Building an Online Community: 8 Crucial Tips

by Guest Author on September 9, 2010

in Blogging, Guest Posts

Lots of people - a community?

Online marketers new and old must recognize the power of the online community to establish the reputation of a business and to attract new customers. Members of online communities visit sites that interest them more often, stay longer at those sites, and spend more money than other internet users. This is the type of visitor you want coming to your blog or forum, so building an online community is something your business should want to do. It is not really easy building an online community: 8 crucial tips listed here will get you started in the right direction, however.

1. Satisfy a need: Don’t just throw a blog or forum out there because you have read that an online community is a good marketing approach. Whether people have a need for information, support, or information and support, the community should exist to meet one or more needs in order to be successful.

2. Participate in other communities: If you want people to be active in your blog, show that you are a team player and be a part of other communities. With limited time and resources it’s easy to get selfish and only focus on your immediate interests, but in reality, you get more by giving and you keep more by sharing. When you are seen active in other online communities, people will be naturally receptive to yours.

3. Software matters: An online community needs software that will facilitate interaction and usability. For examples, comments need to be threaded and nested, not just placed on a list. This helps people follow discussions and connect different replies with the comments that evoked them. Among other software features you should have is the ability for users to share in moderation. This keeps you out of the controversy while making your users partners in the community. You don’t have to spend a lot of money either. For example, the software that runs the Slashdot community is available for free.

4. Don’t take participants personally: A problem with online communities is that experts abound. Whether a person really is or is not an expert shouldn’t matter. Don’t get offended if you are criticized or offended. Arguments and debates can get out of hand and your peaceful community could become a war zone. Wrong or not, take criticisms and corrections in stride and enjoy building your forum or blog into a pleasant community.

5. Keep clutter to a minimum: An online community must be easily accessible and readable, so take steps to highlight valuable content. Try not to overdo banners, pop-ups, and other advertising while keeping headlines easily recognizable.

6. Communicate with users: When someone leaves a comment, go ahead and shoot them an email thanking them for their participation. Also, if you post an article that you think might interest a user or someone else online, send them a note with the link and invite them to check it out. By being proactive and engaging, you will develop a sense of inclusion that will be an asset to your online community.

7. Compel participants to return: The ultimate goal of building an online community should be to make people want to come back. This means that you have to have excitement, intensity, and a sense that people will miss out on something if they aren’t there. It takes a lot of work to build this type of environment, but it really pays off if you can make it happen.

8. Execute a plan: Success at building an online community will not happen with casual attention and random action: you must have a well thought out plan that is executed and updated as would any other project. Clear goals and definite methods of achieving them will help make your online community a success.

Now you know some things about building an online community: 8 crucial tips can get you started and keep your efforts focused on the long term goal of building value for your brand and a market for your products and services. Get started now, knowing that your hard work and commitment will result in a vibrant community and a successful marketing effort.

Guest post by: James Adams currently covers news in technology and reviews newly released hardware similar to the HP Q6000A for a specialist supplier of toner cartridges based in Manchester.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lakhyajyoti September 10, 2010 at 03:46

All points you have mentioned are crucial for building online community.Thanks for sharing.BWN I have downloaded the software that runs the Slashdot community.
Lakhyajyoti recently posted… Increasing Your Online Revenue through Social Media

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Peter Davies September 10, 2010 at 14:57

To James
Thanks very much for sharing this. Theres one or two things I can take from this post which I will implement.

I find in the IM World there is so much ‘noise’ out there these days it is difficult to gain the credibility required to get people to listen even though I believe of late I have been creating some very good content.
Peter Davies recently posted… What Would You Do If You Lost Your Online Business And Had To Start All Over Again

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John Sullivan September 12, 2010 at 15:08

I would just add that the site doesn’t owe anyone anything if people come by to promote their site the site is doing the person a favor not vice versa
ah that is a little harsh πŸ™‚
I meant bloggers should give back more and stop being all about themselves
ahh that is kinda harsh also πŸ™‚
I like this post how is that
Stumble and RT
Thanks some great tips

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Eric Shafer September 17, 2010 at 23:39

I think one of the more overlooked aspects is not focusing on monetization from your community too soon or too much. A lot of people try to build their community and then they load it up with ads, reviews, etc and end up destroying the community they built.
Eric Shafer recently posted… 30 Effective and Way Cool iPhone App Websites

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