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6 Ways To Make Your Site A Community

6 Ways To Make Your Site A Community

6 Ways To Make Your Site A Community

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People generally want two things: to be heard and to interact. One-way communication from brands to audiences isn’t the way things work online anymore. Brand loyalty is created when users feel like they are a part of a conversation and not just being talked at. Building an online community can begin with setting up a Facebook page, but it shouldn’t stop there: social media presence and activity is just one aspect of online community.

See Also: 5 CREATIVE WAYS TO INTEGRATE SOCIAL MEDIA INTO YOUR WEBSITE

Making your website an interactive community is achievable. It’s not hard, but cultivating it takes some effort and isn’t an exact science. By following these six practical steps, you can turn your corner of the internet into a loyal and active hub.

Make It Interactive, Then Interact

Online communities give users a way to interact with each other and with you. Wherever there are interactions, there is a community. Allowing for comments is the easiest way to achieve this, but there are other ways too. For instance, hosting live-streams takes a bit more work, but they can drum up interest better than ordinary comment threads can.

This raises another point: interaction is a two-way street. If you, your company or your brand is the reason that people are visiting the site, engage with them! Give them something more than just another press release: join in the discussion, have some fun, and remind visitors that there are people behind the logo. This sort of reciprocity can help foster a lively community and strengthen brand loyalty.

Make It Human

The computer screen can be an antisocial place. If your users aren’t sure they are talking to actual humans, they’re less likely to talk at all. Creating staff profiles on your site is a great way to introduce your team to your community and provide easy conversation starters. Including real life anecdotes in your articles and posts is another good way to turn your brand into something relatable. Finally, let users create profiles with avatars, ‘About Me’ sections, and the like – and be sure to fill yours out!

But why stop there? If you want people to know that you exist offline, why not meet offline? Hosting a simple meet-and-greet is a great way to get your community to put faces to names and know they’re appreciated. That sense of appreciation is key to holding communities together. As an added bonus, you’ll get plenty of pictures and videos out of it, which can extend the event’s reach online.

Allow Input & Personalization

To have a true community is to pay attention to its wants and needs. Listen to your users when they have ideas on how to improve their experience on your site and make sure they feel heard. If they think you’re neglecting their feedback, they’re more likely to leave.

Beyond getting input from your users to help shape what your site offers, you can also provide them with a unique, personalized experience. ‘People like you also enjoyed…’ recommendations will not only show your users content related to their own likes and interests but will also foster relatability with other community members. You may also consider including ‘What’s trending…’ suggestions, as these contribute to creating a shared experience for the whole group.

Make It Fun

Gamification in online communities is nothing new. Quantifying appreciation and engagement with post counts, reactions, ranks and leaderboards has the effect of turning online interactions into a game, and gamified activities are virtually always more motivating. By finding ways to reward engagement, you can help make your site intrinsically gratifying and make it feel like a real community.

See Also: LET’S PLAY! HOW GAMIFICATION CAN ENHANCE YOUR SITE

Provide Something Unique

“If you build it, they will come” is not the whole story: you have to give people something that stands out – that they can’t get anywhere else – to draw them in and keep them coming back. Useful information is the universal attractor, so make sure that your site is nothing short of a well of knowledge. The trick to fostering a community around your content is to incentivise your users to become a secondary source of knowledge by providing them with resources such as daily tips, video tutorials, infographics, Q&A sessions, and curated articles. This will keep them talking about your content and help one another when questions or discussions arise.

See Also: MICRO MOMENTS AND MICROINTERACTIONS – TINY BIG IDEAS

Be Friendly

Now that all the nitty-gritty has been tackled, remember that a friendly, casual, conversational tone goes a long way to building brand loyalty. A good sense of humour can keep a community running smoothly, seeing it through any rough patches with charm and aplomb. Finally, even better than acting nice is being nice: a little corporate social responsibility is good for the world, good for the brand, and always a smash with the community. So put a little love in your heart and start generating that goodwill, Scrooge!

Your website should be a welcoming, engaging, and comfortable place for your users. Invite people in, encourage participation, talk to them, get them talking to each other, and pepper in the occasional event or special content. Really, starting an online community is like hosting a party where nobody knows each other. With a little encouragement, a lot of attentiveness, and the right amount of self-involvement, you can create that vibrant community and launch brand loyalty through the roof. Just don’t panic if nobody shows up right away. People always arrive later than you think they will, but if you keep at it, they’re sure to arrive.

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