Have you ever thought about building an online community? Is the idea attractive, but don’t know how to get started? Following the “Why, How, and What” format from Simon Sinek, we’re here to help you get some answers and get started on your online community for good!
The Decisive Question – Why?
To find answers we have approached our customers and asked them, why did you decide to build an online community? Among many answers, the three most common and important were:
1. To Communicate with My Customers
Every businessperson knows that communication is the basis of close contact and excellent relationships. Accordingly, the type of platform that you most often see is the Customer Community platform. Using a Customer Community platform means that people who want to be connected with your brand are included in the product development and service optimization journeys. The benefits are twofold: you get invaluable insights that you can use to improve your business, and your customer feels that you value their opinion, increasing the mutual trust and respect.
To illustrate better how a Customer Community can improve your business, just look at the ‘SolarPlaza Network’. Solarplaza is a pioneering enterprise that has organized over 70 events in more than 25 countries in just 10 years. What they have been doing has advanced the field of solar and renewable energy through the global market. How does their Customer Platform help them further their cause? For one, it connects more than 8 000 professionals across the globe. Their Customer Community represents the primary digital hub that connects their members from around the world. The solar and renewable energy movement owes a lot to this Customer Community!
2. To Learn From My Customers
Gaining customer insights is the goal of numerous businesses. Cue the second type of platform, the project-based Insights Community! This is a place where you collaborate with customers to collect valuable information. The Insights Community is a perfect platform for organizations with research as the first priority. If you implement incentivisation, like rewarding contributions with points, badges, and coupons for real-life rewards, your community will thrive and grow beyond the limits of your current audience. A good example of an Insights community is Consuminded, a platform managed by Branddoctors Dialogue. Another example is Profacts, who went superbly and, to quote them: “getting over 4000 contributions from just 100 community members felt amazing!” Read the whole story here. How do they utilize Insights Community? They ask their members to respond to questions and surveys on how they use certain products, and convert the responses into valuable implementable data for their clients. This neat little tool returns information quickly and in overall increase the rate of engagement. Nice!
3. To Establish a Place for My Group to Create
And what about people who want everything packed into a neat little package of insights + communication wrapped up in a form of a social network? The third answer to the big question is a “free form” of a social network called Private Social Network. A social software designed to put an emphasis on members who share a mutual interest and the relationships between them, Private Social Networks implement modules, widgets, and tools to create an engaging and dynamic online community. The main benefit of Private Social Networks is the amplified efficiency at a lower cost. Gathering insights, testing new methods/products, and discussing opinions on niche-related topics, is easier for members, who can share relevant content and discuss on a higher level than your average social media user. Think of it like a sort-of think tank. Just for you.
The Practical Question – How?
So, you’ve decided why, and you’ve made up your mind about online communities. Now comes – how? How can you build an online community? Again, we’re here to help you get to the best answer for you. Obviously, you need a community platform. But what kind of community platform do you need? You need to choose what aspects do you wish to include to customise it for your needs. Here is what you can choose from:
1. Types of interaction
The initial choice is to think about which interactive modules you would like to use. Reflect on your answer to the first question – why? – and pick those that would suit the purpose of your online community. To promote discussion among your members – host a forum. To encourage brainstorming sessions – launch a challenge. The combinations are endless: everything is at your disposal to find a perfect match for your needs.
2. Tone of voice
What kind of relationships do you want to foster? Formal or casual? Friends or colleagues (or both)? Everything depends on your target audience and the unifying idea of your community’s specialisation (or lack thereof). Perhaps you already use a certain manner of speech and tone in your marketing and PR. If that is the case, the logical next step is for you to implement that same thing in your community. If your brand identity doesn’t apply in this case, observe your target audience. When you spot that certain tone, maintain it through your platform. Remember, you are providing people with the platform – it is their needs that you want to fulfill.
3. Private, open or hybrid?
Another vital step when it comes to forming your online community platform. Based on your target audience, you can decide if you want to keep your platform open to anyone, keep it private with invitation-based membership, or try to find some middle ground, usually by requiring a form of registration before revealing the content.
A big role in your Community can be gamification, if you decide to go for it. The concept of gamification essentially boils down to rewarding contribution to your community. Rewards in the form of points, badges, and titles can massively contribute to motivating members to engage in activities that are beneficial for the whole of your community. Add some real-life awards, and your community can swell to an enormous size!
The Final Question – What?
What do you need to achieve what you have envisioned in your answers until now? This is where CMNTY Platform steps in. We have tried our best to allow our platform to be an all-in-one solution. We’ve come to empower thousands of communities with our software. Feel free to start a trial to get acquainted with our platform. In the meanwhile, consider this
1. Feature selection
CMNTY Platform comes with a plethora of features. You might want to use all of them, but you might also need just a few. Check out the comparison list between plans with an easy overview of your package and the features that come with it.
We’ve built our pricing model with every budget size in mind. For example, you can start with a model with low entry level that allows your platform up to 250 members. As your community grows, your platform can grow along. Once you require more slots and more features, we can upgrade on the go. It’s that simple!
3. Planning + Kickoff
When making plans, don’t forget to pay attention to your internal processes as well. Keep in mind: The more effort you put into your community, the more your members give back. We recommend doing an internal kickoff for your community before you go live and out in the open!
Why, how, what. You have all the answers you need to build an ideal Online Community. The answers may change. The questions may become more specific in certain details. But the basis is there. And we are ready to help your ideas come to life.