It seems ages ago now, but in January 2007 my sister & I created a simple community consisting of forums, a blog & a file cabinet. That experience has evolved into a study of social networking, brand building and community building.
Here’s a summary of the basic premises every community manager should keep in mind. And companies that are creating communities should also realize their importance.
- How can you ensure that your community will be successful?
- Identify a need and provide resources to fulfill it.
- Build a community around that concept.
- There needs to be a lifestyle affinit
- How do you make others aware of the community?
- partner with related sites
- provide meaningful information
- How do you identify those that need your product/service?
- by listening to online conversations & utilizing tools
- I’ve been using Google alerts since Oct 06 & acting on them
- My day job is with Techrigy SM2 and we have a free version
- Monitoring social networks as well as web analytics is imperative
- Why will people return?
- to learn more about the product
- to get their questions answered & discuss niche related items
- How do you get people to link to your site?
- it’s human nature to want to help each other, so they do it to be helpful
- if you have resources that others find helpful then they will link others
- How do you build interest around new product releases?
- know your customer segment(s)
- what interests them? what types of activities do they thrive on?
- we held events such as chats (our ladies loved real time chats), offered prizes, celebrated niche specific events
And probably the most important realization that I had:
- Why will people want to buy at your site?
- if people find value in the information and resources they will want to support you
- time is of great value to many & if your site demonstrates extensive knowledge then people will want to purchase the product or resources
In the community that my sister & I created at DigiScrapInfo.com we started with no expectation of a business model. We later added the affiliate program because our community appreciated the resources so much that they asked how they could support us. People sincerely wanted to make sure that we were compensated if they purchased.
My blog and site are another example. After less than one year people were offering me work opportunities. When I started this blog I never had any intentions of monetizing it, but it happened in a subtle way. Even though I have a full time job now people still assume that I do contracting work. With the recession I can connect those seeking positions with employers who read my blog. The job sourcing and mentorship is free as time permits because that’s how I can give back to my community.
My focus is on helping you create opportunities for yourself no matter the size of your community whether it be a blog, forums, small business, or a company.
If you are a company that is creating a community you should have a business case. But it will be much more successful if the focus is on providing information and resources first and realize that sales will be a natural progression. That will be a subsequent benefit after realizing many other benefits such as positive WOM, increased brand visibility online, etc first. It’s about establishing a presence based on giving back resources for what your community needs and establishing a relationship with them.
What have I missed?