As we saw last week, if you want to create a community, you should think about what type of media you’re going to use and how to persuade customers to become members. Once you’ve created your community, it’s time to ask yourself: how am I going to manage it?
Having an active community can be really beneficial for e-retailers: not only for increasing customer loyalty, but for creating buzz around your products or services.
There are several approaches to managing your community:
1. Update your content regularly…and be responsive!
The frequency of your updates depends on the type of media you’ve chosen. But whatever the medium, you should always be responsive: answer member questions and respond to member comments as quickly as possible.
a. You have a blog:
If you’ve opted for a blog, write at least one article a week: this is the ideal frequency to ensure your readers stay interested. Think carefully about your choice of subject matter - it should be related to your e-shop’s activity. If you discuss your news, you should also discuss the news of others too! As well, make sure to keep your articles short and sweet: if your articles are too long, you risk losing the interest of your readers.
You should aim to think about the form, as well as the content. Liven up your blog with attractive visuals, photos and videos. For example, What goes around NYC, highlight their favourite ideas and products with eye-catching visuals. That way, their readers can get an idea of the subject through an image.
(Example blog: What goes around NYC)
And finally, in order to maintain a good relation with your members, don’t forget to respond quickly to their questions and comments!
b. You’re using social networks
As for the updates on your social networks, you’ll need to be more regular: renew your pages at least once or twice a day. This could be as simple as posting a one or two-sentence status update on Facebook and/or Twitter to maintain contact!
You can also ask your fans and followers direct questions that they’ll be happy to answer – a fast and easy way of gauging their opinion.
Here too, you can upload images or videos, or share future events to encourage your members to participate. If you have the resources, you can design and enrich content. For example, the Michel et Augustin Facebook page shows a “cookie bar” with changing recipes.
c. You have a forum:
A forum should be self-supporting, but it’s a good idea to start discussion topics now and then, in order to freshen the debate. There’s also a bit of management to do – validate comments and/or block people who misbehave. That way you can avoid any conflicts between members. To create a forum on your e-shop, check out the module Presta Forum GP.
2. Provide VIP offers to your community members!
a. Special offers!
Internet users love belonging to a community. They appreciate it even more when this community gives them special offers! So don’t wait to organise VIP sales or reductions and deals on your products. For example, the e-shop Paste is currently offering 20% off on all its products, just for its Facebook fans!
b. Organise competitions, challenges and send out invitations to your members
These activities encourage participation and will encourage new members: MaSpatule.com uses their Facebook page to organise competitions, offering recipe books and coupons as prizes: an effective way of attracting and keeping loyal new fans and customers!
Competition run by MaSpatule.com
3. Combine on-line activities with meeting face-to-faces
Managing a community doesn’t just mean on-line activities. Meeting your members face-to-face will allow you to get closer to them and develop stronger relationships. It’s also a good way of putting your users’ names to faces. The following are two possible ways of meeting your community:
Formal events: show yourself at trade shows for your business sector
Informal events: like cocktail parties or diners; these are really effective ways of meeting your members in a relaxed environment, and of promoting your business. Mayoz (Link Mayoz.fr) understand the benefits of these informal events as they invite their members to “Photo Aperos”, or drinks and photos, a very effective way to bring everyone together around a drink to discuss photography!
A few snaps from the Mayoz Photos and Drinks event
So there you have it: creating and managing a community is an activity all on its own. It’s important to make regular contributions, updating regularly and offering members certain advantages. But these efforts soon pay dividends in your increased product awareness and customer loyalty.
Now you’ve got all the information you need to create and manage a community. It’s up to you now!