One of the ways to increase sales, spread brand awareness, and develop new ideas for products and services is to offer your audience an online community to become part of. By making yourself available to a community online, you can find out in advance what types of things your audience needs to solve their problems. Online communities will literally put you on the cutting edge with your community.
1. Facebook Groups This is a great entry level, free way to start an online community. Start your community here and then invite them to more excusive paid memberships for an upgraded next level of community.
Link – http://www.facebookgroups.com/
2. AMember This software enables you to set up members only communities, subscriptions, secure shopping carts, and more for your niche community. People like feeling protected from others and this is a safe way to start a private community.
Link – http://www.amember.com/
3. AWeber It might seem odd for this to be included in community building but if you think about it, it makes complete sense. You need a way to communicate with a lot of people at once and AWeber is one of the best autoresponder services available for the money. You can send newsletters, email blasts and other information to members who sign up to get information.
Link – http://www.aweber.com/
4. vBulletin This is forum software that offers either a self-hosted version or a cloud version, so that you can have a powerful and easy to run message board or forum for your audience to congregate and discuss issues in a members only setting.
Link – http://www.vbulletin.com/
5. WordPress You can build a membership website using WordPress and some plugins like Paid Memberships Pro, or bulletin boards like bbPress, among others. While these are relatively simple, you may need some professional assistance ensuring security and the right server capacity.
WordPress – http://www.wordpress.org/
Paid Memberships Pro – https://wordpress.org/plugins/paid-memberships-pro/
bbPress – https://wordpress.org/plugins/bbpress/
6. Hoop.la This is an all-in-one online solution for your online community. One really good thing about this is that its a hosted system that you own. However, it can be pricy for this full-featured online community software solution.
Link – http://www.hoop.la/
7. NationBuilder This is an online community builder that is fully featured; you can charge a membership fee, email members, and more through one dashboard. This can act as your entire website without the need to integrate a lot of other software.
Link – http://nationbuilder.com/
8. SocialGO This cloud-based community building software has the ability to create a forum and even charge for the membership to the group. It is full featured and reasonably priced.
Link – http://www.socialgo.com/
Building an online community is a great way to build relationships that will translate into referrals, true supporters and fans that will help you expand your business and keep your business running through the test of time.