Build an Online Community Now
You should build an online community now.
Why, you ask?
Because the robots are about to take over the world! And when they do, you’ll be replaced by a smarter, more good-looking, and better-dressed machine.
The world feels like a science fiction novel right now. AI this, AI that. Artificial Intelligence has been around for a long time, but lately, it has become a trend now that technology is advancing in favor of it.
Let’s be honest with ourselves here. AI will likely replace jobs. It will change the way to market our digital brands and businesses. It might even take away writing jobs from humans. It’s trending towards these types of events.
And it’s scary! I’m a freelance writer. I know that one day, my clients will likely choose AI-written content over mine. And that day might be here sooner than I’ve ever imagined.
So, what do we do? Chew our fingernails and panic until it happens?
We must build an online community now because an online community is emotional. It’s friendship. It’s loyalty. It’s networking. It’s a real human connection. We saw the world loath when that connection was immediately removed during the pandemic.
We desire human connection.
Connection can easily come in the form of community, which you must focus on right now.
Why Build an Online Community Now?
Because it’s something AI can’t beat (at least right now).
What I mean by this is that AI will likely start replacing things we would normally do as humans. It’ll essentially replace writing and blogging. It will replace research. It will replace development as automated AI processes evolve even more.
We can’t stop this, either.
And before you think I’m anti-AI, I’m not. AI is going to do remarkable things and improve society as a whole. It might even help us combat the growing concern of misinformation that we’re struggling with as a people.
But eventually, when AI starts to replace various tasks, it will likely be harder to compete for digital marketing, SEO, content creation, and that sort of thing.
AI will change search as we know it. It will not look like it does now. And this will happen quickly – in our lifetime, for sure.
A community retains the human connection that AI will start to take away. Again, that’s not to paint a bad picture of AI, but it will be difficult for many people to get used to.
If you build a community now, you’ll be able to salvage many of the things AI will essentially dominate because your community will focus on relationship development, human connection, and specific interests.
Online communities are about to spread like wildfire. Don’t allow yourself to be left behind.
How to Start an Online Community
There are different types of online communities to create.
You can create one-sided communities like blogs and newsletters. I say one-sided because it’s more about what you have to say than what others say.
You can still get a community effort with a newsletter and blog because, typically, people can reply to emails and leave comments on blogs. But engagement and interaction are usually fairly limited due to the technology and structure of email systems and blogs.
You should definitely consider keeping an active blog because content sells. It can help you evolve your expertise and authority in your niche.
And you should keep an active newsletter because you own that audience retention, and no algorithm can get in the way of that.
But are these two types of digital infrastructure good for an online community? That’s the big question to ask yourself based on your niche and target audience.
Social Media Communities
The next community type is social media. With social media, you can create a community and grow it to any level you want for free. You can do all this without spending a dime.
Social media platforms are all about keeping people on their platforms. If you develop a community that keeps people on their platforms, even in your social group or page, that platform will reward you with more reach.
There is a significant problem with social media communities, though.
It’s rented space. You don’t own your community. You don’t have access to your community’s database or contact information. If the platform shuts down or discontinues the feature that your community is a part of – you’ll lose it. If they ban you – you’ll lose your community. And there’s nothing you can do about it. You agreed to this term by joining. It’s in their terms – go have a look.
Social media might not be an ideal community platform because you don’t retain access to your community if something happens.
But social media is a still a great tool to help earn a reputation, create brand awareness, and recruit people to be a part of your community through promotion or by gaining organic ambassadors.
Traditional Online Communities
Then there are traditional online communities.
These are your forums. They’re your custom social networks. Your chat programs. Your digital conferencing platforms. Some are rented spaces like social media, but many give you access to your contacts or database because you usually pay for the service.
Typically, these are the best types of communities.
With a community platform like Circle or XenForo, you can create sections for discussion. You can add additional content like courses and events. You can fully engage with members of your community, and they can fully engage with you and each other – openly in the whole community or privately in most cases.
These are typically the best platform for developing relationships in a two-way manner. They’re also great for networking with your followers and letting them help each other rather than you having to do all the work.
Out of all the community types, I would recommend the traditional community the most.
You Started Your Community – Now What?
Now you have to raise awareness for it.
This is usually the hard part. But if you stay consistent and have a good attitude about it, you can easily win at the online community game. You have to be confident about it and give yourself plenty of credit.
And patience is a must. It might take a while – even a few years- but staying focused and thinking ahead is important. The past is the past, and you’re doing the presentation. You need to keep the future in your mind.
So, let’s talk about promoting your community!
Start doing it by developing YOUR reputation and authority within your niche. YOU (YOU as a person) need to be one of the main key factors of why people want to be a part of YOUR community.
You can become known and understand what your community is and who is a part of your community. You can become cherished and followed by tackling your industry’s biggest questions, problems, and errors, solving them, and then providing easier solutions than anyone else.
Do this with social media engagement, mailing list conversions, and especially content marketing. If you don’t have a blog – you need to start a blog today.
As AI advances and more of us write articles like this one, more communities in your space will start to pop up. As that occurs, winning people over will be harder because they’re already a part of a community. And that’s why you need to build an online community now and go hard on promoting it and developing your reputation.
Just be smart about promotion. Don’t spam people or piss people off. Don’t promote in ways that would piss you off.
Be consistent and patient, like I said, and you’ll succeed at this task.
How to Keep a Community Going
Keeping your community going is up to you.
How much dedication are you willing to spend on keeping your community active?
You need to engage with members every day. That’s 7 days a week! You must visit the community a few times daily, especially when it’s new.
But sometimes, you need a break because you’re human. AI is taking a break, though. And that’s not very good for us wore out founders who need a break. So, what do we do?
It goes back to building up your authority and being loved by your audience. Your goal with a community is to turn your audience into loyal fans and followers. They join your community to be with you and engage with you.
Then something magical happens… You gain what I like to call organic ambassadors.
These folks are your super fans. They’ll market your stuff without you asking them to do it. They’ll love everything you make. They’ll be beneficial to your brand and your community. These are the people you don’t want to lose.
These are also great potential candidates for community managers, administrators, or moderators in your community.
Being able to help run your community in your required direction will be a significant honor for these folks. I’m a community manager for a community of a brand that I’ve become attached to. I feel honored about it. And now, it’s a mission of mine to make it awesome, and that’s what I plan to do.
But even with me, there has to be direct expectations set for your community manager or moderator. Their contributions and assistance have to flow with your community’s mission; it’s up to you to coach them into that.
Engaging with your community is the best way to keep it active. Try to keep engagement fresh and unique. Ensure everyone can leave with something they got out of being a part of the community. But make sure they continue to get something out of it when they return.
One Last Word of Advice
You should definitely build an online community now but only with a specific niche in mind.
A generic or broad niche will be harder to keep active, engaged, and analyzed.
Niche down specifically to a certain type of audience. This will allow you to focus more because you’re looking for specific types of people. You can answer questions better based on your knowledge because you will be tasked with that quite a bit.
A niche is a topic or industry your brand or business will focus on within your community.
The best type of niche is the one you’re most passionate about.
And that’s why you should build an online community now. Do it! Be successful with it! And thank me later by leaving a comment on this post. But you can also subscribe to my newsletter (free) to learn more about online community, content marketing, and all that fun stuff. Thank you for reading my article, and I hope you have a great day.
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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