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Four simple ways to engage an online community

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23rd Sep 2015
Freelance writer Freelance
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Are you creating an online L&D community in your business? Rebecca Faulkner outlines four quick tips to hit the ground running. 

Creating a buzz around your brand has to happen from the inside out. Gone are the days where it was enough to create a kick-ass product, sit back and watch it sell like hot cakes. Today’s customers want to buy into something bigger; they want to be drawn into a concept and they want to be a part of its future. 

An online community enables you to engage with your demographic, improve the digital journey and helps your customers to better understand your industry. Customers can feed back information on products and services, participate in product development and discuss ideas with like-minded people. All of which contributes to driving your business forward.

Here are five ways to engage an online community:

Employ a community manager

Once your community platform is up and running you’ll need a leader to manage and nurture it. The position could entail anything from welcoming new members to creating user tutorials and responding to enquiries.  

A community manager will be the beating heart of your community. They’ll be responsible for building, growing and managing the community. It’s a pivotal role that can make or break a brand so be sure to hire someone who knows their onions.

Offer incentives

You should treat your community like good friends who are doing you a favour. You wouldn’t let a neighbour paint your garden shed without offering something in return, the same should apply to your users. Recognise and reward the time your members have invested in your business by offering something in return.

Incentives could include high scores, prizes and community promotion in return for user engagement. 

Empower your users to communicate

Encourage members to talk by opening up discussion routes. If your demographic is interested in cookery create dedicated forum pages where your users can go to engage in real conversation. It’s important for members to build up a rapport with each other before they move on to more serious topics. This point follows on from the idea of treating your members as peers. 

Build up relationships via one-to-one communication, endorsement, content recommendations and quick enquiry response times.

Use insights to improve discussion and development

Use long tail keyword research to find out what terms your customers are searching for and use it as a jumping off point for discussions. Ask your customers relevant questions based on search queries and welcome honest criticism. Once you’ve gathered a significant amount of feedback, conduct reports based on the data and use it to fuel business development. 

Keep your community in the loop when you use their advice to evolve and enhance the business as this will give them a sense of self-worth and encourage continued input.

Standing on Giants provides online community services to a range of high profile clients. Offering expertise in everything from building software platforms to SEO, they can build your community brick by brick. 

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