Probably the greatest strength of the internet is bringing people together. Whether it’s about travel tips, computer games, movies, or trading advice, an online community site can help connect people from different parts of the world having similar interests.
Creating an online community can be a powerful force in the corporate world as well. Companies like H&R Block, Harley-Davidson, and SAP have created vibrant online communities to build brand image, generate leads, and promote their products.
If you are thinking about creating an online community site, you will find these five tips for building and maintaining an online community site valuable.
Select the Right Platform
The foremost thing that you should do before creating an online community is to determine the right platform. You have two options:
- Free online platforms such as Google+, LinkedIn, and Facebook
- Customizable online platform
The problem with free online community platforms is that they are literally set in stone. You have limited control over the design and functionality of the community site.
For more control over customization of the community site, you should select online platform such as JoomSocial. This plugin is compatible with all version of Joomla and provides a lot of customization opportunities. You can create customized activity streams, group events, video galleries, and more.
Types of Online Communities
Once you have decided on the platform, your next task should be to select the type of online community. You can create an online forum, picture, and video sharing site, recipe sharing site, or public blog site.
The type of online community you build depends on your objective of setting a site. Answering the following questions will help you determine the type of online community that you should create:
- Do you want to connect your customers together?
- Do you want to create a self-help community?
- Is your aim to promote your products?
- Do you want to advertise on the online community site?
- Is the aim to increase the brand image, create brand advocates, train employees?
After you have selected a platform and setup an online community site, you need to create guidelines. The guidelines should be easy-to-follow and understand. It should create rules that must be followed by the online users. It can be in the form of text, infographics, or video. The purpose of creating guidelines is to keep the online interactions positive and on track.
Hold Live Webinars
Regular webinars provide a chance to showcase your products or services to the online users. The webinar can also be informational providing valuable insights regarding a particular topic. You can also ask the community members to share their stories and experiences. This can be a powerful way to create deeper bonds with the online users.
Monitor the Online Community
You need to closely monitor the online community to ensure that there are no conflicts. Consider removing negative comments or addressing them in an appropriate manner. You should also ban community members who violate the rules mentioned in the guidelines.