How to build an online community?
Your community is your business, the community is customers enjoying your services.
For example, a grocery store depends on the community surrounding it for profit and the community depends on the grocery store for its food supplies.
The online business is not different, the only disadvantage is not having the physical proximity to be noticed by the community.
Getting the online community to notice you is the most challenging issue for every online business!
Without consumers there is NO business I’m sure you already know, customers are the most important part of any business, show me one product with no customers to enjoy it, and I’ll show you a broken dream.
It is easy to say you need to have customers to have a business, and you must have a community to find customers.
What can you do?
You can use paid advertising to reach your targeted audience but, what is a targeted audience if not a group of people with common interests, a dictionary definition for a community.
What if paid advertisement is not with in your budget? Or maybe your budget is too small for your growth needs?
You probably know by now, the answer is building your online community.
How to start an online community?
Like any other community, to gather a group of people you need a common interest for the audience to engage around, or in other words your niche or area of expertise.
Engagement is the keyword here, how do we initiate the first connection or interaction online between strangers?
With no physical location in which they “bump” into one another and if the encounter occurs because of a shared interest there is a high chance they will interact, and maybe even connect and share recommendations for that interest.
In the physical world the streets and roads around the business location is the gathering spot where you can reach your audience.
This gathering spot also exists online. We call it search engines or social media, when you go online there is more than 90% chance you start your exploration on one of these platforms.
When you think of Google, Bing, etc. stop thinking “Search engines” and start thinking “Internet GPS navigator”, navigating the users to a location contains the answer to his questions.
How does Google know what questions you have the answers to? You need to tell it!
Google search AI crolls to every URL it allows on and looks at the content it shares, So if you want Google to know what your expertise is, you need to share your knowledge.
Articles, blog posts, video or audio (AKA podcast) there is a place for every type of content but, the content should be great! Put yourself in your audience shows or even better find a friend who has the interest you are focusing on, see if the content contains the right added value for the energy it takes to consume it.
You can call it the magic formula for internet virality but it sums up to the simple definition for good content.
You should take the time to address the value you share online for free. It is the key for reaching the audience, a content without consumers is like a car with no fuel, it is an amazing machine but there is nothing to make it go, basically, the car becomes useless.
Creating the right content for the search engines to explore, and drive people who are searching for answers in your content, sounds easy right? Well, if you manage to make it easy contact me immediately we should talk business… But, till then, you should know there is a lot of technical knowledge you should possess to make it happen, and it also comes with hard work.
For the technical part I recommend using online SEO experts. I’m sure you can find one to fit your budget, where you should look? Well, where do you go with every question? Google, but you know it already.
As for the hard work part, well, that’s on you! Arranging the knowledge to an easily consume content sounds easy, you should start right away, you will find it extremely challenging, at first, don’t worry, it will become easier.
If you start right away, you stumble into the first issue, content ideas, what knowledge is needed in your niche?
If you search the question online you will find that most people rely on technical solutions around SEO, well they are definitely right that is one way to address the issue but, in the end of the process you still left with an educated guest, another way to address this issue is by asking.
Ask the community what knowledge is missing and they would like to consume.
Where to find the right content ideas?
The community has that answer, where is your political community gathered? Social media.
And the list goes on.
The best advice I can give for those of you who don’t know how to start or those of you who haven’t done it yet, join an existing community with some common interest to your audience.
Someone already gathers some of your audience. Your content will reach the right people at the right time and you only need to be an active member and contribute to that community, after you impress some of them ask their help to reach other people your content can help, some of them will help :-).
Once you are active in the overlapping existing community, the conversation and interaction with the audience will help you understand what type of knowledge is missing and create your content around it.
Centralized social media platforms will help you get the ball rolling but the audience you attract needs a place to gather around else they will go back to their main community.
To help address this issue RiTribes engagement tools will help you build the surrounding infrastructure to build a community around your content or product.
After the infrastructure is in place and you will start to attract your first community members, the interaction with the engagement tools will form your community.
To summarize it all, go to an existing social group, become a member of that group, start posting links to your content, duplicate the process to as many communities you can be active on.
If it doesn’t work at first adjust your content with feedback from the community and keep doing the same process.
Good luck, it is hard work but, it’s worth it!