Encouraging Interaction and a Sense of Community – 6 Essentials
The Internet gives businesses many ways to connect with customers. It’s possible to build a sense of community online with your fans, customers, clients, business partners, or anyone else with similar interests. All of this networking gets you more exposure, builds your brand, and best of all makes your audience feel closer to you.
Whether you’re building a community through Pinterest Community Boards, LinkedIn or Facebook Groups, or your own blog, a few of the same essentials apply.
1. Focus on Helping
People use online forums and social media groups to find the help they need for their problems. The best communities:
• Answer questions
• Teach their members how to do things
• Give feedback
• Offer support and encouragement
Sometimes a community fills an emotional need or just tells people that they’re doing a great job. Make your online community this kind of place.
2. Be Responsive
Check in often and reply to comments, messages and posts, even if it’s just to say ‘thank you.’ The more responsive and friendly you are to your members, the more they’ll feel like participating. Let people know that you’re there and approachable.
3. Be Real
Be yourself and let your personality come through. Too many marketers try to appeal to everyone and end up creating a bland persona that’s not only fake but also boring. On the other hand, people respond to your personality and quirks. When people get to know you, they feel a stronger bond. Your members will spend time in the community simply because they like you.
4. Give Them Something to Do
Give your members something to do in the community. Start discussions and ask for opinions. Hold contests, polls and surveys. Carry out collaborative projects where they get to create the content with you. All of this gives them reasons to spend time in the community. It also gives members the sense that the community belongs to them.
5. Connect with Others
It’s not enough to just create your community and expect engagement. You have to get out there and get involved in other communities as well. Read and comment on other blogs; subscribe to video channels; join social media groups. This networking will raise awareness of your community and strengthen bonds. You’ll also have a chance to connect with your community members in other places.
6. Seek Feedback
Periodically ask your community members for feedback. For example, how can you make the forum a better or more helpful place for them? The community belongs to them as much as it belongs to you, so help them make it how they want it.
It’s easy to start a community online, but it takes a great deal of time to build real interaction. Make it a daily task on your to-do list. Check in and see what’s going on. It’s consistent contact with give-and-take that builds a community.