In this second part, we will get into the details of building and growing your online community. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, make sure you follow up on that article first!
After defining the goals and purposes, the stakeholders and the way you want to structure and organize your online community, it’s time to get the project started.
Step 4: Select a community platform
In this part of the process, the information gained from the planning steps before will come in handy.
The great thing about a brand community platform is that you are in full control. The users are free of distractions and can focus on your content. Nevertheless, things such as discoverability and a learning curve are to be considered. That’s why having social media platforms as well is an excellent strategy. You can use those free social media communities to direct your audience towards your own online brand community for a better experience.
Think about what you are building your community for, whether it’s engagement or support, and check different vendors. Examine the features they offer. Make sure that the platform you decide to use for your community serves its purpose and is as easy and intuitive for its members as possible.
Step 5: Set goals and KPIs to measure your community’s success
Before you launch your online community, it’s very important to determine how you want to measure your goals and set KPIs to see if you are on track.
There is a general distinction between KPI measures. There are engagement metrics and business metrics. The engagement metrics measure how active your community is, for example the amount of log-ins or posts created. The business metrics measure the impact of your community on the business like retention rates.
Set up some baseline metrics and some target KPIs to measure your success and compare them regularly. Make sure you define measurable goals for the first six months of your community. They should be achievable, but aggressive in the beginning.
Check if your metrics align with your organization’s and users’ goals and the purpose of the community. Keep the SMART concept in mind: Specific Measurable Achievable Reasonable Time-Bound.
Using and keeping track of your KPIs will help you immensely in succeeding with your community.
Step 6: Develop community guidelines and rules
Before setting up your community, you should create a moderation strategy that includes user behaviour guidelines and rules to keep your community safe.
Typical components of the moderation process that should be included are:
- Code of conduct (for members and moderators, detailing what content is accepted and what not)
- Content curation (ensure quality and alignment of user-generated content with the community rules)
- Climate moderation (provide a safe and open environment that encourages appropriate discussion)
- Complaint and resolution process (have a system in place on how to handle complaints)
- Zero tolerance for discrimination and harassement
Make sure to link a document with the community guidelines and rules.
Step 7: Set up your community
There are some general steps to follow here that are the same for most and essential for your branding.
1. Customize your community: By having your own platform, make use of the many customization options available like colors, fonts and logo to create a personalized experience.
- Community description: This is your introduction. Make sure it’s a short read and on point. It should capture who this community is for and what you can do there.
- Cover photo: Use photos, logos and designs to enrich the experience. It’s your personal branding.
- Link your business website and vice versa: This way, users can easily navigate to your website, and website visitors can find your community.
2. Assign the roles: In an earlier step, we defined the roles and responsibilities you want to assign. Now is the time to actually do that within the platform through the administration dashboard.
3. Create tags and categories: They will allow you to keep things organized and your members to find the information they need faster, especially once your platform gets going.
Those are the elemental steps that you should follow. Depending on the platform you choose, there might be more options as you set up your community.
Step 8: Promote and grow your community
Now that you have set up your community to your satisfaction, it’s time to bring some life to it. This is the process that will take the most time generally and where you have to put in the most effort.
In the beginning, you will have to prompt and encourage the members to get active and involved. As the community grows, more people will co-create content. Design a welcome page for new members and create some posts that serve as guides to help the members get accustomed to the platform and its navigation.
Getting people on your platform is the real challenge. Promote it by pointing out which problems it solves from the customer’s perspective and what value it gives. If it’s a brand community for your customers, find out where in their customer journey it brings the most value and try to implement it there, for example, before or after a purchase.
Use your existing social media platforms to promote your online brand community by posting about it on Facebook, LinkedIn or other channels. Incorporate a link to your community platform on your website if it’s an open-for-all-community. If it’s just for existing customers, send out an email to those with a sign-up link and point out the benefits of a membership. If it’s just for internal purposes, you can sign people up or send out an email as well.
Additionally, try incorporating referral programs if that suits your community’s purpose. Keep track of your KPIs, maybe you will notice an interesting jump in user sign-ups. Try to find out what caused it and to reverse engineer it.
While getting new members is important, it’s vital to keep in mind the existing ones and make sure you don’t lose them. You can prevent that from happening by creating engaging content such as special themed days, AMA’s, moderated discussions or competitions. Find out what would work for your community and watch it grow.
Building your own online brand community may not be easy, but if done right, it can absolutely be worth the investment. These communities can increase awareness, leads, satisfaction, drive conversions and become a powerful part of your marketing strategy. The eight steps provided to you in part 1 and 2 will serve you as a great foundation when starting your own community and succeeding with it. Improve your chances even more and reduce your workload by using the Wisdom platform.
You are now ready to start your new online brand community!