Are you looking to build a community management strategy for your small business?
The benefits of community building are endless; from creating a “powerful and sustainable solution to heighten brand awareness and build trust and reputation” to “establish the right connections, and lowering the cost of customer acquisition.” (Moz) The rewards are endless.
Entrepreneur Dave Nevogt shares about his experiences building a community for customers and stakeholders and what you should know about the process.
1. Consider the Needs of Others
Building a strong community adds value to your business because it forces you to think about your customers’ needs in order to create content, ask questions and invite their participation. Whenever you invest time in discovering what customers want and need, you gain valuable information about your target market that helps you serve them better.
2. Encourage Conversation
A community is built on a platform that encourages interaction, online and offline. It’s a conversation between customers, and between customers and their brand. A community is an network of active, voluntary interactions. This network gradually builds up an ecosystem of mutual value generation for brands and customers.
3. Tend to Your Community Daily
Have a sustainable post-launch strategy and be dedicated to following it. Community building takes time and planning, and it’s simply not enough to just set it up and hope that customers will come. It’s like gardening — you don’t just plant a seed and walk away. You have to care for it a little bit every day and support its growth.
Treat community building as a long-term investment in your customer base, and plan roles for leaders, moderators, and content contributors before launch. Then make sure you’re following through with content calendars, and constantly ask your leaders and moderators how they’re serving customers.
4. Engage on Their Terms
Have set rules, but don’t be dictatorial. Make sure you have standards for community discussion, but don’t stifle conversation if it goes against you. Meaningfully responding to criticism is a great way to engage customers and show them that you take their feedback seriously.
If a number of community members are consistently exposing your weaknesses, own up to them instead of trying to cover it up. Apologize and show customers how you’re improving. As long as the conversation doesn’t turn abusive, you have to be willing to engage with the community on its own terms.