Community Building 101: Long-term Strategies for Growth
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The first step of building your online community is finding the right people.
Next comes the challenge of keeping individuals within your community.
The hardest part will be when you want to grow, as a brand.
Community building is just as much about the long-term potential as it is on the short-term gain.
You should go above-and-beyond with your efforts every time you set out to interact and build your community.
A. VIP Email List
Everyone has been on an email list at some point. They usually start off enjoyable but then start to go downhill because you lose interest (or it’s just that not everything is relevant for your needs).
A general email list is great for keeping community members up-to-date with new information and offers. You can go one step further and segment the list based on those that have taken action.
But … What about going the ultimate step and creating a VIP list of a select few?
You could use this selective list to release premium information that may not have been well received by your general community. A continuous supply of great value on this list, along with giving the sense that they’re in the inner-circle, boost the interaction and will lead on to higher conversions.
You could get a start with this by manually preening through your community to find possible applicants, getting in touch, and setting it all in motion.
Services to consider:
Forums can be a wonderful addition to your website because it gives community members a hub to discuss topics, share their expertise, make friends with fellow members, and all-around build a presence within your community.
Your forums don’t need to be massive in scale to be effective for their purpose. All that’s truly required on your part, besides the setup, is keeping active. You will want to keep conversations running and moderate the forum so things don’t get too out of hand; doing this dedication will certainly keep people coming back on a regular basis.
Here are a forum software and plugins to get you started:
C. Members Area
Similar to forums – you could consider using a members area on your website which grants exclusive access to premium information, discussions, and freebies.
You’ll often see these rolled-out on product and service-related domains but you could certainly integrate them on your site if you take the time to plan and structure something of value on the backend. You could technically charge for it but a smart move may be to leave it open and take applications – you won’t get all your community in the members area but it will certainly weed out those that aren’t as dedicated.
Software and tools for this:
Things to Consider
All these social media tools you’re probably already using are great and all but there’s a lot of noise and chatter associated with the platforms. The items listed in this post cuts down on all these distractions and creates an ecosystem for your community that builds on itself.
Yes, these options will come at a premium but keeping community members active and involved will be well worth the price. You’ve worked hard to get where you’re at – don’t let it slip.