3 Ways to Get the Most Out of an Online Community
3 minute read
Published on January 25, 2016
Many organizations have found that integrating their business with an online community can drive interest in their content and products.
Whether the community in question exists in a public space, such as through social media, or in a more private setting operated by the organization, here are three tips to getting the most out of online communities.
1. Participate in the Community
Some companies might create an online presence through an avenue like a Facebook page or other public space without taking the time to participate.
Few behaviors make an organization seem more tone-deaf than creating a means for feedback and then completely ignoring it.
Instead, find ways to interact with the community. Community members are more likely to interact with each other if they see their feedback being responded to.
Like in offline communities, online communities necessitate the building of trust between a company and its customers.
Within a community, if participants can see an earnest effort on the part of the organization to interface with them, a relationship of trust is established, proliferating brand loyalty.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Feedback
More than simply interacting with the community, make sure to let them know that their opinions are being heard and are reflected in the thought process of the organization.
Some feedback may be negative, and that’s okay.
Organizations are often judged not by the feedback they receive, but how they respond to that feedback.
A company that lashes out or attempts to silence negative commentary in a public space is setting themself up for a wholly negative public image.
Additionally, studies show that feedback can be useful for business.
Many companies take product ideas or recommendations directly from the suggestions found within online communities. Think of it as a very large focus group.
3. Find Ways to Grow the Community
Like focus groups, online communities are more effective as they increase their numbers and diversity.
The higher the number of people participating in a community, the more viewpoints a company can capture as feedback. In terms of driving traffic, a growing online community equals a growing number of people who are aware of an organization’s content.
To grow an online community, it takes a widespread marketing approach.
Advertising the company and the community on various forms of social media and highly trafficked blogs and websites assures that a specific community will gain traction in the public sphere.
Of course, there are more methods of getting the most benefit out of an online community as a business or organization; these tips are simply the building blocks of a successful and collective virtual presence.
To capitalize on the cultivation of an online community for you and your business or organization, be sure to build a relationship with the community’s user base, encourage and respond to feedback and continue to find creative ways to generate continuous growth in your community.