9 Powerful Strategies to Build an Online Community 
If you're an online business, brand or content creator, establishing a vibrant online community is a highly effective way of fostering valuable relationships with your audience, and can also bring about an array of benefits in the process. For this reason, having the ability to build a community from the ground up is not just nice-to-have, but an essential part of digital marketing in 2023 and beyond.
However, building a community is not an easy pursuit by any means, and given how most industries are saturated with competitors, marketers are finding it increasingly difficult to grow sizeable and engaged online communities. The good news is that there are best practices that can significantly increase the likelihood of success, andthis guide will share 10 of the most valuable strategies that will help you to unleash your full community building potential!
By the time you are done reading this, you'll be in a much better position to cultivate a great community that not only connects deeply with your audience, but also propels your brand to new heights.
Learn how to build your community starting today!
Understanding the Importance of an Online Community
The first step in building a successful online community is to first understand its importance, and the benefits that come along with having one. The reason for this is simple — only through having a proper understanding will you be able to truly see its worth, which in turn will further encourage you to put in the time and work required.
What is a community, and why is it worth having one?
Put simply, a community refers to a group of people who connect and interact with each other due to shared interests in things such as business, entertainment and social movements; to name a few. These communities are usually formed and held together through social media channels, community forums, or dedicated community platforms, and these provide a space for members to share ideas, discuss common interests, collaborate, and develop relationships.
Different types of online communities
Below is a list of popular platforms where various types of online communities can often be found:
It is important to note that whilst these communities are often built by members,it is becoming much more common to see businesses and organizations creating communities themselves, and with a clear goal in mind — growth.
But before enacting any community strategies, it is crucial to know your target audience, as understanding who your desired community members are will help you to tailor your strategies, develop community guidelines, and create initiatives that resonate with them.
So without further delay, let's have a look at 10 tried-and-tested strategies that can help your business create an online community that is full of like-minded individuals who have a shared interest in your business.
10 Strategies To Build An Online Community
Below are a list of 9 strategies that will help you to grow a vibrant online community in 2023 and beyond.
1. Gamification and reward systems
Strategy: Foster engagement and encourage participation within your community by implementing a gamified rewards system.
Practical approach: One highly effective strategy is to motivate active community members by rewarding them with exclusive perks, such as rewards, discounts or other enticing prizes. This strategy plays a crucial role in encouraging participation in various tasks related to your company's objectives. However, it's important to ensure that the rewards are meaningful and align with the interests of your community members, as this will keep them engaged and motivated. Consider implementing business giveaway ideas that can help galvanize community participation.
Benefits: A community platform that incorporates gamification can greatly improve user engagement and retention, leading to growth. By rewarding users for their participation, they are more likely to stay active, become brand advocates, and possibly even turn into loyal customers. This strategy not only helps retain existing customers, but also attracts new members through word-of-mouth promotion, indirectly contributing to business growth.
Strategy: Create exclusive live webinars, Q&A sessions, or workshops specifically for community members. These events will offer valuable and unique experiences for participants, and will certainly increase community engagement.
Practical approach: Take advantage of these events to offer valuable resources, like expert business advice or tutorials. Promote networking opportunities among members to foster relationships and cultivate a strong sense of community.
Benefits: Hosting exclusive events allows your brand to establish itself as a trusted expert in your industry, drawing more people to join your community for the chance to access one-of-a-kind experiences and valuable insights. Additionally, these events can be utilized to introduce new offerings, gather feedback, and strengthen customer loyalty. Ultimately, this can lead to increased sales and overall business expansion.
3. Member spotlight
Strategy: Showcase the accomplishments and narratives of community members to foster a sense of belonging and honor their contributions.
Practical approach: A great way to encourage community engagement and participation is by creating a "Member of the Month" feature. This can involve sharing the story or achievements of a standout member on your platform and social media. If you have multiple members who deserve recognition, you can either create a group of winners, or use a giveaway picker to randomly choose one.
Benefits: By showcasing members and their stories, you not only foster a sense of belonging within the community but also demonstrate the real-world impact of your products and services. Prospective customers who see these stories might be inspired to join the community and engage with your brand, which could potentially boost customer acquisition and retention.
4. Utilize user-generated content (UGC)
Strategy: Foster a sense of authenticity and relatability by encouraging members to generate and share their own content about your brand or community.
Practical approach: Engage your audience by creating hashtag competitions or challenges to showcase the best user-generated content (UGC) on your platform. This not only acknowledges the creators, but also provides new and diverse content. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram are ideal for conducting these contests. To streamline UGC contests, consider using a dedicated contest platform that offers comprehensive features. This allows participants to enter easily, and also includes mandatory tasks like retweeting the competition, or getting a certain number of people to sign up.
Benefits: User-generated content (UGC) can be a highly effective marketing tool, as it provides genuine and relatable content that connects with potential customers. By incorporating UGC, you not only show appreciation for your community members, but also highlight your products and services in real-life situations. This can boost brand credibility and appeal to new customers.
5. Create sub-communities
Strategy: Despite common belief, it is possible to have diverse communities within a larger umbrella. To address this, forming smaller, niche groups that cater to specific interests or demographics can be beneficial.
Practical approach: Start by gathering feedback from your community using various tools to understand their common interests or demographics. Once you've identified different subsections within your community, create dedicated groups or forums for each, ensuring that every member has a space they can connect with within the larger community. These steps are crucial in building an inclusive community.
Benefits: Sub-communities can meet the unique needs and interests of different demographic groups, offering tailored experiences and promoting increased involvement. These specialized groups can also function as targeted feedback channels for specific products or services, allowing you to refine your offerings and improve customer satisfaction, ultimately driving business growth.
6. Implement a mentorship program
Strategy: Create mentorship programs that match experienced community members with newcomers. This will help foster relationships and provide guidance to new members as they navigate the community.
Practical approach: Implement a mentorship program that provides guidance from experienced members to newcomers, allowing them to navigate and contribute effectively. To streamline this process, it is recommended for the company to hire an experienced community manager who can oversee the mentorship program. Additionally, recruiting experienced volunteers within the community to handle community management tasks can be beneficial. The creation of educational resources such as online courses, quizzes, and video breakdowns will further enhance the learning experience for mentees.
Benefits: Implementing a mentorship program can promote knowledge sharing and cultivate a supportive community atmosphere. This network of support can improve member retention and generate brand ambassadors who attract new members and customers through positive word-of-mouth, ultimately driving business growth. Additionally, the investment needed is minimal, with the only expense being the hiring of a full-time community manager whose contributions will actually yield long-term cost savings.
7. Regular feedback loops
Strategy: Continuously engage with the community and actively incorporate their feedback to ensure ongoing improvement and alignment with the members' needs.
Practical approach: You should regularly conduct polls or feedback sessions with your community. If you receive overwhelming feedback that requires action, make visible changes based on that input, or at the very least, let your community know that you take their feedback seriously. Showing that you value and act upon their input is crucial.
Benefits: Regular feedback from your target audience can provide you with valuable insights into their needs and preferences. This allows you to refine your products, services, and overall customer experiences to better meet their expectations. By actively implementing this feedback, you not only improve customer satisfaction and loyalty within your community but also increase the chances of retaining current customers and acquiring new ones. Ultimately, by creating a welcoming environment where members feel at home, they become advocates for your business and contribute to its growth.
8. Community-driven initiatives
Strategy: Building communities often relies on grassroots initiatives. Allowing community members to propose and lead their own initiatives can be an effective strategy. This approach fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among community members.
Practical approach: One effective method is to utilize a social network platform that enables members to submit their ideas and garner support from others. This fosters continuous development within the community, ensuring that it caters to the needs and interests of its members. You can establish an internal or external forum, as well as various social media groups or channels.
Additionally, organizing in-person meet-ups allows online community members to engage in collaborative initiatives. However, it is essential to appoint moderators who can maintain a positive and constructive environment throughout these interactions.
Benefits: Engaging your community in driving initiatives can generate innovation and bring fresh ideas to your business. Empowering members to take the lead not only builds brand loyalty and keeps them invested, but also uncovers potential opportunities for product/service enhancements that can fuel business growth. So, remember to leverage your community's potential for growth by implementing this strategy.
9. Cross-promotion with other communities
Strategy: Lastly, an effective strategy for fostering mutual growth and providing added value to community members is partnering with other communities or brands.
Practical approach: This can be achieved through co-hosting events, sweepstakes, challenges, or content that exposes each group to the other's audience. By doing so, fresh perspectives are gained and networking and collaboration opportunities arise. It is important to ensure that both communities have a significant presence on the chosen social media platforms used for promoting this partnership in order to effectively attract members from the other community.
Benefits: Cross-promotion allows your brand to reach new audiences, which can lead to the acquisition of new members and customers. Partnering with other businesses to provide additional value enhances member satisfaction and loyalty. It also opens up opportunities to target new markets and demographics, ultimately driving business growth.
There are certain steps to building an online community that businesses cannot afford to neglect, so the strategies listed above will prove invaluable for creating a group of passionate supporters. If implemented correctly, these people will end up being your biggest advocates on social networks like Facebook or Linkedin; just to name a few.
But while these tried-and-tested strategies will no doubt serve you well, there are still additional variables that can impact whether you end up with a vibrant community or not, and this includes making sure you choose the most suitable social media platform for your target audience, hiring the right community manager to oversee things, and continually listening to your members. All of these things are needed to fully enjoy the benefits of an online community.
But things take time, and if you are starting from scratch, you need to take advantage of software to streamline the process. For this reason, it is recommended that you look into community building platforms, and one that will no doubt catch your attention is Tropee, which is currentlythe most well-rounded platform for growing communities through contests, giveaways, and rewards.
We hope you enjoyed this guide to building an online community, and best of luck with your building efforts moving forward!