How to Build an Online Community: 10 Community Growth Tips

What is one tip for building an online community?

To help you build an online community, we asked marketing experts and community managers this question for their best insights. From identifying what your users need to prioritizing one-to-one interactions, there are several recommendations that may help you create a successful online community in the future.

Here are ten tips for building an online community:

  • Identify What Your Users Need
  • Utilize Brand Ambassadors
  • Establish Community Rules and Guidelines
  • Use Branded Community Platforms For More Control
  • Identify and Onboard Key Influencers
  • Choose the Right Platform Based On Specific Factors
  • Create Instagram Reels Or Live Videos
  • Have a Clear and Concise Mission for All Members
  • Reach Out to Similar Communities On Social Media
  • Prioritize One-to-One Interactions 

Identify What Your Users Need

It’s important to evaluate what your users really want out of your online community before you start working on it. Are they looking for information, insider knowledge, an opportunity to meet like-minded people, or something else entirely? Most users look at online communities to develop a sense of belonging or a new way to learn and grow. By studying your audience and learning more about their interests, you can fine-tune your strategy to develop something that suits them perfectly.

Demi Yilmaz, Colonist.io

Utilize Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors can create as much buzz for your brand as influencers without breaking your budget. Your loyal fans can create user-generated content that generates millions of free impressions for your brand while building your community significantly. Consumers today love connecting with their favorite brands online and promoting them on their social media channels. And ambassador programs enable your most enthusiastic fans to speak for you as they talk about their love for your company and your products. These loyal customers typically receive perks like a welcome kit of brand products, featured reviews on social media, and a chance to host giveaways. And in return, they help your business extend its reach. Ten ambassadors raving about how fantastic your new product is to 100 people will grow your community by 1,000 new potential customers.

Jason Sherman, TapRm

Establish Community Rules and Guidelines

Rules and regulations govern any thriving and active community, and an online one shouldn’t be any different. Trolling, spamming and abuse can hinder the growth of an online community which is why it needs guidelines that deter these actions. The guidelines should outline acceptable behavior and topics of discussion. They should also describe a complaint and resolution process and what the moderators can and can’t do. A community should provide a safe place free from discrimination and harassment, so it is essential to have rules. They create an ideal online environment where people can coexist.

John Tian, Mobitrix

Use Branded Community Platforms For More Control

When people consider building an online community, their first thought is to use social media platforms as their vessel, however, those have significant drawbacks, and why it is a good option to instead use Branded Community Platforms. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, while being free and having the advantages of inter-service searches, do not provide you final control of the site, meaning that ads and other messaging can become a distraction. Branded Community Platforms such as Thinfic are operated solely by the owners in which they can grant access, post any content, and be in complete control of branding. In addition, distractions that are prevalent on free platforms are absent from Branded ones. By creating a strong community through the Branded route, you can develop your group to best serve the needs of your members and your business.

Zach Letter, Wonder Works

Identify and Onboard Key Influencers

Your plans for building an online community will gather even more momentum when you have key influencers on board. Even as you’re laying the groundwork, begin identifying potential promoters in your domain who play the role of influencers. This way, you will be able to gain their input on the best approach to help build a platform that can hit the ground running. And their existing network will help you create a community that boasts of a greater reach.

Larissa Pickens, Everfumed

Choose the Right Platform Based On Specific Factors

Know your audience and select the right platform for them. Think of it as their home and ask yourself, “What is the goal for creating this community?” and “How many people would I want in it?”. Platforms that favor group chats like WhatsApp, Telegram, WeChat, and Instagram, should be used for smaller communities. We’ve all experienced how overwhelming big group chats can be. For bigger communities go for Reddit, Facebook, or Discord. You may also want to take regions into account. Instagram, Discord, and Reddit are widely used in the US and Europe and are considered to be more universal platforms. Whereas Whatsapp dominates in Latin America and the Middle East. China’s go-to platform is WeChat. Lastly, listen to the audience. Once they’re truly engaged they may have great insights on how to better everyone’s experience within the community. A true win-win situation.

Nicole Ostrowska, LiveCareer

Create Instagram Reels Or Live Videos

Consider creating Instagram reels or live videos to build an online community. This is a great way to show current and new followers tips and tricks or how-to videos for a specific industry. For example, a creator can highlight how you should change your skin routine from winter to spring in this video, and answer common questions in the chat. Posting these videos consistently will build an audience over time.

Natália Sadowski, Nourishing Biologicals

Have a Clear and Concise Mission for All Members

One great way to build an online community is by having a clear and concise mission for all members. This could be something as simple as promoting a common interest or goal, or it could be more specific in terms of the type of community being built. Either way, having a unifying cause will help bring people together and foster a sense of camaraderie that can be difficult to create otherwise.

Anfernee Chansamooth, Simple Creative Marketing

Reach Out to Similar Communities On Social Media

A tactic I have used in the past is to reach out to similar communities on social media and connect with the owners. We approached Facebook groups on the same topics our communities covered and offered the owners of these groups to become moderates on the same topic in our community. This benefited them, as it gave them another platform, other than Facebook, where they could host their community, and gave them additional reach. It benefited us as they promoted the new platforms to their community and it brought in a big influx of new users. This won’t work for every existing community; you will have to work to find interested ones. A tip is to look for ones that don’t have any other website platform, they are only using Facebook, these types will likely be more interested in a website to partner with.

Max Peters, Technical SEO Consulting

Prioritize One-to-One Interactions 

If you want to build a community online, then you are going to need to prioritize one-on-one interaction. The online communities I have truly felt part of (as well as the ones I helped get started) are those where individuals reached out to me directly to start at least one personal conversation. This small effort, replicated effectively, and then encouraged to be done by others in the community, can make all the difference in the world.

Dylan Miller, DSM Story Forge

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