How to Manage an Online Community Effectively
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Have you ever thought of building a community online?
When you’re running a business, an online community allows you to connect with your audience. And as you engage with them, you get to learn about their needs – even drive them further down your sales funnel.
But while an online community can be a significant asset, it also requires work to thrive. So before you get started, you must know how to manage an online community effectively.
Today’s article will show you how. Keep reading.
1. Use an online platform you’re comfortable with
Assuming that you’ve already identified your goals for building a community, the next step is to select the right platform. You can choose from plenty of options out there. And it’s easy to get confused.
Here’s the key: Pick a platform that you feel most comfortable with.
The following questions will guide you in making the best choice:
- Does it fall within your budget?
- Is it easy to use?
- Will it support the payment options or gateways you use?
- Can you offer free trials, coupons, and discounts?
- Are you able to restrict content access however you want?
2. Communicate the purpose and guidelines of your community
This is one of the most important ways to ensure a thriving online community. Remind people why they joined in the first place. Send them a weekly or monthly newsletter.
When it comes to rules, make sure you communicate them clearly and enforce them. Here’s a practical tip: See how other online communities do it. That way, you can have some idea on what most guidelines contain.
Begin with the basics. Examples include being respectful and maintaining positivity. Also, specify blatant violations that members should avoid like hate speech, trolling, or promoting other businesses.
Make sure that people can easily find and understand your code of conduct.
3. Designate a community manager
To facilitate your online community’s growth, consider hiring a community manager. Community managers involve themselves in all aspects of growing the community.
Their tasks include but are not limited to:
- Creating a content plan
- Setting community policies
- Responding to members’ comments and requests
- Engaging in conversations to get feedback
When hiring a community manager, choose someone with strong communication skills. He or she must also have the relevant experience.
Most importantly, the person should be willing and able to commit time to grow your community.
4. Fuel active engagement
Interact with your community by initiating relevant and exciting discussions. When people mention you, do your best to respond. This encourages further discussion. Most importantly, it humanizes your brand.
Here are some more ways to create more engagement:
- Celebrate or appreciate members for their active participation
- Welcome newbies and make them feel that they belong
- Use live video streaming and answer questions in real-time
Remember: Being consistent with engagement matters.
If you’ve posted several times a week and suddenly disappeared, people will notice. If you have to go on a vacation, let your group know.
5. Provide valuable content
Always produce online content that satisfies their needs and interests. Plan in advance what topics you’ll be sharing each week. Check what your competitors are doing.
But don’t just offer your content. Another content creation strategy is to leverage what your audience has created – aka “user-generated content.”
Feature their pictures, testimonials, or social media posts. Just make sure to ask for their permission first. User-generated content boosts your social proof. It also encourages word-of-mouth marketing.
6. Keep tabs on people’s posts
Effective online community management entails monitoring people’s conversations.
You may need to delete inappropriate content when push comes to shove. A neglected online community attracts spammers.
Keep an eye on complaints. If you have to remove a comment, reach out to the person and let them know why.
7. Use information to your advantage
Online communities are a source of valuable information – information that you can use to grow your business.
People in your community share their stories, questions, and insights. These may help you realize areas that need to be changed or improved.
For instance, a member may ask a question about your product or even talk about your competitors. These ideas reveal what people care about and what influences their buying decisions.
You already know how to manage an online community with the strategies above. As you can see, building a strong online community takes time and effort. But it’s worth it.
If you follow our tips, you’ll be able to build the kind of community you want that achieves your goals!
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