The impact of online social communities on your business

When it comes to online social communities, people naturally gravitate towards them. Humans, by nature, are social animals. They are comfortable in groups and feed off each other’s energy and like to exchange ideas (among other things).

Being committed and committing is essential
You definitely need other people to be successful in business. In fact, without them, you won’t have any business at all. You need them to eventually buy what you are selling. For that reason, online social communities work well for many things, including giving each other what the other wants and needs. You want your relationship to be mutually beneficial.

Whether you start an online social community or join one that’s already been established, your approach will be the same (minus some potential administrative responsibilities you may have if you establish the community). It is important to remember that you are not alone in this, no matter what. A community is a group of people who share one or more common interests.

Social media is the backbone of online social communities
Social communities are very important to the success of most businesses. It’s a classic case of one hand washing the other. Companies need online social communities that help them strengthen the social aspect of their institution. On the other hand, online social communities need businesses because they need to live and grow somewhere. Companies can provide that forum and a platform for those online social communities to do just that. It is very important that you remember that online social communities are not just for personal use. They are extremely beneficial for businesses as well.

From a marketing perspective, combining online social communities with business is truly a marriage made in heaven. Those communities are the power behind successful marketing efforts by the company. Some of the positive results that come out of that alliance are that online social communities allow companies to:

  • Develop strong and lasting relationships and networks based on trust.
  • Bring together people who can share a mutually beneficial relationship
  • Engage in active and successful engagement

A wide variety of online social communities

The online social communities you choose for your brand/business will depend on the goals you have in mind. Those goals will drive you to pursue certain groups and certain people. You certainly have a plethora of communities to choose from. The communities you choose can go a long way toward meeting your company’s marketing needs.

Now that you understand how online social communities work (sort of), it’s important that you understand that engagement is an essential part of running those communities successfully. You should keep in mind that while communities are social by nature, that doesn’t mean your business won’t benefit from them in the way you want. In fact, there are many effective tools you can take advantage of to get what you want from your participation in those communities. Interestingly, there may be aspects of your communities that are not obvious (or even apparent).

For example, if you are a member of a community that has 2,000 members, you may still find that only 50 of those members are actively participating in discussions and other interactions. The truth is that not all members have the desire to be heard. Some people are just interested enough to listen and learn, which of course is fine too. However, you still need some people who are more vocal than that. Otherwise, no one would be interacting about anything. You’ll want to encourage as many group members as possible to participate in the discussions that occur, but in the end you won’t have much control over it. There are many different ways to engage other people besides leaving a thought-provoking comment or question. You can carry out a survey (with three or four questions) or carry out a contest with an incentive (a discount on your products and/or services, some kind of prize, etc).

Participation in online social communities does not happen by itself
You clearly understand that online social communities are about people. The platforms and forums that are used are useful (I might even go so far as to say essential), but they are still not as important as the members of the community. In fact, the choice of platform and forum are not as important as the people. Many platforms/forums can be used by communities simultaneously. An added benefit of being part of an online social community is that it gives you the support you may need to accept what your competition is doing and gather some really valuable competitive information.

The effectiveness of your online social communities depends, in large part, on the members of the community and their ability to act as effective resources. In turn, you (and each member) will help each other to get what is needed and wanted. After all, you are all part of the same community (think of it as a family) and that is what families do. They help each other when needed. You can use your online social communities in many different ways, including discussing products and/or services and getting valuable feedback, helping you take your business to the next level.

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