The internet is a black hole of niche communities just waiting to suck users in. From knitting hubs to cooking forums to places for sports enthusiasts to verbally duke it out over their favorite teams, there are groups for every interest imaginable. .
So, what separates your brand from competition? And how do you keep people coming back for more? I’ve put together a list of four ways to keep your community active and thriving.
Make It Unique
What can people get in your community that they won’t find anywhere else? If you don’t know the answer, then your community’s in trouble.
Understanding how you fit into a consumer’s life is the first step in building community value. BeautyTalk is the online community for cosmetic and beauty powerhouse Sephora. Of course, members come to the site to stay up-to-date on the latest beauty trends, but the retail brand doesn’t stop there. They offer opportunities to win amazing prizes through engagement-driven contest.
The brand is currently promoting its ‘Tis the Season #Sweepstakes. Users are asked to share a festive photo on The Beauty Board and tag a product that could be used to create their look. This encourages brand loyalty and, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs.
Listen More Than You Talk
For an online community to be successful, managers must be open to diverse opinions and willing to implement good ideas. By ignoring customer suggestions, you’re overlooking an opportunity to streamline your processes and improve retention.
Many companies use surveys, market research studies, and other expensive tactics to gain customer insights. If you’ve cultivated an engaged community, you have access to the same data…for free!
Keep an eye out for patterns in customer suggestions. I encourage you to make a list with two columns: one for small, easy-to-implement ideas and ones for suggestions that will require more work. Include notes on how these changes will improve the business and/or customer experience.
Give Them a Taste of What’s to Come
Are you adding an awesome new feature to the community? Or planning an amazing Christmas giveaway? Share teasers with the community to get them excited for what’s to come.
Harley-Davidson’s H.O.G. community is focused on building relationships both online and offline. A large portion of the site is dedicated to promoting live events and driving brand loyalty.
They also offer unique opportunities for H.O.G. members to meet other riders and interact with the Harley-Davidson brand. This month, the brand is hosting a demo of the latest motorcycles in Long Beach, California. This constant connection between the online community and live events keeps users engaged and actively returning to the site for more information.
Don’t Avoid the Tough Questions
Not every interaction you’ll have on the message boards will be pleasant. In fact, most of you have probably dealt with an unhappy customer. And for every customer who bothers to complain, there are 26 additional customers who’ve chosen to remain silent.
Since conversation threads are viewable to the whole community, a quick reply with a problem-solving approach can have a ripple effect. Positions your brand as one that will take on the tough questions will make it a go-to resource for new and long-term customers.
According to customer service expert Ruby Newell-Legner, it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. So resolve those negative experiences!
Stay on top of questions and complaints. And build trust with your customers so they know that when they have a question, they can find the answer on your site.