What are 5 Important Things in Community Relationships?

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Online Community

While it is true that the basis for your business is your brand, there’s another piece of the equation that is important: your audience. You must be able to connect with them in meaningful ways regularly. There are many different ways to do this: direct marketing, experience events, loyalty programs, and so much more. However, the focus of this article is building an online community for your brand. 

What is an Online Community? 

The term “online community” has a variety of definitions, but basically, it is a group of individuals that interact with one another online (social media, messaging, email, websites, etc.). 

This group of individuals has a set of shared values and common interests that have brought them together. But, of course, they have a purpose for coming together, and in this case, it will be to interact with your brand, each other and celebrate what your brand represents. 

Two Types of Online Community 

There are two types of online communities: 

  • Shared Social Community: a public platform that gives you little control over the data you can collect and the shared narrative. This includes sites like Facebook, Instagram, etc. However, though these are public domains, you can create private groups on Facebook if you want to use this platform but prefer a more closed community. 
  • Owned/Branded Community: this is a community that has been built by you and is usually hosted on your own website. Members must join the website to be part of the community. This type of online community provides you with more control over the data you collect and the narrative that is shared. 

Most small businesses use shared social communities because building an owned/branded community requires a financial investment and time/effort. However, a shared social community doesn’t require that much to start with. 

Why Create an Online Community? 

Why should you bother creating an online community? What are the crucial things in a community relationship? We will explore those below:

Building relationships 

An online community is about more than just customer support. These are real people that are making real connections- with you and with each other. This is an excellent way for brands to make a personal connection with their customers to create trust, which, in turn, creates loyalty. 

You must avoid getting hung up on the platform/tools you are using to build your community, as these are simply a means to bring you together with your customers. If you’ve researched the habits of your target audience, you should be able to quickly determine the best place to house and run your platform. 

In order to have a thriving online community, you should employ a multi-channel approach. For example, your customers are not just on Facebook. They’re probably on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and more. Therefore, you need to create a strategy based on their behaviors to cast the widest net. In addition, you should make sure that your system is built around those you want to connect with. 

Listening 

As long as you are doing it right, you’re listening as much- if not more than- you are sharing with your online community. This is one of the best ways to get feedback/insight from the public about what you are doing. 

In fact, in most cases, an online community will provide you with instant feedback. When you tap into their needs, what bothers them about your brand/product, and what they are interested in, you can adjust your business strategy. 

Of course, while listening is critical, it’s also essential that you take action on the information you collect in a positive, timely manner. Avoid telling your customers that they are wrong- that probably won’t go very well. However, if you consider what they are saying and implement some of their suggestions that make sense, they begin to feel like you value them- which improves their overall opinion of you. 

Empower Customers 

Your customers have the potential to be one of your most important assets when it comes to your marketing strategy. If you engage them and make them feel like you value their opinions, they feel like they have input in what happens with your brand. 

When a customer feels valued and empowered, they are more likely to tell your story and convince others to give you a try. By empowering your customers, you create brand ambassadors that will speak positively about you when they get the opportunity. 

Opportunities for Business Growth 

An active online community generates buzz about your brand. This provides you with chances to engage with potential customers. In addition, when you post engaging content that links back to your website, you are also driving new traffic to your site- which can equal new customers. 

Competitive Advantage

By creating an online community, you are establishing that you are different from your competitors. This allows you to focus on the perceived value you provide for your customers. Therefore, you must take the time to analyze how you are different from the competition and then use that to make yourself valuable to your customer. 

Conclusion 

You should be aware that building an online community takes effort. It’s not going just to make itself. As the brand, you must look for ways to create new, engaging content that sparks positive experiences and discussion surrounding your brand. However, though it does take effort, it’s worth it because the average ROI on an online community is more than 6,000%. Visit Viafoura, a leader in community engagement software, to learn more about effectively building your online community.

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