Creating a vibrant, loyal, and vocal online community is one of the most important steps you can take in driving brand loyalty and engagement. . As we’ve previously discussed, an active online community acts as an incubator for new ideas, deflects customer support tickets, drives brand loyalty and facilitates personalized marketing opportunities, and more.
But in this article, we’ll be getting a bit more targeted, and discussing specific strategies you can implement in creating your online community for maximal impact.
Divide Your Forum Into Relevant Sub-Niches or Categories
This step is critical, and carries multiple benefits. For one thing, human beings naturally compartmentalize the world and everything in it. Our online community involvement is no different.
Let’s say you operate an online vinyl record store, and you’ve recently decided to set up a forum for your customers on your site. By organizing your forum around different genres, or artist varieties, or even decades, would increase community engagement.
Setting up your forum this way would draw your various members to different areas according to their unique tastes. They would interact with like-minded people, and have a smooth, positive experience associated with your brand.
Because the underlying psychology is the same regardless of your exact niche, be sure to implement this strategy no matter what you’re selling.
Have a Team Member In Charge Of Starting High-Interest Threads
Most forums allow members to start their own threads and conversations, and you should too. But you should also have a Community Manager in charge of starting high-interest categories, based on insider knowledge of your industry, community analytics, and marketing goals.
For instance, imagine you have a new product coming out in three months, and you know that large swaths of your customer base have been eagerly awaiting its release. The three month mark would be an ideal time to launch forum conversations about it to increase the pre-release buzz.
Remember, the key to this hugely effective tip lies in knowing what will generate the most forum posts. Naturally, open-ended discussions and high-hype topics are best for this purpose. '
Reward Productive Community Members
Human beings love the feeling of exclusivity, and the prestige it holds. But you know what we love even more? The feeling of having earned our exclusive privileges and benefits. This tip offers you a simple way to capitalize on that basic psychological fact.
There are numerous ways you could achieve this in your forum. For one thing, you could make each post worth a certain number of “points” toward each individual’s account. Once they’ve earned a certain number of points for their contributions, they can gain access to exclusive areas of the forum, or exclusive mailing lists, etc.
Just make sure that the “rewards” you offer your high-contributing members are genuinely enticing. A bit of forethought and creativity goes a long way here. Take a look at how you could gamify your forum here.
Dedicate a Section of Your Forum to Your Industry’s Future
People love to discuss the many possible futures of the things they care about. Capitalize on this by devoting a section of your forum to the future of your industry, or various aspects of it that are likely to impact your customer base in the future.
The important thing is to facilitate conversation at all costs. Conversation is the lifeblood of forums and online communities in general. Get people talking, and keep them talking.An online community carries all sorts of benefits. The challenge lies in figuring out exactly how to facilitate and grow your community. Follow these 4 strategies, and you’ll be well on your way to a vibrant and quickly growing online community in no time.