Scaling a small business comes with its own share of challenges. And an online community adds the midas touch of online presence that gives your business more recognition.
Apart from this, be it innovation or service improvement suggestions, it’s crucial to have true brand advocates and a reliable group in your corner who can help you dodge the many battles of entrepreneurship.
But here’s the real challenge – you need a plan of action for engaging your peers, especially when your operations are completely online and you are not face-to-face. What should you do to seek fresh ideas and offer diligent support to your users?
The answer is online communities.
Online communities serve as an outlet for your small business to connect, engage, and build solid relationships with employees, customers, and partners. With that said, let’s take a look at some more reasons for small business owners to get their online community up and running.
4 Reasons Small Businesses Should Go Online via Communities
Statistics show that nearly 64% of community visitors[i] reported they were visiting community platforms more often now. Also, 46% of users said that communities have become crucial to them.
Communities are the most ideal means for entrepreneurs to engage with users and win their trust. Here are four reasons for small businesses to create an online community:
1. Establish an Online Presence: Research suggests that 85% of consumers rely on online testimonials and reviews to make purchases[ii]. And consumers who don’t trust your brand will never convert into customers. Online communities are a boon for creating a stellar brand presence and generating more awareness about your products and services. By incorporating useful content in the community in the form of videos, demos, blogs, etc, you can attract more users and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
2. Create a Unique Brand Voice: Creating an online community for your small business enables you to give your brand a voice. When communicated effectively, your community carries the ability to speak volumes about your company’s ethics and the quality of services. In addition to creating a collaborative network for your brand, communities empower you to be part of every conversation about your brand by responding to the users in real-time. This establishes a personal relationship between you and your customers.
3. Personalize and Elevate Customer Experience: Online communities act as ambassadors for your customers. They are a great medium to gain deeper insights into their expectations from your products and services to deliver true value for their investments by considering their requirements.
4. Experience 2X ROI: In an increasingly digital world, you get an opportunity to connect with a much wider audience and even identify your brand advocates. Your brand advocates can play an integral role in amplifying your marketing efforts with their word-of-mouth activities to get high-quality referrals and boost brand awareness.
Irrespective of the size, organizations with online communities experience higher returns on their investment, a boost in brand loyalty, and meaningful interactions with customers. With more than three-quarters of users engaging on at least one community platform in 2020[iii], any brand without an online community is missing out on valuable opportunities to grow.
What Should Small Businesses Look for in Online Communities?
Of course, there are social media groups that entrepreneurs can leverage for assistance. But the key here is to create a community that’s active, safe, and empowers you to achieve your business goals.
Here’s what you should look for while building an online community:
- Business Relevance: Ensure that your online community is in alignment with your business goals and objectives. The more relevant the content is, the more the users will relate to your products and services.
- Moderation Practices: Online communities are an outlet for audiences to connect with each other and help each other. But you, as a community owner, must ensure that the conversations taking place in the community don’t go haywire. For this, moderating community activity is of utmost importance to monitor community engagement.
- Active Member Participation: Active member participation is the nucleus of online communities. It’s what makes them vibrant and trustworthy channels of engagement. Gamification elements such as leaderboards, ranks, and rewards that motivate users to participate amplify customer experience, and improve CSAT.
Remember, the internet is a virtual medium that is driven by visual appeal. So, ensure the design of your community is engaging and in alignment with your brand’s identity.
Online communities serve as a network for the customers to ask questions that they might hesitate to ask otherwise and seek support conveniently. These also provide small business owners the opportunity to share stories and market their services and products by making them stand out. Through communities, small businesses have a voice of their own which empowers them to create a market standing and boost ROI.
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