What the heck is an online community?
It is a community. That is online.
In all seriousness, an online community’s purpose is to find other people, groups, organizations, or businesses that have a common thread to support each other for some form of growth.
This could be professional growth, personal growth, or educational growth.
How do I know who I want in my online community?
To give a good answer to that question, we need to first define our WHY. Why exactly is it that you are trying to grow your online community?
– Is there a problem you are trying to solve or overcome?
– Are you wanting to learn something new, like where to find the best hiking trails?
– Is it to make friends and connections that have shared interests with you?
– Is it to help grow your business?
Whatever your “why” is for seeking a community online, platforms like Facebook and Instagram tend to spoon-feed us content and people that we need in our lives. The algorithms make it so. However, sometimes, we need to dive a little deeper.
For the sake of this conversation, let us assume the reason you are wanting to grow your online community is to grow your business. This type of community building needs to be a little more intentional.
I own a business, who do I want my online community to be?
If our reason for trying to grow our online community is to grow our business, then our potential customer is WHO we want to try to bring into our community.
Where do I find these people?
You can find your community on several online platforms, be it YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, TikToc … the list goes on. Where you go to find your community, should be heavily weighted by WHO you want in your community. Where is it that your desired customer hangs out when he/she is online?
One of our favorite ways to connect with potential customers online is through Facebook groups. Do you own a Landscaping company? Join groups that have plants and shrubbery as their platform. Use your business profile to interact with people in a socially appropriate way. Typically, selling your product to these people is highly frowned upon. However, if you are able to give expert advice and be part of valuable conversation, you will be able to attract people just by being good at what you do and displaying that in a low-key casual way.
If your target customer is on Instagram more than Facebook, you can use the same principals to interact with hashtags that coincide with your brand. For this example, you may follow and interact with hashtags like #botany #pnwflora or #landscape. We can’t stress enough that this should be done casually and socially, not used-car-salesman-y.
Once you start connecting with your people online, they’ll start to check you out and follow you in return. It’s mega important to have a great landing page on whatever platform you are using so that when they come looking to see how legit you are, your page screams “we are the most legit!”