No online business is an island. The fact that you’ve placed a business on the Internet means you are out to gain a substantial amount of followers.
To be a successful online entrepreneur, you need to acknowledge and reward your followers. You also need to manage them effectively to maintain their loyalty and protect your brand’s credibility.
But how do you manage the online community for your business? Check out the following tips.
First, always keep your business goal in mind
Do you have a solid goal for your business? Or are you just going with the flow? Running a business without a plan is planning for financial ruin.
One of the greatest goals you can ever set for your business is always to provide value for your audience.
Create activities that support this goal. Make sure that everything you do for your business puts your audience first. How can you satisfy their needs? What are your plans for addressing their complaints and inquiries?
Strive to provide a service that is always personalized
One of the reasons people agree to become part of your community is that they trust you and feel some sort of human connection with you.
As humans, people feel most comfortable dealing with other people. Everybody hates to deal with machines that do not acknowledge or express human emotions. We all have a real need to be understood — and even to be felt.
So when you establish a business presence online, be sure to put a name and a face on that social media profile. Let your customers know you are there to connect with them.
Always make your customers feel they belong
Another enduring human trait is the yearning for a sense of belonging. Being part of a community gives us a feeling of pride. And when people feel great about belonging to a community, they’ll protect it fiercely.
That’s why, when you make your customers feel they belong to a solid community — by constantly providing them with value, rewards, and acknowledgements — they will perserve their loyalty to you at all costs.
Be generous about providing relevant and high-value content
One of the best ways to win your community’s loyalty is by providing relevant and extremely valuable information … and being generous with it.
If you continuously strive to present solutions to people’s problems, they will tend to be on the look-out for more stuff from you.
Make your followers feel they are hanging with an industry expert, not a company that only tries to make them reach for their credit cards.
Present opportunities for members to help out
Don’t hoard all the opportunities to provide solutions. Remember, you are hosting a community where every member may have something significant to contribute.
If someone has a question, don’t hesitate to ask your community to participate in answering it. People love to help, and if you offer them opportunities to share information, members are apt to be delighted to do so.
And when they do help someone else solve their issues, you should openly acknowledge them.
Recognize prominent members
If you try to run your community alone, chances are you may burn out. You run the risk of abandoning your community.
One of the best ways to keep your community alive and kicking is by recognizing influential members who might be interested in helping you run it.
Keep an eye out for people who actively participate in discussions and talk to them about becoming a community administrator.
One of the most powerful ways to win points with others is by openly recognizing them for their achievements.
When you recognize your stars, other members will strive to give their best and gain some of that recognition too. You can promote a healthy competition among your members, and keep the community bustling with great ideas.
Promote a sense of community, not anarchy
Most online communities have at least some guidelines for members to live by.
To maintain a friendly and productive atmosphere, devise some rules about how everyone should communicate and share information. Set some guidelines regarding which types of discussions and information are allowed, and which are banned.
And when you do lay down those rules and regulations, be sure you’re the first one to uphold them.
Give out privileges to members
Another great way to make people love your community and stay loyal to your brand is to make them feel important. It’s a great idea to give out VIP privileges to deserving community members. VIP privileges may include free stuff, access to premium products, lifetime discounts, or unlimited access to special events.
Most people are thrilled by a sense of exclusivity. By implementing special privileges for a select few, you will get your entire community scrambling to become part of the exclusive VIP club.
Running an online community shouldn’t be a chore. It’s should be a fun endeavor. While your ultimate goal is to nurture customers for your business, you need to ensure that your members don’t feel they are ever being sold out.
Make them understand they are part of a genuine and thriving community where their needs will be looked after.
By establishing a community, you are building a pool of friendly prospects. Make sure to provide value to them and nurture them, always. Don’t be overly promotional. Be sincere in your dealings with them. As an entrepreneur put it, “Strive to make people happy first. Financial rewards will just flow naturally.”
If you are running an online business and would like to know more about how to manage an online community effectively, we have a wide range of social media marketing services for you. Contact us and we’ll show you your options.