A community is nothing but just a group of people who are related to one thing in common. We are all part of different communities because of our interests, demographics, surroundings, or anything that significantly impacts our lives. Communities have always been important politically or for any economic or significant societal change, but societies have become unexpectedly popular in the marketing industry. Now communities are not restricted to physical or local forms- they are all over the internet. And these online communities are becoming crucial to companies’ digital marketing campaigns and customer experience.
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What does it mean?
The idea of an online community might seem a little odd. Usually, communities are made in person- through a meetup or a social event. But how do online communities exist, and how can a group of people who have never seen each other or don’t know each other from the real-life trust each other and help a customer make his decision and influence a company’s market presence?
An online community is essentially just a Facebook or LinkedIn group- it fundamentally is- sometimes, but that is not all. It is usually people with shared specific interests- passionate or related to something in a close manner. Moreover, there are branded communities that are the real reason for the importance being given to communities.
Branded communities are online communities but managed and organized ones with rules, regulations, and a particular set of ideas. Being driven and controlled by an organization is the salient feature of a branded community.
An example of such a community would be an organization that would build online to connect your members, customers, employees, partners – whoever the community’s members might be. For this, the companies can use online community platforms and not regular social media platforms because they are more community-friendly as they are specifically made for it, and they provide-
More options for control
A community created on social media or open-source solution is always subject to any of the platform changes. They get no say in effectively building their house on rented land.
The dedicated online community platforms keep privacy at the top of their priority. However, with Facebook or LinkedIn, you can’t do much to protect your group and members’ privacy and even your information.
More access to data
If you build a social media group, the platform gains invaluable data to generate information and stats about your members and customers. In contrast, you do not get access to that data yourself. On the other hand, if you create your online community through a community platform, you will be the one who will have access to all that data, helping you understand your users and creating a personalized experience for them.
If you use an excellent community platform, e.g., Higher Logic’s, your solutions will access the built-in engagement tools. These are specifically designed to help you create an engaging experience for the audience. There are even more such tools that have varied benefits.
Why are they important?
These communities play a huge part in customer or member experience. They break down the traditional one-way exchange of information & open up communication to deliver increased value.
A community helps members build connections and meet trustworthy and like-minded individuals. You can meet and talk to new people, and that might lead to long-term associations as well. A relationship among the individuals as well as with the organization is built.
Customer experience better than the competition
A community helps the customer through all types of problems and makes him/her feel heard and respected. In this way, the overall user experience gets elevated. A company without community can beat out competition from companies with the community in terms of customer experience.
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Communities help you get organic leads- the people interested in a particular type of product/service might reach your community while getting answered for his queries regarding the product and might get impressed by the help or the response provided.
When you build a community- you get a database of feedback, questions, requests, and suggestions at your helm, and you can use them to get your answers as an organization. You can save money on external research and get the opinions of genuine customers from your community. This will help you bring changes, new products and solve old problems.
A system of referrals
A community is also a platform for your promoters- the company’s advocates- you can leverage them by using a referral system in your community. This will reward them and keep them active, and you will experience automatic growth.
Growth of organization
With excellent customer experience, organic leads, product research, and an excellent two-way dialogue between the customer and the organization- the community helps the organization or the business grow and reach the next level.
What makes a community great?
A community is crucial for a great customer experience. Still, building and identifying a well-functioning society is the question- you can look for the answers for the same in the type of activities that occur. Ideally, a community should be built for engagement. A great community should have a particular shared purpose, but it should have an open and varied discussion channel that should be vibrant & multi-dimensional.
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An online community is somewhat but not entirely like an offline community. It is not like a social media group. A well-structured and well-moderated community is member-focused, has solutions to few sets of rules, and helps members with all sorts of questions and problems.