We’re all part of a community whether we know it or not. In fact, ever since the dawn of civilization, humanity has thrived because of living in large communities where one would gather, communicate, trade, and do livelihood together. These days, large groups like this can be narrowed down to your family, friends, or generally, anyone who shares common interests within a group, and can discuss things openly just like in the Empire27 forum.
In the more recent decade however, new communities have been growing at enormous rates – and they exist all over the internet! Just exactly what are they and how do they work? How can we get more involved in these communities? We’ll certainly find out as we read today’s blog post titled: How do Online Communities Work?
What are online communities?
Online communities can take the exact principle as real-life communities, but on a virtual landscape – ie: the internet. You may be already part of several online communities such as Facebook groups, Linked-In, Reddit, or Discord. But how do communities start and what are they built upon?
At the root of all online communities is a common shared interest in something. Maybe it’s coffee, maybe it’s mobile gaming, or even beauty products. Most online communities have a certain guideline or need to fulfill community engagement and management. The scale of members can range from 100 – 1 million online members. Understanding what kind of community is the most beneficial for you is one of the first steps to joining, or even building your own online community for your brand. There are mainly 2 types of online communities.
Types of online communities
Social Network Communities
Instagram, Facebook, and Tiktok all have a huge online following. You can join a Facebook group for your favorite binge-worthy telenovela or be part of an online organization that runs a following on Instagram. The best part is that it is completely free to join and there aren’t many guidelines involved. You merely need to create an account on social media to join.
Branding communities are the opposite of Social Network Communities. Although they share common characteristics like they are online as well, and may sometimes use social media platforms too. However, Branding communities are more exclusive. Think of it as paying for membership in an exclusive club, or hotel but the only difference is that it is online.
Why should you join an online community?
As we learned previously, online communities can greatly benefit us. In an online community, you can bring together students, or customers in one place wherein you can discuss related topics, and even see what part of your community likes or dislikes.
This can be very beneficial towards branding communities specifically because they can get close to free daily feedback about their products directly from their community as well as share ideas with them, and promote upcoming events.
Building an online community
Building an online community for your brand can prove very valuable. Having an online community will give you the advantage of constant feedback towards your product and that would definitely help you improve your brand. You can put together focus groups and conduct customer research. Having an online community makes it easier for you to communicate with your audience. The only hard work about building your community is figuring out your strategies and promoting yourself in line with the goals you have set out for your brand.
Here are the steps to building your online community
Define your purpose
Select a goal, and a purpose for your online community, and stick to it! This is arguably the most important step because if there is no shared purpose within your group, it will lack the foundation to build a rock solid community.
Choose your online platform
Now that your group has set some goals with a common purpose, it’s time to bring it online. Choosing an online platform can be simplified down to how many members you are looking to grow. If it’s a small group of 10, you might want to consider using Whatsapp or Telegram. On the other hand, if you’re looking to grow more than a thousand, Facebook, Twitter or Reddit are the most recommended free online social media platforms with a huge community following. You may also want to consider building a website for your brand wherein your members can log in to the community.
Build your members
Consider your niche to target a specific group of people who would be fit to join your unique online community. The more specific, the better you can work towards each and everyone’s wants and needs.
Set up rules and guidelines
Before anyone can join your community, it is important to set up rules and guidelines so that everyone is properly established and informed. Show them the rules and make it clear what happens if they don’t abide by them. An example would be kicking a member of a group who spreads negativity by bullying others or using profanity.
Promote your Community
Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to get yourself out there. Promote your community to gain more members and followings. Remember, this can be highly useful if you are trying to sell a brand! You can start by making a referral program for your members, or invite influencers to partner with you.
Characteristics of a good online community
Whether you’re thinking of starting your own community or just simply joining one, the advantages of being in one would greatly benefit you. How would we be able to determine if the online community is good or not? Let’s take a look at the common characteristics of proven and successful online communities to help kickstart your venture into this new world.
Engagement and Community Support
A good online community should have good engagement and support from its moderators and members. Well-engaged communities are more empowered when they know they have a good network of support from each other. It’s a place where they can voice out their opinions, or share what they are most passionate about. If you’re planning to manage a community, then make sure you put into consideration every individual in your community to effectively cater to each need.
A thriving community has members from all around the world. And when you put together a bunch of diverse individuals, you will gain insight into other people’s cultures and way of thinking. Being diverse is not excluded to your members entirely. Your brand can be culturally diverse as well to target a much wider, international market, and properly cater to their needs as well.
Does your community have shared goals? If so, then it’s good! Communities with shared interests and goals are driven by the desire to fulfill these goals and see them come to fruition! And as we mentioned before, creating shared goals is one of the first steps towards building a successful community!
Knowing how to maintain order, and strike engaging content is a skill that takes a lot of time to master. Having good community management is really going to keep your community afloat. If there aren’t any boundaries, or community guidelines, you may see your community fall into chaos.
That concludes all we have to know about online communities. Now that you learned that online community engagement can help your brand or organization connect more intimately with your customers and members, it’s time for you to go and test them out! We encourage you to follow these steps in order for you to create a successful online community.