3 Things to consider when building your online community

3 min read
January 20, 2022

A buzzing community offers an inclusive feeling for members. It's where long-term bonds over common interests are formed.

For businesses, they are necessary for added value, the birth of brand ambassadors, and customer retention. Vision Critical note that online communities have taken the world by storm in the past decade, with rough market valuation of nearly £1billion.

Are you in this market? Or, are you planning to be part of it?

If you said ‘yes’ to either question, you may want to consider these 3 fundamental points when building your online community:

  1. Customer Centricity

  2. Brand Leadership

  3. Targeted Engagement

In this article, we will take a closer look at these these.

Customer Centricity

Keeping close to your customers definitely matters for long-term business success.

With a branded online community, large amounts of customer feedback can be gathered, and member behaviour can be documented with data analytics.

Subsequently, businesses can be guided on the innovation and improvement of their own products and services.

To a certain extent, you are able to segment messages, content, discussions, or community members, on public social networks. But branded online communities uniquely allow for precise control over who sees what.

They offer greater intimacy between the customer and brand, allowing the latter to adopt a personable and authentic tone. In fact, Vanilla Forums found that 88% of branded communities stated a markable improvement in customer experience whilst within the community.

All in all, an exclusive online community can help make your communications more customer oriented and focused.

A study from The University of Michigan found that 77% companies believe an online community improves brand credibility. Why is this the case?

It’s due to the image of ‘brand leadership’. Customers need to know that they can trust your expertise, vision, and purpose. A branded online community involves greater control over community management capabilities, and structures. You choose the process! Some regard social media as a shortcut to this. They mainly offer 1 or 2 images that you can alter, with little other personalisation. Plus, social media algorithm updates can randomly alter the performance of community pages with no guarantee that your community members will see your content.

Hence, matching your community platform with your brand is a sure sign of professionalism and consistency. Targeted Engagement A Trust Insights study of 3,637 businesses found a steady decrease in Instagram engagement rates, since May 2019.

Instagram TV, and Stories, have been proposed as potential solutions.

According to HubSpot, a similar pattern is noticeable on Facebook, where paid adverts are in competition with organic content, for feed space.

As you are probably aware, there’s an overload of content on Facebook.

Both trends indicate a possible decline of user attention on these platforms, even with the presence of private chats and groups.

Online community software can provide more engagement opportunities. These include discussions, polls, surveys, idea submission spaces, content libraries, document folders, event forms, directories, blogs, and marketplaces.

If driving engagement requires meaningful focus to build relationships, how is focus possible on such a cluttered social media space?

An exclusive hub may give your customers the time and attention they desire.

And if they are willing to buckle in for a move over to a new app, you’ll be certain that they are truly enthusiastic about your brand. The Foundations of Community Building

We hope we’ve given you strategic insights into customer community building.

There are fundamental points to consider in this regard, and though social media has its advantages, it is important to understand the pros & cons and how these change as your brand and community grow.

Social media definitely be leveraged as a marketing channel, but building your community on it puts you at risk of lack of visibility, lack of brand presence and lack of engagement.

We will be covering how to build an engaging customer community in our upcoming How to Build a Membership or Online Community. Check out more information here.

Give Ugenie a try for free, for 30 days, if customer centricity, brand leadership, and targeted engagement are all important for your community. You may find it to be the tool you were secretly looking for!

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