discourse is finding the right audience for your company. You may know this as your ideal client profile. Once you know where they hang out online, the process of growing an online community becomes easier. You can also tailor your company’s practices to the specific platforms better at that point.
While Facebook may have a lousy marketing rap, it is still a widely popular platform. It’s also diverse, so your ideal audience is probably on it. The trick is finding the Facebook groups they hang out in and then following the group rules while you draw them into your online community.
One of the great ways to engage with people is by asking their opinion, which you can do with a post or a poll. This online community builder process helps in two ways. One, you can use the answers as research, and two, you can provide relevant links to your website for each commenter. You can even offer the blog post you said you were researching once you’re done.
This form of sharing is a great way to grow an online community. People are more likely to check a link to something they helped create, and seeing it on your company website validates their opinions. That builds trust in your brand and will keep these individuals coming back to your company.
While Facebook groups are an excellent place to start, you can also find options for your small- to medium-size business elsewhere. Forums, other social media platforms, and doing the surveys on site are all fantastic options if that’s where you can draw an audience to grow your online community.
Learn from Other Companies
One of the big things, while you’re working to grow and maintain an engaged online community, is that you’re not doing this in isolation. Your company is one of many in your niche. If your initial approaches do not work, look at what the competition is doing. Then, make those ideas your own.
If possible, you should have a business mentor as well. Having a mentor can help you avoid many of the pitfalls in online community building as well as other aspects of how to run a business. Look for someone who is where you want your company to be, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
One of the big pieces of advice is often making sure your company website is set up to maintain an online community. Things like enabling comments on posts, easy to navigate web pages, and options to connect can significantly influence how your online community building goes. Otherwise, people have few to now spaces to engage with your company.
Figuring out how to grow and maintain an engaged online community is complicated. There are many options, and not all are suited for all businesses. You will need to choose an online community builder strategy and adjust it periodically to continue growing. Otherwise, your small- to medium-sized company’s online community will stagnate.
The big thing with creating a community is spreading the word. People cannot engage with a community they do not know exists. Whether your company’s method is taking polls, making the most of direct marketing channels, or stirring debates, that’s spreading the word just as much as passive plans like email footer icons.
This kind of work may be initially frustrating for your company. However, if you persist and use your tools, that will slowly change. Soon you will have the engaged online community you were hoping for. After all, a community starts with two.