How to Start a Successful Online Community in 5 Steps
4 minute read
Published on January 18, 2016
Starting an online community is something that has the potential to skyrocket your corporation or business by bringing together your clientele or followers. However, for many, it is also a daunting project.
Not to worry, in these 5 easy steps we will share how you can start an online community and get it off the ground in no time.
1. Appealing to User Self-Interests
Do not make the mistake of focusing on yourself or your business too much. Members who are there for their own reasons are what drives a successful online community. Create a community environment that caters to your users’ self-interests.
A great way to cater to your users’ interests is to crowd source.
- Use the power of the collective to provide insight, share ideas and solve issues.
- Proactively invite your customer base to weigh in on important issues that your company has been struggling with and see what solutions they have to offer.
2. Sustaining Momentum
An online community without much activity will die quickly.
- Consider how you might recruit more members or guarantee more of their time.
- Plan the first couple of weeks of community activity to ensure that activity is consistent and steadily increases.
One of the most highly recommended methods is to develop a champion program, or a program that rewards expert contributors for their contributions to the community.
- Add some leaderboards, gratification features and showcase the most valuable members.
- You may even consider including reputation data to show other members how trustworthy and credible comments are.
You may also be interested in:
- How to Keep a Forum Extremely Active—Engagement Tips from 5 Pros
- How to Keep Your Online Community Active [VIDEO]
- 5 Ways to Keep Your Online Community Active [SLIDESHARE]
3. Developing a Group of Core Members
One of the most important tasks you will face is developing a group of core members to start your online community off. You may contact a few long time, loyal clients or send out an email newsletter to your mailing list.
If you ensure that the community embodies something that they are invested in, then by the time you launch you will already have a dedicated group of members who cannot wait to begin using it. It also helps to involve company employees and reward customers for their contributions.
You may also be interested in reading:
- How I Built an Online Community From 0 to 1500+ Members | Moz
- How to Grow and Manage an Engaged Online Community | Social Media Examiner
4. Getting Members to Keep Returning
It is easier than not to get a member to visit one time. However, it is much harder to get them to visit a 2nd time or even more. What could you ask them to do on the first visit that would ensure they return?
- Ensure that you have provided relevant and compelling content, and made the community easy to find.
- Ensure that the community contributes to the overall customer experience, as well as keeping content fresh and interesting.
- In addition, you should offer a warm welcome and exclusive content offers.
5. Timed Release of Website Elements
With a new online community website, you may have to resist the urge to have the website completely built before opening the doors. In fact, the timed release of certain website elements could be very beneficial.
If you have a community website with many unused features, it could make your website look quiet. Holding back certain elements of your website will help to keep activity concentrated in certain areas and create a more active-looking website.
If you’re looking for inspiration, you may like:
- Top-Tier Community Websites for Design Inspiration
- Community Sites 2015 | The Webby Awards
- The 7 Key Features of an Online Community
Following these 5 steps will help you create a successful and active online community website. However, it is important to bear in mind that ‘Rome was not built in a day.’
By timing the release of certain website elements and ensuring that a systematic formula is followed, you can guarantee a successful online community is created.