These days, it isn’t hard to set up an online community. You can simply use software like DNN and have it ready extremely fast. However, building an online community is the real challenge and the point at which your community with either thrive or flounder. This article will focus on ways you can get your users and customers to engage with each other in your community to encourage long-term growth and sustainability.
Spend Resources on Design
Compared to the past, you can build an online community for a fairly small investment. This however does not give you license to push out a low quality product. When platforms all become similar, consumers will stick with the most user-friendly communities. Always keep the customer’s needs in mind when you are making design choices in the preliminary stage. A high quality community is a lot easier to attract users to and get them to engage.
Have Multiple Access Points
Some customers prefer to use one site or another when they look to interact with a company. This means that if you only have one type of online community, like an intranet that gives customers access to engage employees, you will only have a fraction of what your total online presence could be.
To effectively build an online community you need to incorporate social tools to allow your customers to connect with you and each other on your company’s e-commerce website when they need customer support. The bottom line is that you need to consider that the easiest way for customers to engage will depend on their personal preferences, so give them a few options.
Promote Your Community
Building an online community from nothing takes a lot of work and effort. If you create a community you must actively promote that community, especially at the beginning. Showcase it on your website, blogs and on the traditional social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. An email marketing campaign to your customers and users is another way that you can make people aware of your community.
Nurture Your Online Community
Finally, if you wish to have long-term success after the initial promotion and growth, you need to keep investing time and effort. Communities naturally have a rate of degradation, and if you aren’t spending time keeping the quality of the community and users high by moderating content and promoting sufficiently, the rate of growth will stagnate or decline. When this happens, the quality of the community will also decline as a whole and all the hard work you put in at the beginning could be put to waste. Always remember that an online community is never finished. Just as your users need to engage with each other, your business must also engage with your users to make the community thrive.
Photo credit: niallkennedy
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