Businesses have embraced online communities as a means of communicating with their customers—and for good reason. An online community offers unmatched opportunities for customers, prospects, advocates, and fans to support and engage in conversation about their favorite brands in a brand-safe environment.
Yet building a successful online community isn't as easy as it might seem. A thriving community requires defined goals and a clear strategy if it is to consistently attract and engage participants. Below are five tips to help you build an online community.
1. Determine your goal
Determining your goal seems obvious, right? But, in fact, many companies think about their goals for an online community in very broad terms when they should, instead, have in mind more specific objectives.
Here are a few questions to consider before committing to an online community:
- What are your current and future business goals?
- How does an online community meet those needs, and what purpose does it serve?
- How will you integrate an online community into your broader marketing plan?
- Who are you looking to attract to your online community, and is it the right forum for engaging with them?
- Are you looking to monitor conversations about your brand or actively participate in them?
- Do you want to monetize your community and content? What monetization model is appropriate and relevant to your business and your customers?
- Do you plan to develop multimedia or to host user-generated videos?
- What communication tools are appropriate for your audience? Will users be more comfortable with text or media-based communication?
Answering those questions will help guide your campaign and help you determine which tools to use, what you'll consider a success, and how you'll measure return on investment (ROI).
2. Identify metrics
By what metrics will you measure success and ROI? That is another often-overlooked element of social-media campaigns. If you haven't defined success metrics for your community, how will you know if it's working?