How To Build An Online Community
Here is how to construct a successful online group, whether you're just starting or already have a sizable following.
Ashley Fox did the unthinkable in her early twenties: she left a high-paying job on Wall Street to start a company that would offer financial guidance to people with modest incomes.
After struggling for a while, she had an epiphany: she would teach the other 99 percent of Americans about money so they could avoid Wall Street's predatory practices.
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Her movement, called Empify (EMPower + modIFY), was adopted by fifty or more institutions and eventually reached over twenty thousand people. Ashley made a decision that would alter the course of her life while trying to determine the next step for her movement.
She began a forum on the web.
And in the first two weeks, her neighbourhood made $100,000.
Over a thousand people who didn't come from money themselves now make up the membership of The Wealth Builders Community to end poverty in their families.
Ashley's experience demonstrates the transformative power of joining a virtual group. And this is critical information if you create a virtual social group. It has the potential to alter your perspective as well.
When influential people or companies refer to “their community,” they may mean anyone from casual readers to devoted fans to subscribers to those who frequent their websites.
When we use the term “community,” we have a slightly different meaning in mind. A fundamental truth about creating an online community has been discovered by the thousands of people who have launched Mighty Networks: you don't need the social media following of a Kardashian or the website traffic of Glossier.
The modern value of establishing an online community is bringing together those who have expertise in a particular field.
For those unfamiliar, please explain what it is that makes up a “virtual neighborhood”
Creators of online communities care deeply about bringing people together and fostering meaningful relationships, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary: “an online community is a group of people with a shared interest or motivation who meet up on the Internet to inspire, affirm, learn, grow, and form connections with each other.”
In contrast to social media, online communities focus on depth rather than breadth, as individuals or small groups work toward a common goal of expertise. Not only do the community's Hosts put in the effort, but so do the members themselves as they become more involved and make new friends through the group.
Locating Common Grounds
You wouldn't think it, but today's youth are more isolated than ever, despite living in a time of unprecedented connectivity.
The young adult population is particularly vulnerable to this “loneliness epidemic.” Building strong relationships with others is an effective treatment. The term “social networks” does not include mindless activities like watching cat videos and scouring Twitter for negative commentary.
The solution lies in nurturing genuine connections with others.
In fact, “social network” technology does not always result in “social networks” in the traditional sense, i.e., strong and supportive relationships with other people.
However, don't fall for it. Just as there are incredible people in the real world, you can find them in online communities.
Since we contribute to their construction and operation, we know this fact. You'll never regret taking the time to learn how to create a strong online community.
Additionally, many people emerge from the experience of substantially expanding their social circle.
Paying Closer Attention
Have you ever had trouble devoting your time and effort where it counts?
The magic, life-affirming, brand-affirming, passion-affirming value that every member of your community receives from being part of a thriving network of individuals coming together to master something interesting or important, together, can be generated by building an online community.
This concentration is a miracle in a world full of diversions where people are too busy to learn anything new.
Transformation Of Character
Having a group of like-minded people to practice and perfect new behaviours with is invaluable. A person's likelihood of making changes they haven't been able to make on their own increases simply by virtue of their membership in an online community. Having a group of people to hold you accountable and provide emotional support is invaluable.
Spreading The Knowledge, You Have Acquired
The ability to teach others is one of the many strengths of a virtual group. This might occur in real-world gatherings or online forums. It's also possible that instructing a class will help.
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A supportive online community makes a difference when finishing an online course. This is especially true when the individual has difficulty seeing through a course crucial to their career, professional development, lifestyle, spiritual practice, health, or wellness.
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Acquiring Expertise In A Team Setting
Gaining proficiency in a skill you want to excel at is much simpler when you do it with other people. The presence of like-minded people on a similar journey, learning from one another, greatly increases the likelihood that they will be able to master something of interest to them. This is true for online courses (above) and the community itself.
Develop A Profitable Fan Base
Perhaps your goal is to monetize your ideas and fan base. It's possible your goals are to expand your product line, improve your customer service, and encourage more people to be loyal to your brand.
You can earn more from each subscriber in an online community than from any other online platform.
The good news keeps on coming if you run a business. The best way to quickly find out what your customers care about, where their interests lie, and what they need from you in the future to remain engaged and committed is to create a community around your brand online.
Bring Together Fascinating People For Stimulating Discussions
While these novel and immensely helpful applications of online communities are certainly worth exploring, they should not be seen as replacing the traditional motivations for which people have been forming such groups ever since the days of AOL chat rooms and dial-up modems: namely, to connect with like-minded individuals in pursuit of common interests (such as sports, media, and news).
However, hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for creators and brands around the world are being unlocked by these new online communities because of their association with membership subscriptions and paid online courses.
Even if you have no interest in making money from your online community, you should keep in mind the newfound opportunity to do so.
You Should Focus On Content Creation Rather Than Discussion
The more people you know online, the more material you'll have for your blog, content marketing, weekly email newsletters, the book you're writing, or the online course you're developing. Being part of a group facilitates your writing by providing you with more material to work with.
But if you get your creative juices flowing when you're alone with your words (and then counting opens and pageviews), you might not find that cultivating an online community is as fulfilling an experience for you as it is for other artists. In any case, participation in a community entails more than just making posts.
The Style Isn't A Good Fit For You
It's not in our DNA to be exactly alike. There are those of us who thrive when we have company. The experience can be exhausting for some of us.
It's fine if the idea of gathering people who are interested in or enthusiastic about the same topic doesn't strike you as motivating or inspiring. You don't have to create a social network online if you don't want to, and if you don't enjoy interacting with other people, you might not enjoy it.
It's important to note that some introverts adore online communities precisely because they allow them to participate when they feel up to it.
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None Of Your Supporters Or Customers Want This
It's possible that some of your patrons or followers won't want or need to participate in a social network. Trying to build a brand community online for a product or service that isn't intrinsically social may be counterproductive.
However, it is important not to jump to conclusions. There is a wide range of potential topics for online communities, from succulent gardening to accounting software.
It's Not Conducive To Your Company's Aims
It's fine if you can't think of a direct way that creating an online community will help you achieve your current objectives. Focusing on the result and working backwards is the most effective strategy. You should use an email list or a social media post if you think it will help you get the information you need more quickly.
Here Are 10 Easy Steps To Create A Thriving Online Group
1. The Key Is To Discover Your “Why”
This may seem like an unusual starting point for a discussion of online community building.
To get started with your online community, ask yourself why you want to create one. Why are you so invested in this community, and what excites you about working with them?
Starting a group can be beneficial in many ways. Some of them are:
- Meeting experts face-to-face to pick their brains and figure out how to improve their skillsets (e.g. a mastermind group).
- Group coaching involves taking a number of clients on an adventure together.
- Bringing together a small group of students to fully immerse them in a subject you're an expert in.
- Making use of the internet to form a group of brand devotees.
- Facilitating a significant online discussion.
- Developing a network of experts in a specific field of study.
- Creating a virtual congregation for worship.
- Here are some additional resources: Eleven Flavors of Successful Online Communities
The more you can define the benefits you and your members will receive from joining an online community, the better.
Putting your plans on paper before you even begin building your community is the surest way to see them through to fruition.
2. Pick The “Big Why” For Your Town
While the first step explains why you want to start a community, a “Big Purpose” explains why people will actually join and use your community. A Big Reason can be Summarized in Three Easy Words. Having your Big Purpose in mind is essential before doing anything else.
The sentence that sums up your life's work is as follows:
I/we assemble to _, _, and .
This is an extremely easy sentence to understand. It's meant to work that way. If you know a few things before you start using it, you'll get even more out of it.
The first person you should get together with is someone at a certain age. The more specific you are in identifying your target audience, the more likely it is that your community will take off.
You can improve your chances of success by targeting a specific group at first, even if the idea, program, or online course you're developing applies to the vast majority of people everywhere. Unfortunately, if you create something to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.
“People running online businesses” is not as specific as “single dads who are starting an online business for the first time.”
Spell out exactly what it is that the group as a whole intends to learn and master. The “to _” part of your Big Purpose sentence is where you spell out exactly what your team of sound engineers, youth ministers, female entrepreneurs, or user experience designers will learn to do.
This could mean learning how to deal with a newly diagnosed chronic illness, practicing meditation to remain calm and focused under pressure, or becoming an expert in your field.
Seize the exciting opportunities that will arise from your presence in the community. Last but not least, you should paint a vivid picture of the potential payoffs for your audience once they have mastered your topic within an encouraging group setting.
This could be as concrete as boosting a person's chances of getting a promotion or something more nebulous, like finding inner calm and presence in the face of a fast-paced, ever-changing world. You want the benefits of being a part of your community to be well-defined and inspiring.
3. Make Use Of Your Personal Experience To Bolster Your Big Why
To set up your community for success, your personal story (or your company's story) is crucial. It's not about how long you've been doing something or how specialized your knowledge is; rather, it's about how you came to care about the community's priority issue and what inspired you to do so.
If you want to inspire someone to join your cause, but they're worried about whether or not they have what it takes to succeed, share a story about a community leader who made a similar transition and found success. That's where your role as a guide comes in, as you tell them how you came to learn and master the subject.
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4. Create A Profile Of Your Ideal Community Participant
This is a topic we discussed concerning your Big Why. The most important thing you can do to ensure the success of your online community is to target only one or two specific types of ideal members in your initial marketing efforts.
Do 30-minute interviews with a few people representing the kind of people you hope to help in your community to begin refining your ideal member. Inquire about their hopes, fears, and motivations concerning your topic of interest.
Examine their past efforts and why they were unsuccessful in learning from their mistakes. Developing an online community around significant issues for your target audience is facilitated by paying close attention to the language and topics in their conversations.
5. Draw Up A 12-Month “A Year In The Life Of Your Community” Plan
What follows is a little-known fact. The more ideal members you meet in person and your vision for the future community crystallizes on paper, the more likely you will see that world come to fruition.
The best way to ensure that your community delivers what its members need and want is to plan for at least a year.
What can a member do a year from now that they can't do now, for instance? To what end did they put in so much effort to bring about this change? What sort of actions did the group encourage them to take?
What did they discover about the company after working there for a year that they didn't know on their first day? How does this relate to the goals your ideal member interviews revealed they had previously been unable to achieve?
6. Set Up A Weekly Schedule And A Monthly Theme
Setting up a weekly schedule is a great way to keep people actively involved in a community (without requiring you to put in a lot of effort). It couldn't be easier. Reduce your workload while increasing productivity by simultaneously doing the same two or three things every week. These weekly gatherings can be planned with the most modern community software.
You and your members will develop a routine with the help of a weekly schedule, increasing the likelihood that participating in the community will become second nature to them.
Then, incorporate the theme of the month into your weekly calendar activities to strike the right balance of habit and excitement that characterizes the best communities of today.
7. Pick Your Medium
It's time to choose a community platform now that you've documented your plan for creating an online community. Many groups have been started in the past decade with the help of a Facebook group. Facebook groups are useful for organizing small groups of friends or large groups of fans (hello, LA Clippers or Stanford University class of 2004!) It's challenging for content creators, influencers, and anyone invested in their brand to grow a loyal fan base in today's digital era.
For this reason, you should establish your virtual neighbourhood in a fresh medium developed specifically for today's artists.
8. Publish Your Neighborhood To The World
You should now be equipped to spread the word about your online community and attract the kind of people you want to join. Recruit a small team of 1–3 people to help you share your email list, online course, or group with the right people at the outset. When you've got your team together, it's time to set a date for the “kick-off” video event, where everyone can meet each other and officially launch the community.
9. Confront Your Anxieties And Find New Ways To Look At Your Problems As They Arise
You can now access all the tools necessary to create a successful online community. However, knowing the ins and outs of online community building might not be enough.
This is an unnerving prospect for many people. Among the most frequent causes for reluctance are:
- But what if I tell people about my group, and they don't join?
- What if I find it to be too difficult?
- But what if people don't have the time or interest to give something they saw on Facebook a shot?
10. Never Give Up And Always Seek New Experiences
Need to recruit more people? If you're having trouble getting people excited about your Big Purpose, consider whether there's a different type of person who would be more likely to get behind it. The next step is to form a new group and conduct interviews with its ideal members. You should do this again.
Do you wish for greater participation from your founding members? The members of your community should be retested to see if they realize the fantastic benefits they will reap from joining.
Then, when distributing the upcoming week's schedule, be as specific as possible about the roles each member is expected to play. At other times, people aren't actually pressed for time. They are completely at a loss for what to do next (even if it seems obvious to you).
The point is that there is always something new to try and discover when creating an online community. Although humans can be a bit of a mess at times, they are also incredible in their own ways.
Putting together the right parts in the right format to unleash a virtual community's full potential.
You now have the knowledge and resources to create a thriving online community. Take the first step and start to build your own online community.
I trust you enjoyed this article on How To Build An Online Community. Would you please stay tuned for more articles to come?
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Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Please leave me your questions, experiences, remarks, and suggestions on How To Build An Online Community in the comments below. You can also contact me by email at Jeannette@WorkFromAnywhereInTheWorld.com.
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