Being a part of social media and interacting online on a regular and consistent basis is critical to the success of your business. However, it is important to build your online communities so that you get the most benefit.
Many people recognize the importance of effective online communities; however, many more people don’t truly get how important having the appropriate people as part of your online communities is for your professional success. Online communities and the interactions that occur among people are, even at this point in time, often viewed in a nebulous or mysterious manner. People are very often not willing to embrace what they don’t understand.
One important thing to remember when it comes to building online communities successfully is that the community should never rely on just one person for its leadership and direction. A good way to figure out if there is too much dependency on one person is by paying attention to the total number of postings for that community. If it seems like a large percentage of them were made by one person, it is time to distribute the wealth a little more evenly. It is important for someone to take the reins when the community is first being established; however, there should be some balance established. It is acceptable (and understandable) in the beginning for more postings to be made by that one individual. However, as time goes by, other people should step up and contribute.
How to get started
When you are first establishing an online community, there are several things that you need to put in place right from the start.
- Identify your goals and objectives: You will have a much easier time accomplishing what you want to accomplish if you identify it first. You need to make sure that you have the tools to accomplish your goals and you also need to figure out your target market. Once you have figured out who the members of your target audience are, you need to figure out what is important to them, who the heavy hitters within the niche are, the specific types of technology they use, and what motivates them.
- Strategic positioning: Online communities are successful because people are willing to actively engage. The online community will not be successful it it isn’t centrally located within your social media strategy. It is important that you make the information that you want to impart to the other people in your communities available only through your online communities. If you make it easy for your online connections to find the information in other ways, your online community connection will not hold the same value. It is important that you position your community in such as way that your audience has to recognize the value of the information and is willing to make some effort in order to obtain that information.
- Your reason for being: It is critical that your communities have a clear and important reason for being in existence. You need to give the other people in your communities a real reason to engage with the other members (including you) in the various communities.
- Technology is not the entire answer: Using the correct (and most effective) tools is only half of why y our online community will be a success. The other half of it is your strategy and management of the communities themselves. Your investment is time and consistency. Not money.
Online communities are critical to the success of your business and it is extremely important for you to understand not only the importance that they hold for your business but also for you to be at the center of that part of your online strategy. Your social media marketing strategy must be well thought out and successfully executed so that your online interactions are mutually beneficial and they result in solid, profitable relationships.
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Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.
Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.
Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.