Online communities can prove to be a highly effective tool for marketing. The ROI that these communities can generate is immense. Businesses can use these communities to get more people to know about their brand, build trust in the industry, and eventually turn them into paying customers. Also, they let brands control how people talk about their products and services, ensuring that false information doesn’t hurt the value of their brands.
There’s no shortage of community-building tools available to businesses. Whether you’re just a startup with a limited marketing budget or a well-established organization, there are plenty of tools that make it much easier to launch community-building initiatives that help elevate the status of your brand.
Five top tools to use for online communities
1. Community forums:
Some of the largest brands across multiple industries operate their community forums worldwide. The forums serve as a sort of meeting place for fans of the company, who can learn from the experiences of others and ask any questions they may have about the products.
Community forums are also great for finding solutions to problems since people often help each other out and give tips on how to get the most out of the products. Discussion forums also happen to be one of the oldest community-building tools. Back then, forums were only text-based, without any multimedia functionality. Many tools for discussion forums are easy to use and let you add videos, emojis, GIFs, and more.
2. Live streaming on social networks
Live streaming has become widely utilized for fostering communities and retaining member interest. Online video content does very well, and customers often use live streams to decide what to buy. The evidence speaks for itself. More than 8.2 billion hours of content were streamed live in the third quarter of 2021. This number is projected to increase even further.
This platform has the advantage of not requiring the purchase of any additional tools. Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube, among the most popular social media sites, are all free to use and offer the most popular live streaming services. Create a free brand page and begin live streaming on one of these services.
3. Email marketing tools
It’s easy to believe that email marketing may not have the relevance in 2022 than it did before, but this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Email marketing remains one of the most popular ways to build a loyal community. The ROI on email marketing is also considerably higher compared to other methods.
Popular tools like MailChimp and ConvertKitcan supercharge a brand’s email marketing efforts. They make it possible to capture emails through opt-in an lead-generation pages, which is a great way to grow the email list. Similar tools also make it possible to segment and tag subscribers and set up automation for email campaigns while also providing detailed stats to help you get the most out of email marketing.
4. Facebook Groups
This is another excellent option for businesses that may not be able to spend much money on their marketing efforts. Facebook is free to use, even if you’re a business, and Facebook Groups are a powerful tool for creating communities of highly engaged members. Since this happens to be the world’s largest social media network, the groups on Facebook tend to see a flurry of activity. According to recent studies, approximately 1.8 billion people use Facebook groups every month. The potential here is endless.
Make the loyal fans and customers who join your group feel valued. They will be the most vocal advocates for your products. Use the group to provide exclusive company access, whether through interactive sessions with critical decision-makers or sneak peeks at new products. Businesses can get far more reach for their posts in groups than for their pages.
5. Dedicated app
While this may be better suited to more established businesses, given the costs involved in creating a full-fledged app, a dedicated app is one of the most potent community tools with incredible growth potential. There’s far more control over the user experience in your app compared to that of a social network.
The business can offer the features and functions it thinks are best for its customers. For example, the app can also provide exclusive deals and discounts on products unavailable elsewhere. This ensures that customers always purchase directly through the mediums provided by the company instead of going through a third party. A separate app can only include more social commerce features that fully tie the customer into the brand’s ecosystem.
Why every business should build a community
There are benefits to communities beyond customer retention and increased sales. People inherently want to be part of a community or a tribe. They appreciate the feelings it evokes. In the case of businesses, it makes them feel that they have a voice and can influence how the company they love to patronize operates.
This gives a business a lot of room to grow, as long as it knows how to reach out to the community well. It’s not just about increasing sales or keeping customers coming back for more. Businesses must also listen to what their community is saying. Whether it’s negative feedback about a marketing campaign that didn’t work or useful suggestions for how to make their products better.
It’s supposed to be a two-way street. Take the guidance and criticism you receive from community members in your stride. Ensure that they feel heard and that their legitimate concerns are addressed. Learn from their experiences to see how your products and services can be improved. Keep communicating with them so that they remain engaged and feel the product of supporting a company that they feel emotionally invested in. Such potential is difficult to replicate through any other medium.