Updated on February 25, 2021
Exchange stories at networking events. Ideas to trade on a cup of coffee or tea. Get to know the person behind the screen over a shared meal. These once-popular activities now live in our memories – and in our hopes for the future.
To be honest, communicating directly with audiences, prospects, and customers was limited even before the pandemic made them impossible. Smart brands have worked hard to create communities where digital versions of those interactions are commonplace. The pandemic has only made them more important.
Nearly a third (32%) of B2B Marketers surveyed by Content Marketing Institute in 2020 has online community. Of those who didn’t, 27% said they planned to create them in the next 12 months. Among B2C Marketers surveyed in the same study, almost half (48%) have an online community, while 31% of those have no plans to do so for up to 12 months.
As CMI’s community manager, I’ve learned that the way we design our digital neighborhood plays a huge role in how our audience experiences the brand – and the community becomes. How exciting should it be?
The way we design the digital neighborhood plays a huge role in how our audience experiences the brand – and how vibrant the community becomes,” said @MoninaW via @CMIContent. #SocialMedia #CommunityManagement #CMGR Click to Tweet Stay away from cookie cutter neighborhoods. To start or strengthen a community, you must distinguish Your team.
In this post, I discuss the elements to building a great community and share examples from brands that have successfully conveyed a sense of connection online.
Table of Contents
Put your audience first
Have you ever surprised your neighbors with their favorite cookies? You are a good neighbor. Not only will you interact with your neighbors, but you’ll also do it in a way they’ll appreciate. A successful online brand community uses the same approach. Trademark audience research to understand its culture, then operate the community with the best interests of the audience. That approach builds relationships of trust.
For example: Forks Over Knives Facebook Groups
Forks Over Knives is a franchise that evolved from a movie into a series of books, application , and a website on plant-based eating. It created an inclusive Facebook community, reinforcing its mission to support members’ interest in eating whole, plant-based foods.
Brands that focus the community on topics Its customer-interested and offers members open access to brand experts. It has established itself as a trusted online resource with a strong following of 335,000.
Keep them interesting
A good online community acts as a social rallying point. Members want to come back again and again. The brand’s mission is to keep things interesting. A dedicated and educated community manager can be an asset in facilitating the conversations that audiences crave.
Example: Buffer Community
Buffer developed a community of over 4,000 members on Slack, then moved it to a private home in 2019. Community activities (open to Buffer users) include discussions. Weekly Mastermind community. Members trade strategies, tips, and monthly “CommuniTea/Coffee” Zoom meetings that include discussions supported by a community member. Twice a year, members can sign up for six months as community server, welcome new members, work on special projects, drive discussions, and more.
Provide the opportunity to share
Just as good neighbors share a glass of sugar, so do good members of digital neighborhoods. They become de facto leaders and influential people , giving their time and knowledge to others. They also anticipate the needs of the team and encourage open communication.
For example: Nokia Website-based forum
If a member seek advice , Nokia community members will help and provide common fixes. If the community has an idea for a future product, the brand will launch a message board with suggestions. Members feel certain that they can solve problems on their own. That confidence boosts team satisfaction.
Go where your audience is
Choosing a digital home for your community can be difficult. Consider letting the audience choose it. It is very convenient to collect in the places they already are and there is no need to engage in a new way of learning.
Example: CMI on Slack
As the CMI community grows, so do the needs of its members. In face-to-face interviews, audiences said they wanted more activity on Slack. Since we introduced our Slack community in 2018, our members and activities have grown. We picked our first Community Host, Jeremy Bednarski. We held real-time discussions around our online ContentTECH event in August. We threw a Super Bowl ad-watch party during the big game earlier this month, then followed. Conduct a series of head-to-head voting challenges to find the ultimate winner. (You can find out which ad won here.)
We continue to drive CMI activity on Slack via email and social media. If you are interested in a invite , tell me. If you join early, you’ll be able to join in March CMWorld Book Club hosted by Emily Phelps, head of the CMI Slack community.
Community is a shared space. Good neighbors show respect and courtesy, and so do members of online community groups. Set rules that allow your community to work towards a common goal. Post rules to make it easier to manage groups and moderate chats.
Example: Step into the spotlight! On Linkedin
Group rules in Step into the spotlight! The LinkedIn Group sets the standards for how communities operate. They do not include pitches and are not self-promotional. Members expect relevant discussions that showcase the expertise of the community. Setting these expectations (and executing them) allows the team to have a thriving community.
If your team is valued and fun, members will naturally want to strengthen their relationships. Determine how to make those connections. For example, we held face-to-face sessions at Content Marketing World to bring our #CMWorld Twitter Chat community together. When in-person events are possible again, find ways to help your online community find each other IRL (in real life).
Example : CMI Live
While it’s not possible to do in-person events, find new ways to make your community feel like they know you (and you care about helping them). CMI recently introduced a number of live shows that allow our community to ask the CMI team questions, gain insight into #CMWorld Twitter Chat guests, and learn from some of our brightest contributors. our creation.
Don’t forget cookies
Just as kind neighbors thank their neighbors with their favorite cookies, brand communities can also create some surprises. CMI has been known to give digital thanks for birthdays, promotions etc and even a surprise letter or two to our community members.
Even if you don’t have the cookie budget, you have the tools to build your brand in a neighborhood that your audience loves in a way that will entice and engage them in a format that will resonate. respect and trust. And that’s the recipe for online community success.
Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute