Linking Online Community to Business Success

This content was provided by Chris Detzel. This originally appeared at Chris’ website.

Online communities are virtual spaces where people can connect, collaborate, and engage with each other. As more businesses shift their operations online, it is crucial for them to develop strong and active communities to enhance customer engagement, increase brand loyalty, and drive business outcomes. This blog will explore the key elements of a successful community strategy, engagement strategy, and content strategy to help businesses achieve their goals.

Your overall community strategy should be closely aligned with the overall business strategy to ensure its success and drive meaningful outcomes. This can be achieved by aligning the goals of the community strategy with the business objectives, directly supporting business objectives through tactics and activities within the community, measuring the impact of the community strategy through metrics that align with the business, integrating the community strategy with other parts of the business such as marketing and sales, building a strong brand through the community, and leveraging customer insights gathered from community interactions to inform and optimize the overall business strategy. By following these steps, companies can ensure that their community strategy is effectively driving business outcomes and contributing to long-term success.

Community Strategy: 

  1. Define your community’s purpose: The first step in building a successful online community is to clearly define its purpose. This includes identifying the target audience, understanding their needs, and determining how the community will add value to their lives.
  2. Choose the right platform: Selecting the right platform for your community is crucial. Consider factors such as ease of use, customization options, and security when making your choice.
  3. Establish clear rules and guidelines: Developing clear rules and guidelines for community members to follow helps ensure a positive and productive experience for everyone.
  4. Foster a sense of belonging: Encourage community members to feel like they are part of a shared experience by creating opportunities for them to connect with each other, such as virtual events, contests, or discussions.
  5. Create a strategy that has clear business outcomes: Roll your strategy into the departments business goals. In the below example, I roll my strategy into the marketing plan, Customer Success plan, Product plan and support. Community in this case touches a little of every department.
Example of Community Strategy or Plan on a page that funnels up to the main Marketing strategy
Example of Community Strategy or Plan on a page that funnels up to the main Marketing strategy

Engagement Strategy:

  1. Encouraging active participation is key to keeping your community engaged. This includes regular prompts for discussion, challenges, and other interactive activities.
  2. Regularly respond to feedback from community members and use this information to make improvements and provide more value to your audience.
  3. Recognizing and rewarding community members who are actively engaged can help motivate others to participate more. Consider offering incentives such as exclusive access to content, early access to products, or special recognition.
Rewards and Recognition Program for better engagement
Rewards and Recognition Program for better engagement

Content Strategy:

  1. Plan and create high-quality content that is relevant to your audience and helps achieve your community’s purpose. This may include articles, videos, podcasts, or other formats.
  2. Repurpose and recycle content: Repurposing and recycling content can help save time and resources while still providing value to your community.
  3. Promote user-generated content: Encouraging and promoting user-generated content can help foster a sense of ownership and engagement among community members.

14 Tactics to drive strategies in online communities include:

  1. Hosting virtual events, such as webinars, Q&A sessions, or workshops, can help engage community members and foster a sense of belonging.
  2. Encourage community members to share their experiences, opinions, and insights by hosting contests, creating discussion forums, or promoting user-generated content.
  3. Personalizing communications, such as personalized welcome messages, tailored email newsletters, or direct messaging, can help build stronger connections with community members.
  4. Providing resources and support: Providing resources and support, such as tutorials, FAQs, or access to experts, can help community members solve problems and achieve their goals.
  5. Regularly measuring and analyzing data, such as engagement metrics, conversion rates, or customer satisfaction, can help optimize your strategies and improve the overall success of your community.
  6. Collaborating with influencers, such as bloggers, thought leaders, or industry experts, can help reach new audiences and increase engagement within your community.
  7. Gamification: Incorporating gamification elements, such as points, badges, or rewards, can motivate community members to participate and achieve their goals.
  8. Hosting challenges and contests that are relevant and engaging for your community members can increase participation and drive engagement.
  9. Identifying and building relationships with community leaders, such as moderators or top contributors, can help amplify your community’s reach and influence.
  10. Leveraging social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, can help increase visibility and reach for your community.
  11. Creating a sense of urgency, such as limited time offers, flash sales, or exclusive access, can encourage community members to take action.
  12. Offering incentives, such as discounts, free trials, or access to premium content, can encourage community members to participate and achieve their goals.
  13. Fostering collaboration and peer-to-peer support by creating opportunities for community members to work together, such as groups, projects, or challenges, can drive engagement and build stronger relationships.
  14. Continuously improving and optimizing your community strategy, engagement strategy, and content strategy based on feedback and performance data can help drive long-term success.

Building a strong online community requires careful planning and execution. By developing a clear community strategy, engagement strategy, and content strategy, businesses can create communities that drive engagement, increase brand loyalty, and drive business outcomes. By following these best practices, businesses can create communities that are thriving, engaging, and valuable for all members.

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