ONLINE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT!

In the 80s the Internet changed from black & white to color, now it is changing from controlled social media networks to youronline.community. Creating online communities of customers, partners & employees is the priority for businesses and organizations this year. Whether you're trying to build virtual teams around shared goals for your business or convert your Facebook followers into customers, online communities are rapidly becoming the solution. Entrepreneurs are beginning to understand the value of having followers in their own communities instead of public social media networks, and that social media is not only for socializing but also for boosting collaboration among their working team, partners, suppliers and crowd sourced helpers.

Introducing online community into business strategy

Before you start

An online community will help you In the long run, it is not a quick fix for immediate marketing substitution, but is a solution for a lack of communication and organization. An online community will immediately help you engage and retain your existing customers, cut advertising and online marketing spending, crowd source and improve your communication in and out of the company.

Know your goals and resources

Know your community’s business goals before you go shopping for a community software. Otherwise you could be short of features and scalability. Since the explosion of online communities as a marketing tool many vendors are proposing instant community building. Most of them are hosted solutions and lack scalability, privacy, features but most importantly they will never be yours. So, the concept of having your own community instead of a group in Facebook or LinkedIn is lost.

Motivate followers to become members

You cannot force people to become members of your online community yet you can invite them to join for a cause, common interest, incentive, exclusive content, or personalized access to upcoming merchandise, services or info prior to being released to the general public. The best way to attract followers is to let them know they will be able to engage with people sharing their same interest.




Why & how to build an online community for your business

The new management and marketing tools for business

In the 80s the Internet changed from black & white to color, now it is changing from controlled social media networks to youronline.community. Creating online communities of customers, partners & employees is the priority for businesses and organizations this year. Whether you're trying to build virtual teams around shared goals for your business or convert your Facebook followers into customers, online communities are rapidly becoming the solution. Entrepreneurs are beginning to understand the value of having followers in their own communities instead of public social media networks, and that social media is not only for socializing but also for boosting collaboration among their working team, partners, suppliers and crowd sourced helpers.

Benefits of building an online community

  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Improve brand or product awareness
  • Improve brand or product reputation
  • Connect with a web-focused audience
  • Attract, convert and retain the right customers
  • Improve customer support
  • Eliminate web design companies
  • Improve internal and external communication
  • Exceed your marketing goals
  • Crowd source innovation
  • Beat the competition

Get the best CMS website

To get in front of your competition you need an online strategy that changes the way you communicate with your employees, partners and customers. You have to integrate web management and marketing tools into your business.




BUILD YOUR ONLINE COMMUNITY in 5 easy steps

Step 1: Choose an Open Source Software*

If you did not read what is written on the left, go back there and read it. If you did, you know that you need a core software to build your online community as hosted solutions are not good for you. This core software needs to be standalone* (you can host it anywhere), open source* (free), scalable, secure, and have a friendly CMS *(Back office dashboard). You also have to check if the core software of your choice is SEO* friendly and if it has a large choice of modules/ extensions* (add-on with features) for your business activities. Example: a choice of real estate modules or extensions if you are a real-estate agency.

Step 2: Promote or Hire a Community Manager*

In your company the best community manager will be the owner of the company. Second best the marketing manager. Third best the webmaster if they have notions of marketing, a great knowledge of the company products and services, and some sales, PR and writing experience. The number one mistake is to promote to community manager an IT person if he or she does not have the qualities mentioned above. Remember it will be easy to teach a marketing person how to use an interface similar to MS word/Facebook/ LinkedIn than to teach marketing/PR/press release, products and news writing to a network engineer.

Step 3: Get the Core Software Manual & Learn

Assuming the online community manager knows the core software well they just need to develop the community online in collaboration with the marketing team. Then teach all key company members how to use the new online platform. If the community manager does not know the core software train them to learn the software from the software manufacturer or a company like ours. If you wonder why I put “choose an open source software” before “promote or hire a community manager” it’s because most of the community managers use one or the other software, and of course they will convince you to use the one they know even if it is not the best for your enterprise.

Step 4: Create a lot of Interesting Content

Many things have changed in the Internet since the early 90’s but content is still king and the success of your community will depend on it. All of your content should focus on your products or services as your members signed up for that. Try to avoid playing journalist or special news reporter if your company, products or services are not involved with such news. Example: You have a restaurant and you do the catering for a movie premiere feel free to speak about the event in detail but do not speak about an event you are not involved with. Focus more on spontaneous events that happen in your restaurant, happy customers, birthdays, special Halloween parties, Christmas menus, Happy hour, snap shots of real life, etc...

Step 5: Seed your Community

Now it’s time to seed your community. Assuming you haven’t skipped step 4 your online community is now full of interesting content in the blog but also in all the pages about you, why you are developing this community and what you are offering to prospective members. Make sure to complete your own profile filling all details (photos, bio, causes, interest, hobbies) ask all your employees, collaborators, partners, vendors and of course all your family and friends to do the same. Do not start seeding an empty community. As soon as you have 100 -200 members start seeding as explained on the left graphic: Invite your social media friends and followers and ask all your members to do the same. Then invite you existing customers, doing so you should reach at least 500 to 1000 members even if you are a small business. Your community is now seeded and you have to grow it organically and with online marketing (social media).