How to build community? | Your Go-To Guide To Online Community Building
Content creators, start-ups, and entrepreneurs are actively harnessing the power of online communities for better reach and increased ROI. That means, if you wish to make a mark in the digital world, you better start creating your own community online. And, here is the right guide for you on how to build a community online.
This post is well-suited for the ones looking for a to-the-point yet comprehensive guide to online community building. Please note that it will focus primarily on communities based on dedicated community platforms.
In this guide, you will learn about the integral aspect of creating a community online along with a vital process.
Getting started with a clear and complete idea of what an online community is.
In essence, a group of people connecting together with a shared agenda on an online community platform make an online community.
It’s a core group with members collaborating and that creates value for all community members. However, the level of value generated by a certain community depends on several factors such as engagement, number of members, content, and kind of community platforms.
Online communities harbor lead generation, brand education, learning through courses, mentoring, networking, opportunities, and feedback, sharing of ideas. From that potentially follows earning, meaningful connections, growth, and money for each stakeholder or community member.
These community members form a closely-knitted network that is managed and led by an individual or an organization. That particular individual or team has the main resourceful role and keeps the community going efficiently.
Usually, there is a designated community manager. Every community has a set rule of norms and policies that all members need to follow.
Up next, the type of online community matters a lot. Because, it can directly affect your goals, community’s function, content, KPIs, and even scale-up strategies.
Very quickly, let us learn about the types of a community.
Knowing what type of online community your business or personal venture demands is crucial. That will ultimately set the tone for your community will function.
Primarily, there are two types of online-based communities. Have a look below:
A learning community is a shared space for members with particular learning goals. It brings together instructors and students on one platform.
A learning community makes room for interactive learning, peer-to-peer discussions, coursework production, social learning, and cohort-based learning. Instructors can easily share resources of their own and even make communities of their own.
Boss Mom is a great example of a learning community for entrepreneurial moms.
Brand or branded communities enable businesses to directly and more actively with customers. A brand community brings entrepreneurs, employees, and customers into one place. That way, each stakeholder in the brand community functions to complement the brand. Quick fact, 85% of marketers believe brand communities enhance trust and customer journey.
Companies use brand communities for product testing, product feedback, product innovation, and brand engagement. Plus, such communities for great for customer retention and customer acquisition for attracting new community members.
Online communities require an online platform to function and manage group members. The role of the platform is crucial. So, what kind of platforms are available out there.
Generally, there are two sorts of community platforms.
- Free Platforms
- Dedicated Community Building Platforms
These kinds of platforms are not solely dedicated to creating community. They are open for all to access. Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook are good examples of free platforms because they offer basic community features. For instance, a Facebook group acts can act as a community platform.
But, you do not have much control over free platforms as you do not own the platform. Plus, your success and strategy are totally dependent on ever-changing algorithms. Lastly, there is very limited scope for earning through free platforms.
Slack and Facebook remain the top choice of organizations when it comes to free platforms for community management. Other examples of free platforms include Quora, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
These platforms are exclusively for building a community and management. This kind of software provides a virtual space that is equipped with community-focused tools and features. Such platforms offer better control to the leader and an opportunity for monetization. Some of the most successful communities are based on dedicated community platforms.
Community platforms are usually paid. But, there are free community platforms as well. However, free plans or platforms usually provide very limited value. Investing in a good community platform is totally worth it.
Some great examples of community platforms are GroupApp, Thinkific, Discord, and Tribe.
Well, it’s about which kind of community platform coordinates with your goals and needs better.
Your goals for growth and monetization are limited. Such platforms are free to access, which is great and there is less need for monitoring at your end. However, they are less regulated, offer no ownership to the leader, and lack control.
You are thinking long-term. Such platforms are only designed to cater to a community’s needs. This community-focused approach brings the right tools and setup for data ownership, security, engagement, learning mechanisms, and content management. However, these platforms are usually paid.
Most importantly, these platforms give a true sense of ownership to the leader and all members. Lastly, such platforms offer great earning potential for the leader.
Quick fact: 65% of Gen Z prefer apps/platforms that are community focused.
Let us talk more benefits of a dedicated community platform.
It makes room for customer growth, problem-solving, and investment.
Ideal for boosting SEO as search engines prefer unique content that is user-generated. This ultimately enhances lead generation. In fact, such community platforms have led to a massive SEO boost for 57% of the brand communities. Moreover, such platforms are much immune to frequent algorithm changes.
You get significantly better engagement among your community members which is focused and has zero distractions, unlike social media. In fact, 36% of community platform users felt they had more meaningful conversations as compared to free platforms.
Such platforms provide high data security and exclusivity for your community.
Community platforms offer advanced analytics tools that allow you to forecast growth with KPIs. Plus, such platforms come up with useful API integrations.
Now, we are going to talk about an integral aspect of online community building that is usually not talked about much. But, it remains a significant factor in building a thriving community.
The process of building community online involves several steps. It is an interplay of decision-making, choices, and strategies. However, there is one choice that can make all the difference, and honestly, the quality of this choice can make a profitable and strong community.
What do you think that is?
A dedicated community platform is the foundation of modern-day online communities. Essentially, a community app or platform is your launchpad in the digital world. It houses your entire community with its media, data, and resources.
Simply because your goals for growth and monetization will be directly determined by your playfield or scope. In this case, the playfield or scope means the platform software you are using for your community. Ultimately, it will affect your expectations and community members as well. Not every platform out there is suitable for you.
In essence, you need a platform that aligns with your budget, needs, long-term goals, and community function.
It’s time to get into action!
Beginning right away with the key steps on how to build community that thrives.
It’s highly recommended to first choose a community platform. Why? Because it will educate and guide you to take steps further. You will learn about the possibilities for growth and earning potential by experiencing the platform. It will also give you a good understanding of how you can enhance your community.
Now, there are several community platforms out there. But, how to pick the right one?
Study the platform in light of the 7 points stated below. A good idea would be to rate each out of 5.
- Affordable yet not limited in any manner (Most Important!)
- Capacity for Customization.
- A user-friendly, attractive, and sophisticated interface.
- Enables healthy earning, growth, and engagement with an ability to scale up
- Offers advanced tools and API integrations.
- Has a customer and community-centric approach.
- Allows you to present your work in the best possible manner
Make sure to choose the one that scores well based on the seven points above.
Let us save you precious time, and give you a viable option, the GroupApp.
GroupApp Here! – It’s Affordable, Scalable, & Viable
GroupApp stands as one of the most viable community platforms today. It is well-suited for any kind of community. It powers 575+ communities.
It can give you a solid starting point for your community that yields growing financial success.
Just like it helped the Founders of WeathNation to go from $11,000 to a whopping $100,000 a year after they switched to GroupApp from Patreon. Check out the whole story here.
So, now the ball is in your court if you aim to achieve a good ROI. Why not try GroupApp and move ahead?
Pick your GroupApp plan right here. Start with the FREE plan to experience it yourself.
Goals matter! That’s why you need to have a clear idea of what you are aiming for. Start by having a perspective. Your goals can be broader and even aim for specific milestones. Your community platform must correspond to your goals and help you attain them.
Let us consider an example. Tanya the founder of a thriving community at GroupApp had a goal in mind. It was to create a highly engaged and profitable community through active weekly live streaming. And, she achieved it through GroupApp’s live stream feature.
Check out Tanya’s community at GroupApp: Stream Like A Boss
You need to make sure your goals function on KPIs. You will need to set KPIs for your community. Remember they should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).
If you are unclear about your goals, it’s okay. Start with a basic one. In fact, if you choose GroupApp, it will assist you to define your goals to a good extent during its onboarding process.
This is the whole point of making a community! You need to be aware of what group of people you cater to. You can think about some factors like age group, income level, interests, values, and lifestyle. Making a customer persona is a great idea, to begin with.
You can also begin with your existing followers or community members if any. Focusing on passion and hobbies is a great idea. In a survey, 50% of the respondents said that they are willing to join communities that align with their passion.
Just one thing. Please know it is an ongoing process. Lastly, make sure to have a number in mind.
GroupApp will ask you about an estimated audience count. That helps in providing a well-tailored space.
It’s recommended to have a designated team or person to manage your community. In case you are available, your team can manage all the interactions and operations. Many established communities have a community manager.
Around 89% of the communities have a qualified community manager. Some also have a team that includes content creators, tech support, and customer support.
One Thing: If you are just starting out and do not have a budget for that, it’s all good. You can manage on your own as you gradually grow.
Here comes a critical area from where the money comes in!
You will be generating a major chunk of your community revenue from memberships. That’s why you need to have well-thought pricing for your content and time. It’s good to work on the value proposition of your business.
That helps with deciding the price that you will be charging your members. Ultimately, it will shape your pricing strategy for you.
Next, you need to pick a pricing model. That’s the structure of how your members will pay you.
It’s time to create some substance!
In this step, you will work on the following points.
- You will need to create a set of rules and SOPs for your community members to follow. These rules will ensure better moderation, member behavior, the topical focus of the community, and preventing any kind of hate speech or harassment.
- Put an initial content strategy in place. Decide how often and what kind of content you need to put in the community.
This will totally depend on the type of your community. Also, develop a plan for engagement. Add things like polls, questions, and member feedback mechanisms. You can also hold live streams and even one-to-one sessions with individuals.
If you are a GroupApp user, you can create several channels for discussion. You can also store resources and PDFs in your GroupApp library.
Planning virtual meet-ups and webinars is another great idea. Don’t forget to work on content and engagement calendars.
- If you have a learning community, you can design courses. You can offer introductory courses free on a complimentary basis initially. This is great for member acquisition.
If your platform offers a great course management feature just like GroupApp, use it.
- Always connect your socials and any other kind of online presence with your community. Most importantly, add your business brief and link as well.
- Run a test phase of your community platform. This will help you prevent any sort of malfunctioning well in time. Make sure to report any problem to the platform hosting support and get it fixed.
- You also need to make sure that all tools and APIs (if any) are responding well. If your platform provides API integrations such as Zapier just as GroupApp does, test each. GroupApp also allows you to design workflows for accelerating community function.
- Ask your existing followers or members from the previous platform to join your new community (If any). This will populate your community initially.
- Test content on the existing members on the new platform. Take feedback and fix the loopholes.
- Train your team to manage and run the platform. In case you are on your own, get yourself completely familiar with the process.
It’s time to get the ball rolling! Give yourself a pat on the back.
Your online community is now ready to launch. Formal go forward by publicly announcing your community. Take full advantage of your socials and email list for marketing. You can also get help from a digital marketing or lead generation expert in this regard.
As you evolve gradually, scale up your community and add more means of income. Such as running paid ads. Each member of your community needs to feel validated and sense of belonging. Have a proactively engaging role in your growth and community. Be responsible, take charge, and you are going to go a long way!
That’s how you make an online community using a dedicated community platform. The story will just begin after you launch your community. That will be an ever-evolving journey.
Your community’s journey will primarily run based on one factor. It’s how well your community hosting platform caters to the growing needs and dynamics of your community. So, pick your community hosting platform wisely.
Why not give GroupApp a go? Check out the GroupApp Community App here.
GroupApp is a LIFESAVER! That’s how Marcia E’Dan, a Life Coach who runs a thriving community sing GroupApp puts her experience.
Create Your FREE GroupApp Account
GroupApp is affordable, user-friendly, and efficient. It’s exactly what you need. And, it can be anything your community needs it to be. Experience it yourself by creating a free account at GroupApp. Remember, a profitable and proactive community is just a quick sign-up away!