Being part of an online community
We recently attended a great business event, three days in a capital city about 1000 kms from home. We arrived knowing only two people and left feeling part of a strong online community that we can interact with daily.
Being part of an effective helpful online community becomes very important to you when you are creating an online business from home. Becoming part of a business community, people who are striving for similar goals and who understand the work you are doing, is vital to help you avoid the loneliness and isolation of working alone.
This sort of community becomes your business support network. They become the people who answer your questions, or who you help by answering theirs. They become your extra eyes and ears, sharing the new books they have read or the new podcast or webinar that has taught them something. They can also become friends, and it is a great joy to meet them in person when you attend a live event. This sort of online community can be local or international, depending on the business you are in, but their support is real and can contribute significantly to the success of your business.
Creating a community online
You can also get great benefit by creating your own community online. Whatever your business the people who are interested in what you are doing can be encouraged to become part of your business community online.
As a business owner with an online presence a vital part of your job is to get eyeballs on your site, get those eyeballs to engage with your site, and ultimately to become raving customers. How can you do this?
There are many different strategies for driving traffic to your site and increasing customer retention. While you could spend large sums of money on advertising and marketing, there are other solutions available. Building your own website community is a great method of building loyalty and repeat traffic.
What’s an online community? Basically, a community is a group of regular visitors that frequently discuss topics and regularly interact with each other. Instead of just randomly commenting on blog posts, these visitors are actively engaged in what’s going on.
5 tips to build a strong community online
Here are some tips to help you begin to build an online community in order to boost customer retention and keep visitors coming back for more.
Create a Community on Your Website
The first step is to create a community on your website. This can be done by adding a forum to your site. If you use WordPress, this is relatively easy. You can create a sub-domain and install a forum theme on the sub-domain. For those without WordPress, there are many great forum templates that you can use.
You should build a forum that is relevant to the product or services that you carry. Promote the forum as you would any other website. Use proper SEO to help drive traffic to the forum. Include links from your main site to the forum and discuss your forum on social media.
Respond to Every Blog Comment
Along with creating a forum, you should respond to every blog comment on your blog posts. Again, if you’re using WordPress, this is easy. You choose to receive an email notification every time a new comment is left on your site. This also applies to your forum.
Every time someone leaves a comment, if it’s worthy of a response, then respond to the comment. Try to respond as quickly as possible. When a visitor sees that you actively respond to comments, they’re more likely to come back and leave other comments.
Create a Subscriber List
You can include an opt-in form on your forum for users that wish to register. In fact, you might want to think about requiring user subscription in order to post a comment on your forum. If you have quality content, users will want to subscribe.
Don’t bombard your subscribers with useless emails. You should keep this subscriber list separate from existing email lists. Have one list that is exclusively for your community subscribers. The emails that you send should be relevant to the forum and the community.
Integrate Social Media with Your Community
Combining the best of both worlds, you can integrate your social media business profile with your online community. How does this work? Through your business profile, create a social media community. Make this a mirror reflection of your online website community. Follow the same principles—responding to comments promptly and encouraging people to leave comments.
Create Exclusive Content for Your Community
Creating exclusive content that you only share with your community members will help increase loyalty. Your members will appreciate receiving content that’s not available elsewhere. Make sure the exclusive content is valuable and informative. You still need to focus on quality when creating this content.
Building a community can be a lot of work, but it’ll pay off in the end. You’ll find that you have a large number of regular visitors and steady traffic to your site. This can help you boost sales, increase customer retention, and compete with major players in your industry.
You don’t need to necessarily be at the top of the search engine rankings to remain competitive. Use these suggestions to begin building a community.