Should Your Company Launch An Online Community or Group?

Do You Need to Create An Online Community?

An online community is a group or network of people who interact with each other virtually. When speaking about online communities, we are referring to communities and groups such as Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and Slack channels.  Communities are extremely popular, and their popularity is increasing with time. 
 
But what makes these online communities so popular? The answer is simple. These communities have the potential to offer immense business benefits. Some of these benefits of online communities include the following:
 
  • Drive brand awareness
  • Build brand loyalty 
  • Increase sales opportunities 
  • Generate leads
  • Collect customer reviews and testimonials
  • Provide continuous customer 
 
With the myriad of benefits that these communities provide, you may be wondering: Do you need to create an online community or group for your followers, fans, and clients, and will the Return on Investment (ROI) be worth the effort to invest in a community? 
 
You need to determine whether or not an online community is a great move for your business and  if it will add to your overall business strategy. If you have determined that the ROI is worth the added effort, you now need to start thinking about where to create this community, and what  your focus should be.  
 
I’m sharing some great tips to help you determine what type of group to create based on your business and the steps to take in order to get started.
 

The Different Types Of Online Communities And Groups

The first step to creating an online community is to decide the type of online community you will need to create and the platform to launch you will be using.
 
You need to determine whether or not your community will exist within a private space such as a business website or a public space within a social network such as Facebook and LinkedIn. 
 
The focus here will be communities within a public space as these are easy to create.   With that being said, there are three (3) types of groups to consider launching.
 
The first type of group is a free group for your followers/fans. These are great for podcasts and other media outlets, personal brands, or a public figure.  You can use this group to make important announcements or even talk about the type of content that you are releasing.
 
The second type of group you should consider is a free group for your paid clients. This will allow all your paying clients to connect with each other. This type of group can be centered on a particular service that you offer and anyone who bought that particular service can be added to that group to discuss any benefits, uses, or experiences. 
 
This can actually be an added bonus in addition to the services you provide. This type of group is excellent for businesses that offer some type of product or service. 
 
The third type of group is a free group to generate new leads. This is an amazing group, and it is ideal for businesses that intend to run paid ads. This type of group is a bit more costly to operate especially if you are trying to grow your audience quickly. 
 
This group is used to build brand awareness and relationships to attract new people that are not using your services.  In order to grow your audience, you may need to runs ads to that group or have affiliate partner campaigns within that group in order to build brand awareness and trust. 
 
The main purpose of this group is to turn your cold audience (those who do not know who you are but have an interest in buying your products) into a warm audience (people who know who you are, and trust you and interested in buying your products). 
 

5 Steps To Create An Online Community/Group 

Step 1: Know the purpose of your group. You need to have objectives in mind in order to be effective and efficient. Without a clear purpose, you will be unfocused and inevitably waste resources. You need to ask yourself the following:
 
  • What can your audience expect? 
  • What are the benefits your customers will receive from joining your group? 
  • Why would they join your community instead of another or just being somewhere else?  
  • What does success look like for your company when hosting a group? (i.e. an increase in members, increase lead list, sales, or engagements)
 
Answering all the above questions will help you to determine why you should start a community and give you clear goals to move forward. 
 
Step 2: Decide on the type of content you plan to deliver.
Determine the value and the experience your members will be getting. How will you show that you appreciate them for being a part of your community and that they are special? This can be accomplished by providing added bonuses, discounts, new releases, or sneak peek into products or services. It’s all about serving the people who have chosen to spend their time with you.
 
Step 3: Schedule the frequency by which you plan to share and interact with your community.
How much do you plan to engage with your audience?  Creating and developing new content can be time consuming.  But here’s the thing.  Come up with a schedule for dropping new content and COMMIT.  Be consistent in how and when you show up. This is how you build trust, and people buy from people whom they trust.
 
Step 4: Decide who will manage your community.
Who will be engaging your community? Will you be engaging with your audience yourself, or you will have someone doing engagement on your behalf? This may be the time to hire a Virtual Assistant if you are a solo entrepreneur. If you already have a team, then decide which staff member to delegate this task to.  Attack with a plan of action in order to build relationships. 
 
Step 5: Choose a platform. 
Here are a few of the most common options: 
•        Mighty Networks
•        LinkedIn groups
•        Disciple Media
•        Facebook Group
•        Slack Channel
 

Groups are all the rage.

Community groups are becoming extremely popular, and more and more businesses are creating online communities for their followers, fans, and clients. But don’t just create an online communities because they are popular. 
 
Take a look at your overall strategy to decide if starting an online community will benefit your business.  Know this, though. People are craving real connections and relationships now more than ever so this may be the best time ever for your business to fill a gap and serve within this very capacity. 
 
And be sure to Join my community the SweetLife Entrepreneur & Business Community App: https://sweetlife-entrepreneur-business-hub.mn.co/ (free for life when you join in July 2020).  
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