Building an online community, and participating in online communities, is an important way to market your business online that is going to really take off in 2015 and beyond. The technology has become so simple that anyone can start a community today. The trick is building one so that it is a productive and valuable extension of your business.

Start Your Own Community

If you start your own community focused on a certain niche, you will be able to control what happens and market yourself much easier without having to follow anyone else’s rules.

Utilize Special Offers

If you actively involve your community and utilize special offers only to the group, they’ll feel as if they are special and unique and be more likely to give you a good testimonial and referral when the product goes live to the general public.

Ask Questions

Keep the discussion going by asking at least one leading question of the community every day. Not only will it keep the community active for others who are just visiting for the first time, it will help people get to know you by seeing your name and face every day.

Conduct Surveys and Polls

Some online communities have a way to conduct a poll or run a survey. This is where you ask a question but have set answers that they can choose from. It’s a great way to ask about your future products, such as, “Should I Name my Product X or Y?” By making your community part of the creation process they’ll be more likely to purchase.

Utilize the Power of Twitter

I’m a Twitter nut, so take your community to Twitter and host an event on Twitter, simply incorporate your community in a list you control and then get everyone to subscribe to the list, in this way everyone see each other’s tweets and you can take the conversation there with competitions, special hashtags, etc… think of it as a live event. You could also host a topic for a week and simply measure the results via a search for a special hashtag.

Plan a Monthly Webinar

Your community are the best people to attend your monthly webinar, invite them to attend and then plan it around a particular topic that is applicable to your niche and also ideally of interest to your community.

Promote Yourself via Your Signature Line

It’s important to complete your online profile fully and to incorporate a good signature line that sends the members of the community to a special sales page on your website just for them. Oh and while I am talking about signatures, incorporate one in your emails, it still amazes me how many people fail to do so and miss out on visitors as a result.

Invite Others into the Community

Seek to selectively grow the group by inviting others who are interested in the same niche to the community. Keeping new members coming in on a regular basis is a way to keep the community fresh, active and growing.

Don’t Allow Anonymity

If you own the group, ensure that people are themselves and aren’t allowed to remain anonymous. The reason is that if people are required to use their real name, they’ll be much less likely to be scammers and trolls and it will help you keep your community safe.

Become the Go-To Resource

Within the boundaries of your niche and subject matter, seek to become the go-to resource by always answering questions, pointing people in the right direction and linking people together. In addition, start discussions and share content that relates to your niche your aim being to own your niche in the eyes of your community.

Using online communities to build relationships with other people is an important way to grow your business in 2015 and beyond. This is because businesses that have longevity have always known that putting the customer at the center of everything, is what really works and gives them a massive advantage.

Ten Ways to Make Use of Online Communities in 2015
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