Growing businesses face the challenge of generating attention and engagement from companies (and people) in their target markets who aren’t currently looking to buy.
Those who know how to generate word-of-mouth marketing know it’s the best form of marketing there is. However, if you don’t have thousands of customers who regularly use your product or if it isn’t “buzzworthy,” word-of-mouth marketing can often feel distant. In today’s always “on” world, it can be a challenge to find time to be present outside your business bubble, especially with the hustle and bustle of the always “on” world.
It may be a good idea to implement a community marketing program if you’re facing these challenges. Connecting with others might just be as simple as joining or creating an online community.
In case you’re not already part of one, you’re missing out on so many opportunities to reach a whole new audience, expand your reach, and help others better. Your knowledge base gains a whole new perspective.
It is true that “two heads are better than one,” and joining or creating an online community can also help you reach a better outcome.
What is an Online Community?
Online community members meet in the virtual world through social media, hosting sites, or elsewhere on the internet. The following are some of the locations where virtual meetings can be held:
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Groups
- Mighty Network (a hosting app)
- A subdomain off of your website
- And more
It is also possible for these communities to organize events and meet if they wish. The technology we have today allows us to meet online through Zoom or FLOOR when we aren’t all in the same place. Connecting has become much easier.
Benefits to the Member
Either joining an online community or creating your own will benefit you. Either way, you’ll reap the benefits of being a member or you’ll provide them. The following are some of these benefits:
- Access to Exclusive Content: The ability to see something that not everyone has access to is always nice. The feeling of being valued and special is created when members are treated this way. In addition, you may receive updates faster or before the rest of the world.
- Having a place to network and connect with others: The online community is a great place for collaboration. Occasionally, your members will ask a question and receive an unexpected answer. It’s also a great place for them to discuss new ideas and problems they’re facing and receive advice that you and other members of the group can provide.
The internet does not have a 9-5 workday due to time zones and individual preferences. You’re able to accommodate individual schedules and answer questions when needed since online communities are open 24/7.
User interaction can lead to leaps in innovation since users can respond when they are most productive, rather than waiting for a specific time. Your online community can help everyone in a variety of ways.
- Feeling a sense of belonging: Finding your tribe and fitting in is a no-brainer, but finding your tribe does something to your brain. You can have a positive impact on your members’ lives if they are enjoying themselves.
Regardless of how much they vent, they can walk away feeling relieved. Members can feel included, happier, and more special when they feel included. Furthermore, they can rest easy knowing you and others with similar experiences are there to assist them and answer their questions.
Benefits to the Business
Having an online community isn’t just beneficial for members. There is usually a win-win situation both for your members and for your business. The following are seven benefits your business receives:
- Staff Support: A community’s top priority is to help each other out, which takes a load off your support staff. Rather than your team doing all the heavy lifting, the community can answer questions and point others in the right direction.
- Product Advocacy: Utilize your community members to advocate for new features or new products. By partnering with someone who believes in what you are doing, they can help you reach out to more people.
You can get help not only promoting your products but improving them as well. It is the community’s job to support you. Use them as a think tank to discover what kinds of new features they would like and which ones they hate.
- Acquisition: A community is a word-of-mouth army. In addition to acquiring new leads, they can also help to create more awareness for your product or service.
- Contribution: Reviewers, testimonials, guest blogs, and other marketing collateral can be created by community members. Get in touch with them if you need help.
- Deeper engagement: An online group post may spark a deeper conversation than a similar post on social media. It’s possible to gain insight into your members’ preferences and needs, which you can use to continue sharing interactive content with them.
Posting specific content that your members want to see gives your posts a greater chance of being seen, appreciated, and taken action upon.
People in your community will feel connected to you, so they’ll share your posts with others. It’s not like a social post where people will like the content, read it, but never do anything with it.
- Customer retention and loyalty: Trust and loyalty are extremely important for any brand/business. It is likely that some of your members are also your customers.
Your members will keep coming back if you nurture your group. People feel empowered when they are part of your success because when you grow, they feel like they are growing with you.
Hosting an online community, where members can rant, ask questions, and know you and others in the group are there to help them out, creates a sense of trustworthiness for your company. Your reputation can also improve after hosting a group for a while. The activities in your online network could transform the image of your business.
- Revenue: Even an online community can generate revenue for your business. This can be accomplished by having a membership fee, paid tiers within the community, and more, depending on the size and scope of your group.
You get more features the more you pay, just like on a music streaming site like Spotify. You can apply the same concept to your online community as well.
A Business’s Role in B2B Online Communities
Businesses have become increasingly involved in online communities as they have grown and developed over time. These two key actions can be performed by them:
- Participate in different communities and get to know people
- Build their own community
You can benefit from both of these actions if you take them. It allows you to be in multiple places other than just your website and your social media pages by becoming a part of different virtual communities and interacting with content posted there. As a result, you’re able to establish yourself more widely.
You can create something that adds value to your brand by starting an online community. As mentioned in previous sections, this allows you to engage with your followers and/or customers more directly.
Should Every B2B Organization Create an Online Community?
Though it might seem like every business should create an online community, I think it really depends on your business and whether or not you can offer value. Online communities might not be the best choice if you can’t provide your members with something of value or something to be excited about.
As well as paying attention to what’s going on in your network and nurturing it, you have to be able to nurture it as well. It might not be the right time for you to create this extra space if no one has the time or desire to do so.
Measuring your end result is a means to an end when it is based on a metric. It’ll never happen soon enough or give you the results fast enough because communities take time and effort to grow. While creating an online community try to keep these points in mind:
- Develop a community that is in line with your brand. Don’t have people guessing why you created something that doesn’t align with your business.
- Ensure your members receive value and create a fun environment for them. Members will drop your content if it isn’t interesting and/or fun to them. Be positive and personable, too. The more comfortable your members feel, the more likely they are to stay.
- Don’t be an outsider. Online communities don’t just happen by themselves. You have to motivate them and keep them engaged. Get involved, interact and engage with people. Monitor the conversation.
Online communities provide brands with a platform for engagement and relationship building. The best communities keep customers coming back by providing real value, for example in the form of advice, special offers or exclusive content
Whether you’re looking for a new community to join or thinking about joining, you’ve come to the right place. FLOOR is an all-in-one community engagement platform. It empowers organizations of all sizes and sectors to build, manage, and grow online communities. Schedule a demo today!