I have a surprise for you.
If you’re a Blogger or other type of online business owner, you already have an online community.
It doesn’t matter if you have a Facebook group or people in your comments or an email list. Your online community starts with the people that are coming to read your posts.
The question then is how are you treating your online community? If you’re not treating them like a community, then you probably aren’t getting any of the benefits of online communities for Business.
Let’s talk a little more about what an online community is and why you can start engaging with yours if you aren’t already.
Where Do Online Communities for Business Live?
If you’re a Pocket Business member, you know that we have two places where we interact with out community. Odd Noodle Slack and the Pocket Business Circle.
There are lots of community platforms. We use two.
Slack is a great place to host a community if you’re looking for fast paced conversation and interaction. Circle is a discussion style forum that works great for memberships and course or coaching branded communities.
Probably the most popular place to host a successful online community currently is Facebook. You probably belong to a few Facebook groups already.
But there are hidden pockets where online business communities live that you might not think about.
If you have comments on your blog and there are readers leaving comments and interacting there, that’s a community.
Same with your Instagram account and YouTube channel.
Anywhere that there’s a conversation happening that is more than just 1:1 (meaning you and your reader) there’s a community.
There are benefits for you and there are benefits for the reader, of course. They get a new place to learn and interact with people that are on the same path as they are. That is very powerful when you are trying to learn a new skill.
And if there are benefits to your reader from an online community, then you should be thinking about the benefits of online communities for your business.
Because any time you can further improve the life of your reader, you should be seeing a benefit for your business, too.
Let’s talk about the benefits of online communities for your business.
5 Benefits of Online Communities for Your Business
Building a well-engaged community and the community management that you’ll be responsible for your business is not easy. It takes a lot of time and energy to get to a place where there is consistent conversation happening daily.
But, once you’ve got good community engagement, the benefits of online communities for your business are going to far outweigh the work it takes to maintain it.
#1. No more one way conversations.
Your blog posts offer a one way conversation. You talk to the reader and they don’t talk back.
They can email you and then you’ve got a 2 way conversation. Think about all of the emails you’ve gotten that have resulted in a good and helpful conversation.
Imagine if that good and helpful conversation had happened in a forum where more people could have benefited from it?
When your readers ask questions in a forum, it opens up discussions. When discussions start to happen you start to get more insight into how you can help them continue to improve.
And the only thing that anyone ever buys is improvement. If you’re hungry and you buy a Snickers, what you’re really buying is how you will improve your life by not feeling hungry anymore.
The more ways you can uncover to help improve the lives of your audience, the opportunities you will have to make money.
#2. Communities help to build trust.
Are you familiar with our Pocket Business Framework?
- Get them to notice you.
- Get them to pay attention to you.
- Get them to trust you.
- Convert that trust into money.
Can you guess which is the most difficult part of the Framework?
If you said “Get them to trust you”, you win!
Building trust with your audience is not easy. You can provide tons of free value to help them, show up consistently in their inboxes, let them put a face to your name with video content, but when it’s you just talking at them, there’s no real relationship being formed.
When you start interacting with them in the comments sections of your social networks or posts or even one to one over email, you start to become a real person and not just words on a screen.
That relationship that you start to build through interacting is where you can really build some trust. If you show up consistently and provide honest and helpful conversation, you will build trust with your audience.
Having a Slack community or a Circle community or a Facebook group as a dedicated place for discussions is great, but if you haven’t taken that step yet, remember that you still do have a community so make sure you are using those comments sections to build up trust.
#3. You will build better products and services when you have a strong online community for your business.
The first job of an online community is customer service. It’s a place for your audience to go to get help.
That means you are going to get lots of questions. Every time someone asks you a question about a product or service that you offer you have an opportunity to improve that product or service.
I’m not saying you’re going to update your course every time someone asks a question, but when you start to see the same question multiple times about a particular concept, you will probably want to revisit that concept and see if you can improve the way you are delivering the information.
You’ll also start to see gaps that you might not be covering at all. That’s an opportunity to create a brand new product or service.
When we realized that the major thing that was holding our community members back from success was their mindset, we built a series of workshops to help.
#4. Communities build relationships among your audience members.
Online communities are great for customer service and they help you see new insight into how you can help your audience.
But the value that they add for your audience is probably the greatest benefit for you.
Your audience is going to build a relationship not just with you, but with other people in the community.
You’ll see friendships grow, collaborations, accountability groups.
In their real life, they might not have someone else who is working on improving this one particular thing that you are helping them with.
When they have an online community of people to chat with, get advice from and celebrate milestones with, then that community becomes a part of their life. They don’t want to leave it.
Everything you offer your audience needs to be valuable, your posts, your emails, your videos, your courses, everything.
But building a strong a community is a different kind of value for your member. They become a part of your brand. It’s no longer a course they took.
It’s a place they belong.
#5. Communities are fun. For you.
You’re a solo business owner (blogger if you prefer that). It gets lonely, doesn’t it?
As a business owner, you might not have anybody in your life that is quite as excited about your business topic as you are.
Having a community of people that you can talk to and bounce ideas around with is awesome!
Seeing the progress that your audience is making is awesome!
Helping someone in real time is awesome!
I wake up excited every day to go check in and see what the awesome people in our community are doing.
Yes, it’s also a lot of work to build and maintain a community and it’s not always fun exciting things happening in the community, but most days it really is.
Don’t build a community for fun, build it for all of the other benefits of online communities for business that we talked about. But definitely have fun with the community when you do build it!
Go Build Your Online Community
A reminder before you go, if you have a blog or a YouTube channel or an Instagram account or any other platform where people can see your content and interact, you already have a community.
Think about how you can improve that commuity experience for them and then think about all of the benefits that your business will reap from improving that experience for them.