How to Build an Online Community for Your Business

Online Brand Communities Boost Fan Engagement

It does not take a wizard to realize that SEO is constantly evolving. The keys to business success these days are adaptability and agility. The power of social media and online communities cannot be ignored. Rather, building an online community around your company and brand is now a requirement for successful SEO.


The Benefits of Building a Community

The most obvious benefit is that it will help you to maintain or improve your Google search results. By creating a community around your business, you are placing the focus on your company and brand instead of simply trying to conform to Google’s ever-evolving algorithm. The algorithm will reflect the trends and direction of brands that are truly creating phenomenal communities and user engagement. Let’s face it, if you build a strong brand following, no one can take it away from you, not even Google. (Although I would not test that theory very often) Another benefit to community building is that it clearly defines your company’s purpose and provides an “Excalibur in Stone” goal for everyone you employ.  Each member of the team must step up and prove their worth. Creating a brand community needs to have a cellophane strategy for your team. What is the purpose behind it? Why are you doing it? What do you hope to gain? Whom is it going to help? A well defined, and easy to follow strategy is the key to reaching the goal and extracting the sword together. When you create an online community, it forces you to do things that will engage your customers, and provide better service. Creating informative content and relevant resources to improving products, processes and systems within your company, establishes the character of your company. In doing this, your efforts will add value to your Brand as well as attract new customers into your community.

The Nuts and Bolts of Community Building

The first step to begin building an online community around your brand is to define your business goals and objectives as compared to the competition. It is important to identify your unique selling proposition; what sets your company apart? What really makes you care about your business and not give up? Whatever the answer, that is your passion, and the thing that drives your company forward. It is important because it differentiates you from your competition, is contagious to those around you upon whom you depend, but even more importantly, it is the center of your story.

Identify your Vision

Make a list of the things that you are scheduling for the next 12 months such as product launches, events, staff additions, or changes…while defining short and long-term goals. Who is your online community audience? Organize your audience into groups and give those groups faces and personalities. What is important to them? What are their fears, challenges, hopes, and dreams? What problems are they looking to solve? Focus your community building efforts on the audience you identified and do not try to appeal to everyone. “Everyone” is not your customer. Target your efforts for results that are pure and require less effort. Selecting the right team is crucial to achieving your goals. There will be many different activities that happen, so understanding and defining roles is very important. Choose team members with talents that complement each other. Try to pair different talents to find the kind of chemistry that excels your expectations, such as insightful researchers with original voiced writers, master developers with creative designers.

Typical team roles for building an online community:

  • Project Manager: Oversight of the entire project Keeps everyone on task and on schedule.
  • Content Writer: Someone who is a great  communicator with an original voice
  • Designer: A visionary graphic designer that can create whatever you need
  • Community Manager: The person who represents the company on social media sites A person who will monitor the sites and manage others who work and participate in the online communities Someone with an outstanding online presence and easy personality
  • SEO Professional: Someone who can optimize and leverage the content and handle all research and analytics while monitoring performance of keywords and content
  • Email marketer: A skilled email marketer that can coordinate, design, and develop responsive email campaigns with a professional touch
  • Researchers: People who enjoy reading and learning about your company’s industry and are good at locating news and information that would be interesting and helpful for your community The finders of that which no one else looks
  • Promoters: people who are experts at creating relationships with key influencers A personable entity of the sort that people tend to want to please
  No matter what size your company is, social media depends on people with a passion for your brand. Do not simply assign a team or tasks; find people who are passionate about social media and being part of an online community. They will be worth their weight in gold because they understand what online community members really want, what attracts them, what holds their attention and how best to build relationships with them.

Create your Strategy

Know what you want to do, when you are going to do it, and most importantly, how you are going to accomplish it. Holding people accountable is crucial in getting things done on time. Make sure you empower your team to do what they need to do. Involve them from the beginning. Tie building the online community to company goals. Encourage them to learn how to use it effectively and remind them it can be fun and educational. No doubt, they will meet some very interesting and cool people along the way. It is important to help your team and company grow their industry knowledge as well as their company knowledge. Knowledge gives a company the nudge to be more creative, innovative, and agile. Agility and the ability to adapt at the drop of a hat are crucial when dealing with social media websites, each with a unique personality.

Create Community Value

The last step is to create value for your community. This means providing foundational, community building content. Foundational content is static information on your website. The content on your site should take into account your customer needs, challenges etc. that you identified way back at the beginning of the process. Foundational content must be customer-centric, even though its primary function is to promote the brand. Community building content is dynamic and changes to fit the needs and interests of your community. This is creative, highly relevant content that delivers information in an interesting way that makes your community want to share it. There is the real benefit of community building; by sharing the content, it gets broader distribution and attracts more customers into the community and to your site for greater conversions. As long as you stay focused on your customers, your online community building will grow and build your customer base. Always make sure to acknowledge and appreciate your team and your online community of customers. Let them know you appreciate them. In the end community-building creates and strengthens internal relationships and relationships with customers. It pushes your business forward and helps it to grow.