nline communities are more crucial now than ever before. A community brings together people of shared interests/goals. It unites them and creates a strong sense of belongingness. Community members learn and grow together, connect, engage, and get the required support. They share their experiences, voice their opinions, and contribute towards a common goal.
For brands, this means that communities offer great potential for enhanced business value. An online community helps brands achieve their goals by acquiring new customers, increasing sales, and reducing support costs, ensuring a good ROI. Therefore, most brands today strive to build a strong online community and create a positive and long-lasting relationship with them.
However, the community is as much about giving as about taking. And as a community manager, you need to strike that delicate balance. When you create an online community that provides what your customer is seeking, then it creates an ecosystem where both parties find new opportunities and win-win situations.
Developing a new community from scratch seems like a task, but with chronological steps and a clear vision, a successful launch will be far more comfortable than you ever anticipated. Check out the step by step guide, to know more.
Step 1: Defining Goals
Communities are formed when people of similar interests or goals come together. These can be a profession, interest, game, hobby, product, social cause, or some activity. You need to find common ground that interests a lot of people to ensure that there is enough opportunity for your community to grow and build in its own space.
The topic should be unique to your community; otherwise, you might find it challenging to compete with the pre-existing communities with a common audience set. Do some market research to understand the feasibility of your idea. Thus, it is essential to find a subject that identifies both the people and the opportunity to enlarge over a long period.
Step 2: Finding the Online Community Platform
After identifying the common interest, the next step is to select a technology platform to set up your community. A platform is an online space where members can easily interact with one another and hold open discussions about their shared interests, goals, or beliefs.
Select a platform based on how big you want the community to be. Also, you should have a platform that gives you visibility and all the features that you might need for your community. For example, if you need your community to interact with its members, you should find a partner that allows you to do so.
Most commonly used platforms to build communities are:
- Discussion oriented communities: Social Media Groups (Reddit, Facebook or LinkedIn)
- Chat-based communities: Slack, Telegram or WhatsApp
- Communities build around Interactions, Events or Meetups: Airmeet or Uberconference,
Step 3: Create Policies, Guidelines, Terms, and Conditions
To avoid conflict of any kind, develop and enforce strong and clear community rules. The terms and conditions act as a governing document for the whole community, and every member of the online community must acknowledge and obey these rules and rights. It ensures that there are no spams, misinterpretations, and disrespectful content.
Step 4: Create a Content Strategy
When formulating your content strategy, keep the right balance between your target audience’s needs and goals. Also, strike the right balance between user-generated and traditional content.
It usually takes time for a community to be on its feet and for the crowd to feel generous about the content. Remedially, you should keep content for at least four months ready beforehand.
Step 5: Recognizing Stakeholders
The stakeholders, the managing committee, and the management can affect and be affected positively or negatively by your community. They will help you improve the project’s quality and efficiency by providing vital information and extra resources.
After they are identified, classify your stakeholders in different areas, by giving each group the right level of information, rights, and permissions. Then closely monitor their responses and move forward based on that.
Step 6: Beta Testing
Before you introduce your community to a vast audience, first keep it private with a handful of people, maybe a core team that will provide the insights, suggestions, and issues faced.
This way, you get an abstract idea of how your community will work and how you need to manage it. After you have worked on their feedback, you’ll be prepared to introduce yourselves to the more significant assemblage.
“When your online community provides what members seek, to learn, connect, and express, then it creates an ecosystem where both sides find favourable opportunities — a win-win situation.”
Step 7: Getting Ready For Launch
Now, you are ready. You have a fully functional platform, engaging purpose, stakeholders, and visionary goal. However, before launching your community to a broader audience, make sure that you have the layout, the content, your core team to engage new members so that the community springs up that first big impression.
The launch is crucial as this lays the foundation for the community to build. You may hold back certain vital features of the community and add them as it grows so that the community stays exciting and focused in the long run.
Once you have been successful with the soft launch, promote the community’s launch online with emails, websites, and other social media platforms.
We wish you a Very Happy Community!