How to Build Online Community
Over 93% of Internet users take part in some type of online community.
But just why are online communities such a draw for so many people?
• Online communities are much like a virtual café, bar, or other
gathering place for people to get together with people with similar
• Online communities are a great place to learn something new.
• Online communities are where people can be anonymous and
share their problems and fears.
• Online communities allow people to talk with people of the same
mind so that they can confirm their beliefs.
• Online communities allow people who are facing a hardship to feel
Online Community Defined: An online community can be accessed
anywhere at any time. Some of the components of an online community
include chatrooms, message boards, newsletters, event calendars, and
anything else that lets an Internet user interact with others who are
Why should you be concerned about online communities for your online
marketing strategy? Customers who take part in an online community
are a good target for your sales because they have a high affinity for
loyalty to your product when they are participating in an online
community. When you have a strong and solid online customer
community you know that you’ve built a loyal following for your
company and the products or services you sell. Your loyal customers
will spread news of your company through word of mouth and this will
further increase your sales.
Message Boards: It will be to your benefit to provide your customers
with a message board on your website. You can break your message
board up into categories for your different products or services and
encourage your customers to share their ideas and opinions with others.
This is the first step towards building an online community. Customers
will answer each others questions and this will save you some money on
the cost of customer care. You just need to make sure that you moderate
the message board on a regular basis so that your customers are getting
Message boards also give you some great feedback about the products or
services you’re selling. Honest feedback from customers lets you better
take care of their needs. You also get to learn a lot more about your
customers and what it is that they want from your business.
Message boards are an important part of your website and your online
community. You can develop a message board without spending a lot of
time and money. Begin by asking your website hosting company if they
can provide you with a message board template that you can include in
the hosting package. Otherwise look on the Internet for a message board
that is free. Choose a message board that fits the look and feel of your
website so that you’re maintaining consistency.
Message Board Content: A successful online community isn’t just a
common message board. The content on your website will play a big
part in the quality of your online community. The more professional your
website content is the better the quality of the message board. Always
keep in mind that it’s content that attracts readers and should be your
major concern when it comes to your decision to develop an online
You’ll find that fresh content ideas will start to flow when you have an
online community. You’ll know exactly what your customers are
looking for and just how you can provide that for them. Active message
boards are a cost efficient way for you to provide great customer service.
Message Board Calendar: Calendars are a vital part of the online
community because they allow people to meet offline. Even if your
company doesn’t have any offline events, a calendar will let you post
valuable industry information. For example, if your company sells
stationary you could list the dates when you’ll be attending trade fairs in
the search for new products for your customers. This type of information
lets customers know that your website and business content is ever
Contests: Contests are a great way to get customers excited about your
company and your website. Ask customers to share a story about how
your product or service has benefited them. When the contest is over you
can post these stories, along with the names of the winners, on your
website. This marketing technique provides you with customer
testimonials and is also a good way for you to see what your customers
are interested in.
Maintaining an Online Community: It can take a lot of work to maintain
your online community. You’ll need to invest a certain amount of time
and effort if you want the benefits of an online community to come your
way. Make sure that all of your staff is involved in the maintenance of
the community and that they know the importance of responding
immediately to posts from your customers. When your online
community is in its beginning stages you might have to plant some of
your own questions, answers, and comments to the message board. Once
traffic to your online community builds it will start to flow on its own
and will require less maintenance.
Other Online Communities and Ad Space: If you don’t think that you
have the time and manpower to maintain an online community you might
want to consider buying ad space on a community that is already
established and which has a high profile on the Internet. The online
community should have some connection with the types of products or
services that you’re selling