In our final installment of the community building mini-series we’d like to cover the tools that make community building possible.

You should know that it’s completely possible to build a community with very simple tools but this can be a tedious and time-consuming process which is why we recommend investing in premium tools if you want to supercharge your community building efforts.

In all, it will come down to your ability to access your community on the regular. You’ll also want ways to handle reputation management for when things get out of control (or spike in your favor).

So … let’s get to it.

Start with these (if you’re going for the long-term)

In our previous post within the series titled ‘Long-Term Strategies for Growth’ we covered some of the most powerful tools for keeping members on your website.

These included:

  • Forums
  • Membership Areas
  • VIP Email Lists

We’d highly recommend that you give either of these a shot if you plan for the long-term as they will be some of the most crucial tools in community building you’ll put your hands on.

The social angle

Social will become one of your best tools for building and managing a community because that’s where they are and that’s where they’re active. Relying just on RSS, like the old days, isn’t going to cut it especially since one of the major services, Google’s RSS feed reader, is now dead (but there are some alternatives).

Either way it’s on these social platforms where you can kick up discussions, you can get them to share your content, and it’s where you can keep in contact so you don’t let them slip to the competition.

We’ve compiled a list of four different social networks, tools, and how to use them through the following links (they’ll give you everything you need to know about using them for traffic and community building):

Start that email list

On the classic side you can go the route of email marketing … as in building a list. Of course you don’t have to use the list as just a way to sell products and services – you’re always welcome to use it as an extension of your website which gives you a direct connection to your subscribers.

By offering great content through your email you’ll retain your community, that’s subscribed, and thus bring them back to the site to find more information (and, of course, share it).

The list, if you treat it much like a membership section of your brand, can be immensely powerful for building relationships with your community members. It really is one of the best options you have when building a community.

To get you started – have a look at some of our posts on the topic:

Robust comment and feedback system

The pre-installed comments section of your blog may be great and all for basic purposes but there are new and exciting commenting platforms that allow individuals to link their social accounts, keep track of their interaction, and even build a reputation within the systems.

You may want to consider revising your comment system with one of the following:

Keeping it simple (but streamlined)

Personally, you can streamline this process of community building, using tools, if you simply make a routine for your efforts. You don’t have to go overboard buying every program and subscribing to every service just to gain an extra follower here and there.

What really matters is that you take the time to befriend and interact with your core community. Build a solid base of 100 true followers and you’ll have more than enough momentum to grow from there. Use the tools available to you to make the process as simple as possible and use the time you’ve saved to spend more of it on the people.