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How to build a branded online community?

In case you don’t know yet, your brand needs a community around it. Community building is the process of converting your customers into dedicated community members. Studies have found that a reliable community building platform can increase a brand’s ROI by leaps and bounds. Communities formed by organizations are different from common communities. They are more organized, centralized, and comprise a specific kind of audience. Communities are formed by people that have a shared interest or goal. All the social media sites are examples of huge generalized communities. For a brand, having a community has numerous benefits. It helps you gather your customers, employees, and stakeholders at one place. You can acquire quick feedback from communities. You can improve your products (or services) in the initial stage itself. Your customer support charges reduce.

Now that we know that it’s crucial to have a community, let’s see how to build one:

Choose the right platform

Community building platforms used to build communities are usually classified into two categories- free community platforms and paid community platforms. Depending on your budget, you can choose either of them. Free community platforms are enough for brands just starting out (say with 100 or so followers). But they will not make a huge difference. As your popularity grows, you should consider investing in a paid community building platform. A free community can either be created on a social media platform, or on a brand-owned website where anyone can log in to join the community.

The paid community platforms come with an added advantage. They will provide assurance. Many famous platforms like Crowdstack and Mighty Networks offer premium plans that are exclusively designed to expand your community. You can customize them to replicate your favourite social media site. They help in increasing engagement, and so on,

Give your audience a purpose to join

You need to know the answer to why your target audience joins your community. Will they find something valuable, something unique? Let’s take an example. Suppose you are a wine merchant. Your audience could be interested in knowing the process of creating and nurturing wine. Now when you observe your competitors, you see that they are not talking about that. Or even if they are, they’re not doing it properly. This can become your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This gives your audience a purpose to join your community.

The second thing is the audience should be able to form real-life connections within the community. Make sure your community building is so strong that people consider your community as one big family. Communities are meant to enhance human interactions. This is because the more well-connected people are in the community, the more information they will exchange. Information that comes from first-hand experience, that is hard to find on Google. This exchange of valuable information is vital for the growth of your brand.

Elect an able Community Manager

To handle your community, you will need a community manager. Preferably, you should choose someone having prior experience in community management. He must know how to use the community building platform properly. He can further create management teams to control various aspects of the community. Each department should be assigned a different role for smooth working. It should be made clear which department will be responsible for responding to customer complaints, which for product innovation, and which for creating content, etc.

Community managers manage all activities in the community minutely. Since they work so closely with your customers and stakeholders, it is important that you select a person not only accomplished in hard skills but in soft skills as well.

Create some rules and regulations

After successful community building, you need to start setting up some rules and regulations. Rules are important to ensure a hassle-free experience for both you and your community members. Although the community members are the building blocks of your community, they should not take undue advantage of this fact. Let them know that anybody caught in an inappropriate act (for instance, indulging in verbal abuse or endorsing his own products) will be removed from the community.

Advertise your community all over the internet

Once your community is set and running, you need to take it to the next level. Don’t stop advertising until you have a community large enough to support your business.

Promote it on social media: We all know how powerful social media has emerged to be. People from every age group, profession, economic sect, are present on social media. It is the best place to promote your community. You can collaborate with influencers or creators. You can create paid advertisements.

Set referral rewards: The next easiest way to promote your community is by rewarding the existing community members for each referral.

Creating an online brand community can be overwhelming. Try not to do everything alone. Make sure to delegate work to ensure peace of mind.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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