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Online community management in social marketing

 Online community management in social marketing

Online community management in social marketing

In this article, we will tell you how to create an online community that will increase your results, help you grow your business, and create active followers of your brand.

The essence of building an online community

Community, in its simplest form, means the feeling of fellowship with other people as a result of the exchange of common views, interests and goals. By creating online communities, we connect people with other people who share a common interest, hobby, or goal.

How does building an online community fit into your business? Building an online community around something you're passionate about or really good at, like the services you provide or the products you make, helps you interact more effectively with your customers.

When your customers feel like they are part of your mission, it motivates them to take action. Conversations start, awareness of your products or services grows, and relationships turn customers into followers of your brand.

Your goals for building an online community in your business will always be to build a customer base, be an active participant in conversations about your business, and engage with your customers directly as much as possible. Because your customers are your community.

Internet communities consist of like-minded people and have different areas of interaction. Each community can be classified into one of these five categories: interest, action, place, practice, and circumstance.

Let's look at interest first. These are communities of people who have the same interests or hobbies. A prime example of this is the Starbucks Facebook page, where 36 million fans combine interest in the brand and coffee.

The second category is action. These are communities of people trying to bring about change. Activists fall under this type of community.

The third category is the place. These are communities of people united by geographical boundaries. This includes neighborhoods, schools, and cities. Facebook buy and sell groups are a great example.

The fourth category is practice. These are communities of people of the same profession or those who are engaged in the same activity. Physicians, car mechanics, business groups are all examples of the practice category.

The fifth category is circumstances. These are communities of people united by various events or situations. Many charities fall under this type of community. These are also victim groups and support groups.

What types of communities does your type of business belong to? Understanding what type of community you are building will help you better understand your mission and vision.

Preparing to create an online community

What tools do you need to create, manage and grow your online community? Let's take a look at a few of the tools you should use to build your community.

The first one is the most important tool and it is your online platform. This is where your online community is located. These are places like your website, Facebook, Facebook groups, VK, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and so on. The best way to decide which platform to use for your online community is to look at where it already sits. If the majority is on Facebook, then perhaps this is where you need to be.

To determine where your community is located, we recommend doing a simple Google search to check the demographics for each social network. This way you will be able to see the key information for each social media platform and get more details about who is using it and whether it fits your business line.

Here are a few online platforms where you can discover the demographic you are interested in and start building a community. To begin with, we will look at social networks such as groups on Facebook, VK, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

Many people think that online communities should be created by themselves, but in fact, if you can use existing communities and carve your niche in them, then you will really succeed.

There are also other sites, for example, VC.RU,, this is the place where you can really declare yourself as an authority and communicate with like-minded people. You also have forums like Reddit for example. Well, the ability to use your personal website or blog as an online platform.

The difference between all these social platforms and websites is their traffic. Many of them have high traffic, and the problem with a personal website or blog is that you just don't have that many people visiting it. This doesn't mean you can't build a big community, it means you have to work a little harder to get traffic there.

Once you have a website or blog, you can use various plugins to make it easier to build a community. Disqus or Cacle is a great comment management plugin that syncs with Facebook, for example, so people can see who commented on your blog and then interact with them on that social network.

Don't forget mailing lists, another way to build a community and interact with its members. You can use free or paid mailing programs like Mailchimp, Drip and Klaviyo.

The next tool you will need to manage your online community is group mailing services and control of all social media accounts. Buffer is a tool with which you can send and schedule social media posts. It will also provide valuable information about your accounts. There are other similar services like HootSuite, SocialOomph and others.

It's also a good idea to use cloud storage like oneDrive or DropBox, as well as free project management services like Trello. 

Next, you'll need tools to measure the progress of your website. These are tools that help measure its traffic and the number of views of your publications on it. If we talk about viewing site analytics, use Google Analytics and Yandex Metrica. If you have a Twitter account, then use Twitter Insights. For Facebook - Facebook Analytics.

Now you have a general idea of ​​where your community might be, what platforms you are going to focus on, and what online tools to use to build and grow your online community.

Building an online community

The first step in building an online community is to decide on the platform you are going to use. Most brands have multiple platforms. But we recommend focusing on just one first. You can use the Facebook page, your website, blog or other social network. Choose the one where it will be easy to find members of your community.

The second step is to decide on your message. Your posts should explain the purpose of your community. It is on them that people will decide whether they belong to your community or not. Try to post it prominently on the platforms you use. Most often, these are the sections “About us”, “About the project”, and so on.

The next step in building a community is to figure out what your brand is about. Branding is how you promote your community, or in other words, what you sell to people. Places like your profile logo, headline, and even your content are all ways to make your platform stand out.

Social networks not only serve as a platform for online communities, but are also an effective way to show you their members. You can do this by posting on Facebook, tweeting, or pinning it on Pinterest.

Since social networking sites allow you to post content that your community can view, this is an effective way to engage your audience. The key is to use social media to connect your content with a community that finds it interesting. Communicating and engaging with members in a timely manner is a great way to build and expand that community base.

A few more tips for building an online community:

  1. Be clear about who you are building your community for. Is it not for everyone, but for specific people who resonate with your message? Getting clarity on this is important to get the best results.
  2. Define rules of conduct. What is expected from members of your community? What is acceptable behavior and what is not? What happens to a community member who doesn't follow the rules? Developing rules of engagement helps develop a positive and effective community. Most often, these rules can be seen in the section "About Us" or FAQ.
  3. Next comes authenticity. Don't try to be what you are not. Building a community is about bringing a group of people together to create something more than an individual. When building a community, do it for your members. You can put this into practice by regularly gathering their feedback and creating feedback. Use the online platform as a tool to collect proposals.
  4. Consistency reflects your commitment to the group. Stay as consistent as possible. It is expressed through your posts, interaction with group members in the form of contests, streams, etc.
  5. Create a high-quality and recognizable profile of your community.
  6. Create relevant content. These are any updates, posts, or comments within the community.
  7. In addition to having relevant content, you should update it regularly. Keep your community up to date. Develop a posting schedule and stick to it. For example, Facebook prefers one to two messages per day, while Twitter prefers the more the better.
All of the above tips for building an online community are pretty important principles for being productive and growing your online groups.

How to grow your online community?
Trust is built consistently. So by regularly posting, replying to and commenting on, updating content, and interacting with your group members, you are actively building an effective community.

Here are a few ways to stay consistent:

  1. Allocate time. Write down in your calendar a period of time when you are creating content. Based on the analytics on your platforms, determine the best time for your posts and plan them out a week ahead. Plan your work and work according to your plan.
  2. Celebrate your successes. We are often so focused on our tasks that we forget to take some time to really see how far we have come. When you reach any exciting goals, like 1000 new members, be sure to mark it. Don't forget to share this with your community as a holiday post.
Now let's talk about content. When we talk about online content, we mean information available through a website or other online platform. It also includes Facebook posts, blog posts, comments, Twitter tweets, white papers, videos, and more.

Many owners of social groups struggle with the problem of writing posts. They often think that they have nothing to say, or that what they have to say looks too simple. But as one of the rules of our life says - the simpler the better. You take for granted what you have, but members of your community come to you for your knowledge and experience.

So what kind of content should you create:

What is the most asked question about your community topic? Collect such questions and consider them from different angles.
Why not talk about your community? This is another great blog post and great content. These can be messages about upcoming classes, exhibitions, and calls for volunteers.
It is time to discuss such an important mechanism for the development of the Internet community as online interaction. Online interaction is the ability to hold the viewer's attention. They might like a Facebook post, a comment on your blog, or just reading a tweet. You want your community members to be involved because a high level of engagement is a sign of an active community.

Tracking engagement can be tricky because we can't always track a user's attention through our content. Therefore, tools for tracking community statistics come to our aid. Below you can see an example from Facebook.

You can look at data like page actions, page views, and if you look below, you'll notice page likes and post reach. All this will tell you how people like your content, how much they interact with your page, and even if you go to the Likes tab on the left, you can see how your community is growing.

Why is interaction important? We want to capture the attention of our audience. Active community involvement results in increased brand awareness for your business and also makes you a trusted source. When people are given a choice, your audience will always choose you from any other similar organization, simply because you facilitated that relationship.

Over time, your online community will have people who will interact very actively with your content. These are the activists that people turn to for advice and add them to their network. And you, in turn, must take care of such activists.

Finding such people is not so difficult, as they will declare themselves. You will see that they, like many of your posts, share their comments and retweet you on Twitter. They will interact with all your content and start bringing their friends to your community. They don't ask for anything in return, but they enjoy being a connector, a spokesperson, a trailblazer, so do whatever you can to help them feel that way in your community.

Make sure these people are the first to know about your new products, you can send them to test your new products or test your new shipping method. Give them every reason to talk about your brand and in time they will become your most loyal soldiers.

Now let's say you've worked hard to build your online community. The next step is to use your community to promote your business. Promoting a business through online communities is called social marketing.

The first step in leveraging your communities will be to spread your content, messages, and business itself. This means that you must make sure that more people see your content. Create more buzz around your business and ask your community to support you in these initiatives. Your content should be easily accessible and easy to share online.

Here are some tips for strengthening your message:

  1. Using shortened links in your content and built-in share buttons on your site;
  2. Using your ardent supporters, which we wrote about above.
  3. Paid community promotion methods through advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, AdSense, Yandex Direct and even LinkedIn.
When should you use paid tactics? This is a question that many entrepreneurs ponder. Since building an online community is part of your marketing plan, there may be times when using these paid channels will help you achieve your marketing goals. You might want to use these paid channels when you are just starting out online and want to quickly build a foundation online.

Often communities value organic growth when new members join on their own initiative. This leads to an increase in the quality of the audience, as people who are interested in the topics of the group join, while people who are more prone to advertising may not be suitable. If you go down this path, then expect slow growth as your community will have minimal reach.

Measuring your success

As your online project grows, so does the burden on you. The number of unanswered questions increases, your server starts to slow down due to frequent visits to your web resource, and much more. We call it growing pains. It is inevitable and is a great indicator of problems that need to be addressed.

As you grow, you must be able to scale your resource. Here are a few ways to scale your online community:

  1. The first thing to do is take a step back. Remember who your community is for and what your guidelines are. Remind yourself why you created this community.
  2. Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. This will help you reduce the number of questions you have to answer in person.
  3. You can create a community manager (administrator) role. This could be an employee, an experienced member of the community, or a virtual assistant.
  4. Collaborating with other content producers is another effective way to scale your content strategy. You can invite a guest blogger or outsource content creation to other contributors.
  5. Implement automation. It comes down to making tasks less manual, allowing you to focus on more important aspects of your community. An example would be pre-planning all of your posts in the relevant internet marketing tools.
  6. Project management tools like Basecamp or Asana also help you manage your team and community. This is a great way to automate your efforts.
The biggest challenge in measuring your efforts is that you are striving to shape and create quality relationships within the online community. It's very difficult to track revenue directly from community building efforts, but the brand awareness it creates ultimately translates into sales and increased conversions.

One of the best metrics for tracking the long-term benefits of community building is the number of customers you acquire. As you begin to build relationships with your potential customers, as well as increase awareness of your business, your customer acquisition costs become less and less tangible to you. Building a community will lower the price you pay for each new client.

To determine the cost of customer acquisition, you take your community development budget over a given period of time and divide it by the total number of customers you receive in that particular period of time. It's not as difficult as it might seem. Try to do this calculation once a month. It will take some time before your community building efforts start to pay off.

Another way to measure the success of your online community is by analyzing your audience growth. How fast is she growing? How fast are you getting new subscribers? You should always be aware of the growth of your community in order to understand which recruitment methods work and which need to be adjusted.

Another way to measure the success of your online community is through engagement analysis. This is when a person interacts with your content in a certain way. You should be looking at metrics like the number of likes your posts get, as well as comments, shares, and clicks.

This will help you keep track of what content your community is interacting with the most so you can know what content to create to provide added value.


In this article, we have tried to outline the basic principles for building and developing an online community as an important part of a social marketing strategy. Make your plan, be consistent and you will most likely start to see the community form around you and your business.