Top Tips For Being Part Of An Online Community
We often talk about online communities within our posts, however we never have taken the time to truly define what participating in one means which is why we crafted this piece which provides our top tips for being part of an online community and why that could be advantageous for your business.
At the heart of online communities is the idea of being ‘social’. Each platform in essence is a community made up of a wide range of people and personas; participating as part of that digital community can have a profound effect on your online brand.
Why you need to be part of communities
There are a few basic reasons that you need to take the time to participate with online communities:
- Quality Market Research – Online forums are a treasure trove of consumer information. Complaints, appreciation, feedback and ideas are all there straight from the horse’s mouth. The people that take the time to participate in an online community are often very invested either in a particular field or as a core demographic which makes their feedback some of the best you can get.
- Credibility – Public relations are all about being interactive with your customers. Participating in an online community and helping them with problems and issues is a great way to show your audience on a personal level that you are invested and engaged with them. You can also provide experience and expertise which then shows that you not only care but are a credible source of knowledge.
- Increased Brand Awareness – When you participate in discussions and conversations you are spreading your brand. If your focus is helping, teaching and engaging (not selling) people will respond positively which helps generate quality brand awareness.
- Industry Knowledge – Forums and communities are a great way to learn about a particular subject and learn about breaking industry news. You might think you are on top of things but by being in a community you will truly be in the know which helps when crafting plans for future products, new ideas for content and even marketing ideas that will resonate.
Tips for being part of communities
So now that we have the why out of the way let’s focus on the how. How can you be a positive participant in a digital community? This is important to understand because as we have been taught by those who approached communities the wrong way, your efforts and credibility can take a nose dive if communities think you are just trying to use them for sales.
- Join a Limited Number of Communities – Avoid jumping in head first into every community you can find. Instead look for communities that your target demographic will frequent and start slow. Join a few top groups in a month and gradually build up your presence. Think organic growth rather that focuses on developing better, stronger relationships rather than giving limited attention to lots of groups.
- Avoid Link Spam – Far too many people pop onto groups and try and sell products or link back to sites and content. Most forums have rules against this type of activity and also it won’t net the results you truly want because you were be labeled as a spammer/seller which is not good.
- Participate Regularly – If you want to be part of the community that means posting, commenting, and following up on threads and discussions on a regular basis. Carve out time in your daily or weekly schedule for the communities so you have the time needed to review and respond as not only is this proper etiquette but in the long run will pay dividends for your marketing and branding. After all, if you want to showcase knowledge and expertise you need to be online to answer questions.
- Pick Discussions Carefully – Much like only joining a few communities, you also need to be picky about which conversations you join. As your time is limited, look to focus on those discussions that will have high engagement. These active discussions will expose you to more people and increases overall engagement. If you aren’t sure what types of discussions these would be look through highly commented discussions in the forum to get an idea of the pulse of that particular group. Just make sure the quality of your responses is high so that you stand out. You need to be unique, interesting and insightful to make a name for yourself online so that people will want to stop and pay attention when you are posting.
It is very valuable to be part of an online community. Not only can you learn a lot but you can also help promote your brand in a positive manner to build awareness and showcase expertise. Using our top tips for being part of an online community is a great starting point but your ultimate success will depend on the effort you are willing to put into it.