Posted By: Simon Titus on September 13, 2017 in Associations&Business Strategy

There are so many desirable options for organizational success that have come up with the advent of technology and internet. However, despite their availability, not many people have managed to enjoy the full benefits.

Today, building an online community has become very essential for any association that wants to boost its presence and engagement. You've definitely heard about building an online community and online presence. How do you get people to read your blog or use your online community? Have you succeeded in building an online community for your organization?

Remember that you are not merely building an audience, but a community. Unlike in an audience setting, a community is interactive. You need participation, not just passive readers.

Here are some tips for building a successful, living and breathing online community. You’ll want to create something that will trigger participation and enthusiasm. These are the secrets that I’ve learned about creating a great online community for my association.

1. Content Choice
Provide useful content about the community and not about you. Educate people about the community. Inspire and entertain. Be different in your niche by doing what others are not doing – you could do interviews, videos and provide informative posts.

2. Be consistent
Engage your community constantly. Even when you are busy, provide quick briefs. Use different mediums to convey your message and your community will love it and remain engaged.

3. Make content sharable
Provide options in your community to share content on social sites and other platforms. Add plugins to facilitate sharing of the content. Start with the most popular sites.

4. Participate on social media
Share content written by others in your niche as you share yours too. Ask and answer questions. Connect with the right people and listen to what is happening in your niche.

5. Engage people in your community.
Make it a priority to respond to comments and discussions. This encourages the people and attracts others to do the same, sharing meaningful insights.

6. Show you care
Show you care when people are interested in what you do. When they ask questions, respond. Try to find time to answer questions despite your busy schedule.

7. Work with those in your community
Enable other people to promote your association. To gain lasting traction, allow others to say something about your organization. For example: 25 Experts Drop Wisdom on How to Grow a Vibrant Online Community. This should tell you something about reaching out and working with others in your niche.

8. Conduct interviews
Build your brand by asking the opinion of those interested in your niche. Most importantly, you will be making new connections by so doing.

9. Promote others and let them know
Make reference to people who have helped you learn something. After doing so, make a quick note to tell them about it. This will not only increase the credibility of your content, but also promote sharing.

10. Create Videos, Articles and Guest Posts
Look for sites in your niche that allow guests to post their content. This will help you tag new people. Get straight to the point and share your knowledge on other sites.

11. Public Relations
Avail yourself as an expert for new sources of media. As you create and share valuable content, you will gain leverage when contacting other people. Identify your strengths and share with others – media loves professionals.

12. Conduct live events
Building an online community will also require offline connections. Virtual connections are good but nothing can replace a real-life handshake. Bring great people together to eat, socialize and learn from each other. Use the event photos on your online platform. Read Alexia’s post on How to Build an Audience Online Using Live Events.

13. Alternate Writing with Speaking
Invite people over for round tables and discussions. Position yourself as a speaker to educate and inspire your audience. People will get to hear something from you. If they want more, they will follow you online.

14. Be patient
Keep doing your thing over and over again. Good things come to those who wait. Be smart in your approach and go for what you can afford in the moment.

15. State your purpose
From the beginning, your association should have a goal in building an online community. This will define your content and approach towards establishing and growing a useful community online.

16. Engage Many Departments
Create internal champions from various departments in your organization and use them to manage your community online. There are different aspects to address that may require varied experts.

17. Identify your action plan
Prepare an action plan. Find people who can manage the community on a daily basis - from technology to design to user experience.

18. Cede Power to Members
Let discussions among members continue without interference from your organization. Otherwise, it will destroy the genuineness of their interactions and may make users shy away from your organization.

19. Establish boundaries
Your association represents something in the niche and therefore, you should maintain the image of the organization in your community. Moderate your community to maintain integrity and professionalism.

20. Embrace All Despite Different Commitment Levels
Some members may not participate fully like others who will actively take part in almost every discussion. However, the input of each member at whatever level should be embraced. Fuel the discussions and you will see the commitment levels soar high with time. See how anonymity and charging members helped dietbetter reach an 80% engagement rate.

Content development through blogs, photos and videos has taken a center stage in marketing when done in the correct manner. Ideally, the costs involved in the creation, publishing and promotion of such content is usually low compared to the benefits attained.

The tools and opportunities are present. However, this is not merely about building the content and then sitting back waiting for targeted population to come on. You probably have done all these things but the question remains, “how can you build your online community?” Listed above are some of the secrets to help you build one. Good luck!

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