What is one tip to remember when creating an online community? 

To help you create a successful online community, we asked social media managers and business leaders this question for their best tips. From building a core group of ambassadors to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, there are several ideas that you may implement to help you build a thriving online community for your brand.

Here are 12 tips for creating online communities:

  • Build a Core Group of Ambassadors
  • Keep The Conversations Going
  • Share User-Generated Content To Show Support
  • Create The Community With The Audience in Mind
  • Make Sure Everyone Feels Appreciated
  • Cater To Different Platforms
  • Prepare a Check-List of Tasks
  • Set The Rules That Run The Community
  • Define The Goal and Purpose
  • Be Consistent In Your Engagement
  • Focus on The Community and Make Your Benefits Secondary
  • Create a Welcoming and Inclusive Environment

Build a Core Group of Ambassadors

While your activities as the community owner matter, online communities ultimately thrive when the members themselves sustain the majority of the activity. This requires cultivating a core group of super-engagers who drive engagement in the group. Four to five percent of your members will suffice if they are actively posting and engaging with other people who post. It takes work to cultivate these ambassadors, but focusing your early efforts on finding and rewarding these super-engagers is well worth your time. Once you have ambassadors in place, you’ll find the community will start to function largely on its own.

Bobby Klinck, BobbyKlinck.com

Keep The Conversations Going

Once you have created this community, make sure to manage it. Do not just create it and then assume people will come up with topics to discuss. Certainly they may, but you have to pay attention to what is going on and act accordingly. For example, if no one has made any comments in a while, you can post a question or topic for people to elaborate on. If this community is abandoned for too long, people may not be as likely to come back.

Nick Shackelford, Structured Agency

Share User-Generated Content To Show Support

Give your community support and love if they’re helping you feature, review, or refer your product. We feature user-generated content on our Instagram and Tiktok to share reach with our community who help our business with their spotlights, video content, and reviews. Sharing UGC is a number one rule for engagement too. Users love seeing their homemade content featured on our account and commenting on the stars (and our end-users), the adorable pups featured in almost all of our content. 

“Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” is a good business strategy for nurturing and retaining online communities–except maybe for us it’s more like “scratch my tummy and I’ll scratch yours.”

James Shalhoub, Finn

Create The Community With The Audience in Mind

When creating an online community, you need to design it with the audience in mind. Your audience are the ones that will be consuming the content, and it needs to resonate with them. Ask the questions and incorporate their suggestions because they will participate when they feel a part of the group. They will also refer people to the group, creating buzz and growth. So make sure that they are involved in creating and changing the community along the way because it is for them, so let them take the journey with you.

Aikyna Finch, Finch and Associates, LLC

Make Sure Everyone Feels Appreciated

One of the easiest ways to build an engaged online community is to recognize and celebrate your community leaders and newest members. Recognition goes a long way in life, especially if the person offers their time, knowledge, resources, etc. Create time and space to acknowledge certain people in your community in a public manner–either in a Facebook post, an email, on your website, at an event, etc. Or better yet, give away some cool, branded swag like a t-shirt. People love free stuff, and you’ll benefit from free advertising too.

Kristi Mitchell, KM Consulting

Cater To Different Platforms

Your online community can exist across multiple platforms and it’s important that each community be treated as a unique entity. Each social media platform you use requires different methods of engagement. For example, Facebook has an older audience and allows for a larger amount of text than platforms like Instagram. Find a way to share info about your brand that caters to each individual community. Don’t repost the same material across different platforms.

Karl Hughes, Draft.Dev

Prepare a Check-List of Tasks

When creating an online community, prepare an ongoing tasks checklist for yourself. Organize your to-do’s into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Daily tasks need to be done each day, such as answering private messages or responding to comments. Weekly tasks cover content ideas or scheduling posts, while monthly focus on analyses and metrics. This to-do calendar will help you remember your most important tasks and complete them on time. This is especially important at the beginning of creating an online community when it’s easy to overlook some tasks. Besides, it’s a plan that keeps you moving toward your chosen goal.

Nina Paczka, MyPerfectResume

Set The Rules That Run The Community

As an online community manager, you have the responsibility to create a safe space for your members where they can share their opinions and engage with others. However, it’s essential to set the rules you want your members to follow. Online community guidelines help manage users who have access to your platform and ensure that people treat each other with respect. When writing them, think of the standards that define an expected user behavior. 

For example, if you don’t want any self-promotional or commercial content, include in your guidelines that posting any spam, self-promotion, and misleading content on your platform is prohibited. Also, it’s important to make it clear to the users the consequences of failing to follow your rules. If people know the penalties, there is a higher chance that they will think twice before posting any inappropriate content in your online community.

Dorota Lysienia, MyPerfectResume

Define The Goal and Purpose

This is the first step in creating an online community, and without it, you cannot proceed. People will not comprehend why they should join your community if it lacks a purpose. Your community provides something to its members; the question is, what experience does it provide to its customers? For example, your community may be for people who are backpacking through Europe and want to hear tips, methods, and recommendations from other backpackers who have visited the same destinations. Your goal is to provide them with firsthand information that would otherwise be difficult to find online. Your members will ask each other for hostel and hotel recommendations, where walking tours begin, and whether it was worthwhile to visit a distant site.

Max Whiteside, Breaking Muscle

Be Consistent In Your Engagement

After you start your community around a singular purpose/niche/commonality or mission, the real effort is in your patience and consistency.  Consistency should be multi-faceted. Ensure you have Daily easy engagements for your community to chime in on. On a weekly basis, there should be a theme, or overarching problem, that you’re trying to address and generate insights for / from.  And, on a monthly basis, you should have some sort of literal or knowledge based sweepstakes. Challenge your users to engage the content that other users can vote on as the best for a particular purpose. Or the funniest content. Or the most useful insight. 

The community can only grow if you’re patient and consistent in how you foster it. It is not as simple as buying eyeballs with advertising – you need to foster action, reaction, engagement, and growth from the users themselves. Conversions aren’t as simple as “joined the community”

Adam Casole-Buchanan, DeckLinks

Focus on The Community and Make Your Benefits Secondary

Online communities can be powerful assets but they also take a lot of time and energy.
Because of the required investment, many organizations try to monetize them too aggressively, too soon, or both. It’s essential that these benefits to you are secondary and your primary focus should be on making your community useful to its members. 

Spend your time trying to figure out ways to keep engagement strong without you having to constantly have to check up on or actively participate in every discussion.

Daniel Ndukwu, UsefulPDF

Create a Welcoming and Inclusive Environment

There are many factors to consider when creating an online community, but one key tip is to focus on creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. This means making sure that everyone feels comfortable participating and that they feel like they belong. To do this, it’s important to have clear guidelines and moderate the community to make sure that trolls and bullies don’t take over. It’s also important to create stimulating content and discussions that will keep people coming back. 

By focusing on these things, you can create a successful online community that people will love being a part of.

Asako Ito, Divine Lashes

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