Even if the majority of your sales don’t come from an online community it’s important to maintain an online presence. With that presence comes a community that will need to be maintained and interacted with.
Online communities drive sales and boost brand reputation. Studies show that people are more likely to buy from someone they know or associate with than from a stranger which is why community participants at online auction sites both buy and sell more, generating on average 56% more in sales than non-community users.
This is the case when you have a healthy community. But what happens when your community isn’t a healthy one? Here are a few misconceptions you need to look out for in your online community:
1. The higher the numbers the better the community will be
Wrong! Communities come in all shapes and sizes. Some are good communities with fewer members and some are non-interactive communities with millions of members. The quality of your audience doesn’t depend on the numbers. It depends on whether that audience is not only interacting with you but also with each other.
The best type of audience is the kind that knows enough about your brand to give advice to others when they ask. It shows their dedication to your brand.
If your community is not active with you or each other then you will need to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to entice them into participating.
2. Always know what your audience wants
When you run a professional page or group you want to look like you know what you’re doing. Which is all fine and well, but there is no harm in trying to find out what your online community wants with things like polls and questionnaires.
Having a poll once in a while to help you understand your audience is invaluable, and it shows your audience that you are taking the time to do the research you need in order to make their experience better.
Just be careful not to get your audience’s hopes up and then leave them hanging. For example, don’t post a poll asking what prizes they want and then not give anything away.
3. Give your audience everything they ask for
I have watched this fail time and time again. No matter what people say, they really only want a leader. They want you to take the initiative and give them what they need. Community members will come to you with some crazy ideas and it’s up to you to make the decision of whether that idea is viable for the community as a whole or if it just helps that one person. If it does only help that one person you now need to decide if complying with the request will impact the community in a negative way or if its ok to comply for the sake of helping that person.
Remember that as a leader you need to do what is best for your community as a whole first.
4. Moderation isn’t that big a deal
Moderating a group doesn’t mean that you have to be a dictator who takes down anything they don’t agree with, but rather that you’re removing anything that isn’t beneficial for the community. Remember that not everyone online has a hide as thick as a digital marketer, and they can be affected by something you may see as a non-issue. Listen to your audience when they complain about content that is being posted by others in the community.
This rule applies to online communities across the board. But some communities and some platforms will be more prone to needing moderation. For example, Reddit and Youtube generally need more moderation than Facebook.
5. Giving away prizes will create customer loyalty and get me more numbers
This point really is subject to the kind of community you want to create. If your community is centered around a business or news site then giveaways will work well.
But if you are trying to build something like a YouTube community then prizes aren’t going to work the way you hope they will. You want your community to be interactive with you because they like you not because you are giving them something. This only leads to a superficial relationship between content creator and audience, limiting the interaction they have with you.
At the end of the day, how you interact with your audience is up to you. But just remember that no matter what your reason for starting or maintaining a community it will be a lot of hard work.