Many think establishing an online community is costly and time-consuming. However, never before has it been so easy to create a community for support of your business objectives.
In order to get started you should know three things: proved practices of building and managing online communities, technologies for powering your community and social behavior online.
For a more detailed plan consider the following 10 steps.
Specify your business objectives you want to be supported by the community. Include those relating to marketing, sales and customer service. Don’t forget to define the resources required for the campaign’s success. Map out your actions for at least the following 3 months.
- Team Building
To build a team you need a Community Manager, an executive sponsor and employees. Though your Community Manager is going to managing your community the most time, hiring an executive sponsor along with recruiting co-workers for participation are critical to your success.
- Platform Selection
Many community attributes will depend on the technology provider of your choice. To make the right decision on the community platform, make sure it provides a great UX, handy setup and administration and easy access to your community analytics.
- Community Development
At this stage the most important thing is to understand the features driving real engagement into your community. Incorporating the branding guidelines into the community is also worth your time.
For a start you should recruit around 20 members you think will make active participants in your community. They can be employees and existing customers passionate about your products.
- Driving Participation
The Community Manager at this stage should seed community activity, drive engagement and participation by daily posting of content, questions, comments etc.
- Initial Engagement
Email newsletters are a good option for inform first members of key interactions and latest activity as well as motivate them to join the community.
- Collecting Feedback
Collect some qualitative feedback from your initial members to identify specific driving the community value and those in need of improvements.
- Reviewing Results
After a couple months it’s consistent to review your achievements to measure the membership growth, real participation level, content relevance and sufficiency etc.
On completion of the previous 9 steps it’s time to bring your community to the awareness of a larger audience and reach out to prospects, employees, customers and partners.
With the above 10-step plan your online community is ready to set off for success!
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