The Five Key Ingredients for Nourishing a Healthy Online Community
As an online entrepreneur, you’ve likely considered a wide variety of different digital strategies to help propel your business forward and glean insight about your target market.
One of your most powerful assets, however, is one that you likely already have: your online community.
Learning how to nurture your online community so that it’s healthy and thriving is an invaluable asset that can help you minimize the time and effort you spend troubleshooting community-based problems, such as boosting engagement or minimizing attrition.
[clickToTweet tweet=”While every online community is as unique as its mission, we’ve identified five key components that will help you maintain a healthy, positive community and allow your business to reach its full potential.” quote=”While every online community is as unique as its mission, we’ve identified five key components that will help you maintain a healthy, positive community and allow your business to reach its full potential.” theme=”style5″]
1. IT’S BUILT AROUND SHARED PURPOSE OR MISSION
If you consider groups of any kind, you’ll notice that participants typically share a reason for belonging to them. Whether they want to show support for a social cause, endorse their favorite brand, meet people with similar interests or geek out over their favorite superhero, people tend to bond over commonalities.
For businesses looking to nurture a healthy community, clearly defining and remaining true to who you are, what you believe in, and what you stand for as a business is a foundational requirement – and standing by these values is one of your most powerful tools of attraction. They define your purpose and give your community something to stand behind.
This is how a tech company like Apple acquired such die-hard fans from an early stage. It stood firmly behind the ideas of innovation, simplicity and breaking the norm, and continued to build on that foundation.
2. IT PROMOTES CONVERSATION
Even though sales are the driving force of business, community-focused businesses understand that their success is a direct result of building good relationships. They encourage organic and genuine conversations with clients, and learn to listen more often than they speak.
Whether you hear good things or bad things, the true power of conversation lies in what you do with the information you gather.
If you welcome dialogue, ask for feedback, and aim to learn with every opportunity, your business will be better for it. You can use what you learn from these community conversations to improve client experiences, develop services that cater to the needs of your community and show its members that you really value them. The result? More fans, more word of mouth, and… more sales!
3. IT’S AN EXTENSION OF YOUR COMPANY AND ITS CULTURE
We see a lot of businesses make the mistake of researching what others are doing to create a successful community, and then trying to emulate it. The problem with this is that they end up projecting an image that isn’t theirs, while also setting up expectations they may not be able to meet.
Instead, a better approach is to observe and adapt your approach to who YOU are. Pick channels that naturally appeal to both your customer and yourself, share a message that you believe in, and focus on doing the things that feel authentic to your business. If you’re a serious person, stay serious online. If you like to crack jokes, let your sense of humor fly. You should treat your online community that same way you’d treat an offline, real-world community – with sincerity and your genuine self.
4. IT OFFERS VALUE
Our brains are wired to be attracted to things that reward us, so it should come as no surprise that the average person weighs every opportunity in terms of what’s in it for them. This includes joining your community.
People who perceive a tangible benefit to joining your tribe will do so without hesitation. Those who don’t will most likely pass. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to offer as much value as you can upfront. Luckily, value is relative and can take many forms: information, entertainment, connection, personal or professional growth, tangible goods, tools, a safe space, education and many more.
Before you set out to build your community, get clear on what value you offer – and provide it generously.
5. IT TRANSCENDS MEDIA
Community is both an emotional and social investment. Once you build up a strong connection, people tend to seek it out wherever it happens – social media, email, in-person meetups, wherever.
The benefit to you? Less worrying about the individual tools you use, and more freedom to connect in whatever way feels best.
It also opens up your marketing options. Now, you can start thinking of ways to bring the connections you make online to the offline world, and vice versa. This creates more opportunity for you and your community to connect and bond.