Internet users love to communicate and share information freely on subject they adore. Brands quickly took note, and many of them encourage these exchanges. Sharing is thus the key element to build a community: you want to establish a dialogue with your community members and aim to get your members to start dialogues between themselves.
This community idea is becoming important to so many brands because communities sell more and sell better! Thanks to your community, you can better understand your customers’ expectations and opinions and make yourself known by word of mouth—all practically for free!
Want to create a community? Here are 3 tips to get you started on the right track!
1. Are you sure you want a community?
A community can be a great vector for advertising your brand and your site… if you don’t let it down! By engaging in the creation of a community, you must accept what that means: your members will expect openness and tolerance for all sorts of comments, be they positive or negative. A community is also a lot of work: your members will expect high reactivity on your part.
Also think about the messages you plan to spread and the tone that you will adopt. Community members want to see content, not advertisements.
2. Choose the right support to run your community!
There are different tools that can help, and each has its advantages and constraints:
Blogs: this is the most commonly used tool to create a community. Blogging is a great way to share content, information about the company, and even launch debates. The brand Archiduchesse has mastered this art: the sock company’s creators take to their blog quite often and publish their results every month! Their members love that they're open and direct. In order to create your blog add the WordPress module that will enable you to easily import your blog on your shop.
The Archiduchesse’ Blog
Social Networks: Facebook, Twitter or more recently Pinterest create even more ways to interact with your community. If you decide to use these tools, you must compel yourself to publish information regularly! Give your fans/followers pertinent or funny content, in hopes that they’ll share them with their friends or their own followers!
In order to increase the number of your Facebook fans, there is a very powerful module that allows your clients to receive a discount coupon as soon as they become “fans” of your page: Facebook Fan Coupon
Forum: trickier to set up than a blog, a forum nonetheless gives you much more freedom! With a forum, you’re not always the one creating subjects, and can let your community members produce their own content. You’ll work less on creating content, but will work more as a moderator as the forum increases in size. Forums can be particularly important for sites selling technology products; it’s no surprise that Amazon.com developed a forum specifically for computer technology products they sell!
Forum example, Amazon
Physical meetings: Finally, don’t ignore real-life events and physical meet-ups ! A virtual community must be able to exist in the real world as well. Several brands organize get-togethers and parties bringing together members so that they can talk and exchange ideas.
3. Encourage your customers to join your community!
You’ve chosen your support; now get your first members!
Make your methods of communication visible
Multiply the number of links pointing to your Facebook page, Twitter account, or blog. There are several places you can post them, for example your homepage, your menu, or your Newsletter, and start creating your community.
Give advantages to your members
Are your members your top ambassadeurs ? Then pamper them ! Offer them special advantages : exclusive content or promotional offers ! Sephora lets its Facebook fans be the “first to discover new items”-- what a strong way to recruit new fans!
We hope that now you understand that creating a community is quite a challenge and requires a substantial time investment, especially since you’ll need to maintain your online store at the same time. Keep in mind that this time investment can become profitable very quickly: you can communicate directly with your “fans,” find out their opinions (both positive and negative), and above all get people to talk about your brand without spending a cent! As for running the community… well, first get it set up, and then we’ll tell you more in our next article!