There’s a lot to be said about the benefits of belonging to a community. However, with a busy lifestyle, the concept of community is not quite the same as it once was.
Now we have online communities have as a way to interact with others who hold similar interests without us having to leave our home or participate at any set time. For many, this new evolving concept of community is a comfortable reminder that you are not alone in whatever niche interest you may have.
So let’s say you have a product, service or particular niche interest you want to promote. One way to do this is to create a branded community platform to connect to your loyal and passionate fan base.
Your first inclination may be to make the community all about you. That is where many brands make their mistake and end up struggling in their attempt to build their own successful niche community. Instead of stumbling through the process, a better plan is to follow these 10 steps.
1. Keep Focus on the Customer
Avoid the mistake of providing content about just your organization or product. Know your customers and create content about the members of your community. Keeping your audience in mind, stick to platforms that they are familiar with.
2. Money Follows Passion
Your niche community should be about a passion that your fans care about. You then can structure your community around that purpose. The trend is towards smaller, more targeted categories called micro-niches. Instead of marketing to teens; you could target male, South-east Asian teenagers with an interest in Korean Pop and a family income of $50 000 plus. Targeting software companies is too general; targeting California-based companies that provide forum software with sales of $20 million or more is ideal.
3. Don’t Overlook Your Existing Base
Don’t start with the set idea of attracting new customers. The purpose of your online niche community should be to deepen your relationships with your existing customer base. Then encourage your members to spread the word about your community and invite new members.
4. Designate a Community Manager
You must have a least one person who will be responsible for overseeing your online community. It is not necessary for this position to be full-time at first. Pick a logical candidate from your organization who is involved in member management or with your marketing functions. You may also want to consider recruiting this position from your member base - a passionate fan who makes an ideal ambassador.
5. Get Your Members Involved
The community manager’s first responsibility should be to recruit moderators for their input on building their community. Allow the members to take part in shaping the goals and core elements of your community. However, make sure that you have outlined clear rules of engagement that reflect the values of your brand.
6. Put Together a Group of Early Adopters
What good is your online community if the first time a new member logs in and sees very little activity going on? Involve your early adopters in creating activity before your community goes live.
7. Small Goals - 30 Days to 100 Active Members
To be successful, you are going need to focus on retaining your new members. Set a goal to achieve 100 active users within your first 30 days of going live. Through active participation, these initial members will attract new members who are observing the activity and wish to also participate.
8. Encourage Offline Engagement
It’s great to be able to have an online community for members to connect, but don’t forget that most people still thrive on actual face-to-face contact. Encourage members to publish and share information for activities where members can get together in person. This could include trade shows, regional association meetings or engaging members in volunteer activities.
9. Keep Members Informed
Your online community is where you should release your latest information first. This will help encourage a faster and greater rate of adoption. Make sure your community has easy access on your community site to the latest announcements, news about your industry or calendar of events.
10. Be Consistent
Once you start your niche community, it is important to remain consistent in your efforts. This means keeping information up-to-date, providing timely content that is relevant and of interest to your membership.