The ABC’s of Online Community…

Dec 05, 2013
Jason Baumann

online community

“Community” is one of the biggest buzzwords in social media today. Have you defined your online community? Are you engaging your community members? What steps are you taking to grow your online community? Who is your community manager?  Today we jump into the online community and are going to help you understand what it all means. Welcome to the ABC’s of Online Community.

First of all, what is an online community? An online community is a group of people with a common interest that are using the Internet and social media to communicate, work together and/or pursue common interests.  An online community is a virtual place where like-minded people or individuals with a common interest can interact. If your passion is social media, an online community is a place where people discuss social media, post information about social media, and work toward a common goal. An online community can consist of social media pages, blogs, discussion forums, video sharing sites, etc.

So why an online community? Suppose your interest is the Telomian. There are very few people who know what the Telomian is. There are probably less people who have ever seen one. In fact, there are only a small number of people who know they exist. The Telomian is one of the rarest breeds of dogs – a breed originally bred by the Orang Asli indigenous people of Malaysia. Not many of these climbing dogs have escaped their natural habitat, but there are a few around. Online communities have the power to unite people around the world with the most specialized of interests. For many businesses, success online depends upon the successful building of online communities.

Building and engaging an online community takes a community manager. A community manager is someone who knows the Internet and social media platforms as well as the community they are engaging with. Using technology (social media platforms, etc.), a community manager can lead the community and position your business as a leader or reputable service source.

So here are the ABC’s of Community Building…

  1. Activate an Audience – Communities are nothing without their members. So the first step of community management is gathering and activating an audience. This audience is a group of like-minded people with a common interest. For a business, this audience is a part of or your entire target market.
  2. Build a Community – Building the community refers to putting together a technology structure or social plan to engage the community. I am referring to how the community will share information. Will it be through a discussion board, blog, video blog, Twitter feed, Facebook page, Google Hangout, etc.? You must also build a strategy for promoting your services/product to the audience.
  3. Create Compelling Content – Compelling content is the only way any social media plan or e-marketing campaign will work. People have learned to ignore traditional advertising. It is quoted that 90% of people skip advertising on DVR’ed television programming. On YouTube, we count down the seconds until we can “Skip this Ad.” So by creating quality, compelling content, we will attract our customers and position ourselves as industry leaders.

An online community is potentially the most successful strategy an e-marketing professional can implement. While many of my blogs speak about specific platforms, online communities are often made of a variety of platforms working harmoniously together to educate, engage and motivate your audience.

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