If you can build an online community you can build a hugely successful business online. Online communities usually consist of an information area, a member’s area with a forum, sometimes a chat room and often a member’s resource section, with checklists, white papers, member’s directory, and whatever else interests your community that you can provide.
Determine What Technology You Will Use
One of the most important aspects of starting an online community is choosing which technology you will use to build it. There are many options to choose from, base your choice on your technical knowledge, your budget, and what features you want the community to offer.
Choose the Niche You’ll Focus On
It’s best if the online community you build is based on one target audience and not too large a niche. Just as you focus on a specific niche with your business, focus on the same niche with your community.
Create Content Specifically for the Community
Once you have a community, no matter how small it is at the start, it’s important that you create content specifically for that community on a regular basis. Consistency is the key to ensuring that you attract new members and keep the old members satisfied, interested and best of all, they will help promote your community.
Invite New People on a Regular Basis
You want to have a steady stream of new members joining because it keeps the community fresh and brings in new questions, thoughts, and conversations that makes it more interesting for everyone.
Connect Your Community to Social Media
Social media is one of the best way to market your online community, you can even start with an online community first on Facebook with Facebook Groups.
Be Engaging and Caring
Your personality will show through if you participate on a regular basis in discussions with your community. Let them see how sharing and caring you are.
Make It Easy for Others to Promote the Community
Start a referral club or an affiliate program that enables your community members to promote the group to others. Reward them somehow for bringing in new members and the reward can be a recognized community award that shows other community members their accomplishment.
Interview Members on a Regular Basis
A great way to add interesting content to the community is to choose a member each month to highlight and interview. You can do these interviews in podcast form and put them on iTunes as well, for another way to promote your community.
Interview Experts in Your Niche
A great benefit for your community is to be able to learn from movers, shakers and other experts within your niche. You could interview these people also and best of all, these movers and shakers will often promote your podcast to their audience helping you to grow your community.
Promote Members of the Community
Once in a while allow the members of your community to promote their business offerings by having a something like a members fire sale or something, that enables your members business to benefit from the entire community sharing.
Keep the Conversation Going
Don’t let your community die down, try to keep the conversation going; ask for volunteers to monitor the group and to contribute to the content and discussion and if needed ask leading questions.
Building an online community can help you create an entire community of raving fans that are not only ready to purchase your current products but who will also stand in line to purchase your new products. They’ll also promote you to their friends, family and associates, it’s also a tremendous way to get involved with your audience and make them part of your business.