Your Business’ Online Community

Your Business’ Online Community

More often than not there is now a need to ensure that your online community following is rewarded, acknowledged, and to an extent ‘controlled’ so that you can effectively manage your online persona.

Here are some handy hints as posted on

1. Identify Business Objectives
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Same with your business, your online strategy should have goals and objectives that you want to achieve. There is no point pouring money into your online community if you do not know what rewards and benefits you want out of it. As more and more customers go online with their feedback, complaints and as an avenue for spreading good news, it is important that you have the necessary resources to engage the community. Thus your objective might be to supply customer service

2. Emphasize Being Personal
People like dealing with people. Nobody likes being on the phone to a voice recorder, nor do they want to feel like they are being sent out generic and automated responses to their feedback and/or complaints, and simply people just want to be heard. Machines can’t hear your customers. For this reason, simple things that can portray you are human and not just hiding behind an avatar is very important – complete your profiles, including pictures for example, and provide the resources to respond to all the inbound inquiries with a human touch.

3. Create a Culture of Belonging
Create a cult like following. The feeling of being a part of any community gives humans a sense of pride. This dates back to prehistoric times where it was important to belong to a tribe, and it is no different now. What benefits, rewards, or acknowledgement do you provide to your community to show them that they belong?

4. Be a Source of Relevant Content
Content is King. Once you are providing information that your online community is interested in via Smlog’s, you will become their number one go to source for things related. Dan Zarella from Hubspot has identified that individuals want to be the first to know, in the know, and find it soothing coming from an expert. Demonstrate that you are a professional and expert and you will soothe your community all over.

5. Leverage the Wisdom of the Crowd
Work smarter, not harder. Leverage off your community to provide answers to questions that others may have. Provide reassurance and input your advice where necessary but let your community do the bulk of the work. There is nothing better than to feel like an expert, or to help someone. If you give your community members this opportunity they will grasp at it. Don’t forget to provide the praise.

6. Highlight Influential members
Give credit when credit’s due. By tapping into the 95-5% rule, if you lead the more influential members in your community, you have a stronger ability to shape the rest the way you want. Follow the leader, peer pressure, call it what you want, but it definitely works. Control the head and the body will follow.

7. Reward Members in Pixels, Not Pennies
Match apples with apples. People are turning to the online community for resources, so it is only fair that the ones providing the resources are paid in a currency that is translatable online. Show your appreciation by sending them recognition that others can see and that they can brag about.

8. Establish and Enforce Guidelines
Uphold the law. In every social community there should be guidelines on how best to interact with others, what is acceptable behaviour and what actions are not tolerated. There should also be a list of consequences of breaking any of these rules so that the community knows why (if they overstep the boundaries) they have been removed from the community or had their privileges revoked.

9. Give Members Privileges
Start a VIP Club. Very important people get very impressive privileges and that is how you should be separating your online community as well. Once you reach a certain status (which can be achieved in many ways), VIP members should receive extras such as more and better offers, extra content, or access to special events. Receiving special treatment also taps into the human part of the brain that screams “exclusive” – especially if they are the only one amongst their peers. A great example is the competitive nature in location based apps such as Foursquare and the novelty of checking-in.

How have you been utilising or making the most of your online community? Do you even know how many followers you have? Which of them would follow you blind-folded into a vicious battle? To ensure that you have all of the above points covered, it is important to look at the data your business may or may not have. This is where social analytics and social CRMs come in.

If you want to learn more about Social Media Marketing, E-Web Marketing can show you exactly what you need to drive more traffic and leads to your website.  Your consumers are your clients – and at E-Web Marketing your clients are effectively who we want to be looking after.

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