Building an online community from scratch is quite a challenge, but the good news is, if you are still at that early stage you have the chance to build it correctly from the beginning.
My name is Juan Antonio González Lombana and I was part of the team responsible for creating the Google Partners LATAM online community, and although it took a lot of time, we ended up building an awesome community, not just measured by the number of members, but also by the many interactions between them; that in my opinion, is the most important thing about a community.
Without further ado, these are the 5 things I always recommend doing when building an online community:
###1.- Define your identity within the community
The first thing you need to figure out is, who are you going to be in the community? You can identify as a brand or you can take a more personal approach and let people know who you are and what brand you support. I personally prefer the second approach, but if you are using it, you must position yourself as a complete expert on the subject.
###2.- Focus on helping
I know that most people who are building a community do it to grow their business, but you have to think of the community as a way to help people. They may buy from you or they may not, but the important thing is that you are there for them. If you want to do sales-oriented marketing, then SEO or SEM is a better fit. Communities are about helping, not selling.
###3.- Be proactive, not reactive
People like to follow pages that post interesting things, reply to comments fast and take advantage of every aspect of the social network such as posting polls, videos and liking things. If you want to build a highly engaged community, you have to set the example and be highly and proactively engaged with it.
###4.- Be original
Anyone, and I mean literally anyone can open a Facebook Page and re-share content from other people and brands. That kind of approach doesn’t add value to your community; you have to share content that no one else has ever shared. Content that you create is much more valuable to the community than stuff they have already seen elsewhere. That said, it doesn’t have to be highly produced content, just original content.
###5.- Schedule is king
Although the original phrase is â€œContent is kingâ€ I really think that to keep a posting agenda is more important. By doing so, you are always engaging with your community and people get used to your posting. Youâ€™ll want to have a plan for at least one month worth of posting before you start your community.
While these tips should help you get started with building your community, Iâ€™d like to end with a final warning: this is way more difficult than it looks. This means that you have to be committed to dedicate time to community building, and make sure your agenda allows it. Donâ€™t let this stop you, however: once you’re there, I bet itâ€™s going to be the most amazing thing you’ve ever created.
Feel free to reach out to me on any social network for questions, for instance on Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat.
Liked this guest post and want to learn more? Make sure to check out this class by Product Huntâ€™s Erik Torenberg on how to build and grow online communities.