If you considering building an online community there are a few key elements you should take into consideration. Keeping in mind a community is two way interaction, unlike an audience which is one way – a community is socially active and look to share content with their friends and social circles at every chance.
With this in mind, I have put together a list of ten key practices I believe will help build a strong and successful community.
It’s been said plenty of times before, ‘content is king’. This has not changed over time and still remains one of the key components of any successful website and online community. It is your content that will continue to drive traffic to your website and bring people back. Try to make your content both unique and specific to your business or niche.
There is no point writing great content if your visitors cannot share it. Your content should be easily shareable on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn as a minimum by the visitors to your website. To assist with content being shared, use short, specific, catchy headlines where possible, to help readers understand the message and purpose in the article.
3. Social Media
Be social, at every opportunity. Sharing your content out onto your social media platforms will raise its visibility and also make it more likely to also be shared from within your social circles. Always link back to your articles and content in any status update that refers to content on your website.
4. Community engagement
When a visitor leaves a comment on your blog or social media status, they will expect to be replied to. Responding to these types of communication shows you care and makes your audience and community members feel important.
5. Give credit
When a member does something good within the community be sure to give credit. Community members like to be recognised for their efforts. This could be solving a problem for another community member or helping your business directly by sharing their experience or knowledge.
When a community member does something good be sure to spread the word within the community and socially. Be sure to give back to the community and genuinely thank them for their efforts.
7. Guest posts
Leverage the knowledge your community has gained and is willing to share. Be willing to ask for and request guest posts within your community or blog and be sure to provide guest posting guidelines to assist with content writing and the general tone of voice of your website.
8. Be unique, be yourself
No one else is like you, however your community members will most likely be part of other communities. They will therefore be looking for unique content and a reason to come back to your website and become part of your online community. Don’t be false, just be yourself and genuine at all times. Be transparent in your guidelines and open and honest about your business.
Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.
We know content is key, so to is the consistency of the content. That being, the frequency and regularity of your blog posts and content updates. Be active, respond to comments and be visible in your forum. Also, ensure your message and general tone of voice is consistent with the purpose of your site and community.
10. Give it time
Success takes time, so does building an audience and community. It takes time to build a communities trust and involvement. Let the community gain momentum and develop its member base. Provide great content and be engaging and involved and the community will develop.
These are just a few simple steps that you can start implementing today that are sure to help you develop and grow your online community and member base of your website. Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved in making it a success. At the same time, don’t undervalue the rewards and benefits of being part of a successful online community – the benefits are countless and you will be sure to get back more than you give.