How to Build a Community before it’s Too Late
Do you plan to build a community?
Should you build one?
That’s okay. Let’s answer a few questions to determine your need to have a community or not.
- Are you a business?
- Are you a brand?
- Are you an influencer?
- Are you an organization?
If you answered yes to any of the four questions above, then yes, you need to build a community.
I recently wrote about how Artificial Intelligence could take jobs and how those who fear that can prevent their job from being replaced by some bot. Because of how fast AI is evolving, building a community is more important than ever.
If you build a following through a community, you gain trust and loyalty that no AI program can take from you.
And lucky for you, I’m all about giving away free tips. I will show you how to build a community that will help you win at whatever your business, brand, influence, or organization is about.
If You Build a Community, They Will Come
The only way to build a community is actually to build it. But unfortunately, many people want a community but never actually try to create one.
Wanting and doing are two different things.
It takes an effort to create a community.
But people will want to join if you create a community the right way. But you must see a community as it is rather than a cash flow.
Make Sure Your Community Aligns with Your Vision
First of all, your community should align with the vision of your business, brand, or organization. But that doesn’t mean it should have an objective to make you money.
That’s not what a community is for.
It’s to celebrate your followers and create loyal members, which will essentially be easier to sell to.
So, you can still financially benefit from a community, but the critical function of it should be to develop a network of loyal followers in alignment with your core mission.
Make it Easy to Use and Encourage Participation
A community needs to be built to have the best user experience possible. It should be easy to use without a member taking a crash course.
You won’t get members if it’s challenging to use and doesn’t encourage participation.
Everything is fast in 2023 and beyond. People want to be able to use something now, not three days after learning how to use something.
Your community needs to be simple to use.
Reward Members for Participating
It’s essential to reward your members for their participation in the community.
You don’t build a community and expect people to start populating it. Instead, they need to get something out of it, even more than what a typical community offers.
The reward may be fame. Maybe it’s money or points to get something. Perhaps it’s branded merchandise. Maybe it’s exclusive content. But it should be something worth being active in your community for.
People need to be excited to be a part of your community, knowing they will get something exclusive for participating.
How to Start a Community from Scratch
You might be reading this as someone new to the community. Your brand or space is fresh at that.
Building a community if you’re brand new is probably highly intimidating.
But it doesn’t have to be. There is plenty of advice online to help you along the way. I’m giving some of it below, but I urge you to read other blogs about how to build a community because there is much help out there.
So, this is what you do…
Focus On Few Members Who Fit Your Vision
Start by finding and focusing on a few great members who align with the vision of what your community will be focusing on.
These might be customers who share your stuff online.
They might be other people in your space and niche. They could be industry leaders or leaders in new startups like yours.
Identify these people because they’re what you’ll motivate to help you build a community and get it off the ground.
Get a Community Buy-In from them Through Trust Development
These folks need to trust you. If they trust you, then you can sell them to the community.
You need them to commit to buy-in to join your new community.
What would make you trust them if they tried to recruit you into their brand-new community? What has made you trust other communities that you’re a part of?
You have to gain trust if you truly want to build a community that goes somewhere.
Bring Your People Together in Person (Virtually)
You need to bring your people together in a virtual community.
Some people might use a newsletter as their community, but it doesn’t unite members. You need a community platform to bring them together.
Maybe it’s a discussion forum. Perhaps it’s a chat server. Maybe it’s Slack or a weekly Zoom meeting. You might even invest in community software like Circle.
Whatever it is, make sure the platform brings people together to interact with you and each other.
Why Build a Community?
Build a community to grow your business, brand, influence, or organization. Create a community to stand out in your industry.
The internet business world is vast and highly competitive. So it’s hard to be the top dog in the game.
But if you create a community, you can stand out to members loyal to you because of the community you’ve started.
That’s why you should build a community.
To Support Organic Ambassadors
People will support you organically. They’ll become loyal fans and promote everything you do.
You’ll notice these people when they start to come around.
It’s like getting an ambassador before launching a program for it. They’re organic ambassadors. And you should want to support them and their efforts as thanks for helping you and your efforts.
A community will help support them.
To Give Your Followers a Voice in Your Brand
A community allows people who follow you to have a voice in decision-making.
Or at least that is what it should be like when you build a community. Give people a voice.
Let your community vote on the best option if you want to try something new, but there can be different options for starting this new project. Include them in crucial decision-making.
When you start including your community, you create a real community at that point.
To Create a Networking Culture
Don’t just build a community to revolve around you and your brand.
Build one for the members of the community. Create a networking ability. Enable each member of the community to be able to network and build relationships with one another.
In the early 2000s, when discussion forums were widespread, these communities enabled people to develop friendships and networks. But, of course, the same concept applies to any community you make.
A community should be more about helping your followers than helping you or your brand.
To win at building a community, you need to do it. So quit procrastinating and build a community.
And I don’t feel like it has to be online, either. Look at Harley Davidson’s Harley Owners Group. Most of that community occurs at Motorcycle Rallies and when friends get together for a ride.
It doesn’t have to be online to be a community. But it can be entirely online. Or it can be both.
But one thing is for sure. You have to build a community if you want a community.
And that’s how you go about building a community of your own. But, of course, it won’t be your own at the end of the day. Instead, it will belong to the community, which is how it’s supposed to be. So, if you enjoyed this article and want more tips on building a community, follow me on Twitter today!
About the Author
Shawn Gossman has created content, blogged, ran online communities, and shared a passion for digital marketing for over twenty years. Shawn believes the best way to help content creators, businesses, brands, and marketers is to give away more than you sell. The same advice is recommended for the readers that follow this blog. Shawn also offers a variety of services for extra help in the area of content creation, blogging, forums, and digital marketing. Learn more about Shawn Gossman by clicking here.
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