Building an online community is an important way to build your business online. Online communities usually consist of an information area, members’ area with a message board, perhaps a chat room, and then some members only resources like a membership directory, checklists, white papers, eBooks and more.
* Determine What Technology You Will Use – One of the most important aspects of starting an online community is choosing which technology you will use to build it. There are many options to choose from. Base your choice on your technical knowledge, your budget, and what features you want the community to offer.
* Choose the Niche You’ll Focus On – It’s best if the online community you build is based on one target audience and not too widespread. Just like you focus on a niche with your business, focus on the same niche with the community.
* Create Content Specifically for the Community – Once you have a community it’s important that you create content specifically for that community on a regular basis. Consistency is the key to ensuring that you attract new members and keep the old members satisfied and interested.
* Invite New People on a Regular Basis – You want to have regular new members showing up because it keeps the group fresh and brings in new questions, thoughts, and conversation.
* Connect Your Community to Social Media – Social media is the best way to market your online community. You can even start with an online community first on Facebook with Facebook Groups.
* Be Engaging and Caring to Your Members – Your personality will show through if you participate on a regular basis in discussions with the community. Let them see how caring you are.
* Make It Easy for Others to Promote the Community – Start a referral club or an affiliate program that enables your community members to promote the group to others. Reward them for bringing in new members.
* Interview Members on a Regular Basis – A great way to add content to the community is to choose a special member each month to highlight and interview. You can do these interviews in podcast form and put them on iTunes as well, for another way to promote your community.
* Interview Experts in Your Niche – A great benefit for your community is to be able to learn from movers, shakers and other experts within your niche.
* Promote Members of the Community – Once in a while allow the members of the group to promote their offers by having a something like a yearly fire sale that enables them to benefit from the entire community sharing.
* Keep the Conversation Going – Don’t let the community die down. Keep the conversation going; ask for volunteers to monitor the group and to contribute to the content and discussion.
Building an online community can help you create an entire community of raving fans that are not only ready to purchase your current products but who will also stand in line to purchase your new products. They’ll also promote you to their friends, family and associates. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your audience better and to improve product development.