74% of large and 40% of smaller businesses have a community
A recent study found that 74% of larger organisations surveyed in the United States had an online community, while just 54% of smaller businesses surveyed had established such a community. This perhaps suggests the difficulties associated with developing an online community. It also points to how important they can be if used well.
Part of the difficulty associated with building an online or, indeed, an offline community is attracting members. Building an online community requires two things – an attractive product or community to become a member of and
communicating the attractiveness of that product (the community) to potential members. Not surprisingly, this tends to be more efficient online.
Effective modes of communication in building an online community include:
- Offline customer engagement and incentives
- Social media and content marketing
- Online advertising – traditional and native
Social media provides an ideal forum for discussions and content advocating membership of your online community, giving a taste of what it has to offer.
Online advertising, both traditional display and Ad-words, together with native advertising, can be very effective in attracting members.
Once members are secured – they should become evangelists, promoting membership of the community to friends and relatives, and sharing content with potential members.
Nothing works better in terms of building a community than creating content that engages members and potential members and is shared with prospective members.
RECOMMENDATIONS – Develop a communication strategy for your online community that addresses online and offline communication by creating content that will be shared with members and potential members.