How an online community can help you grow your business?

As a business owner, you are always on the lookout for new sales channels and new avenues on how to grow your business.  You may not realize it, but the most powerful tool you could have is actually within your reach.  Or more specifically, it is just one click away.

While traditional media such as TV and radio still remain as popular choices in advertising, there is a new rising platform that businesses should not ignore, and that is the online community. To put it simply, an online community is a gathering of like-minded people in the same digital space. This is an expanded version of the “club” conversations, as they are not limited by the constraints of time and distance – people can talk to each other 24 hours a day, from any part of the world that has internet access. 

Online communities have grown in popularity in direct correlation to the increase in internet usage and social media penetration worldwide.  This is because consumers are getting tired of the increasing noise in traditional media as brands fight more fiercely for their attention. To help them filter the enormous amount of information being fed to them every hour, consumers have created their own path to discovery about the products they hear about, and that is through talking to each other in their exclusive digital space.

But if consumers go to these groups to avoid noise from brands, how can a business benefit from an online community? If you manage it correctly, there are plenty of ways your business can benefit from an online community.  

  1. It fosters customer loyalty

Compared to TV and radio that are detached and impersonal, online communities have allowed businesses to speak directly with their desired audience, even letting them call these customers by name during their conversations. This creates a stronger and more lasting bond between your business and the customer, as the customers are made to feel that they are heard, valued, and appreciated. This feeling of being respected, according to Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs, is one of highest human needs and will make them mark the experience in their memories. 

If you take advantage of this opportunity and communicate in ways that satisfy this basic need, you can create a loyal customer base that will support your business for a long time while also pulling in new customers to the group. 

  1. It introduces your brand to target customers who have not noticed you before

As the discussion about your business grows within the community, other members who have not heard of you or have not paid attention to you will begin to take notice.  This is because of herd mentality, or the way people's behavior can change in a group setting as they are influenced by their peers, sometimes pushing them towards decisions that are different than what they would have made individually.

This kind of group behavior can help you grow your business when you foster positive discussions about you within the community.  You can also create an atmosphere of desirability by generating content that highlights unique benefits that are valuable specifically to the members of the community.

  1. It creates advocates for your business

Lastly, an online community can help you grow your business by turning your customers into natural brand advocates. These are people who would preach about your brand out of their own initiative, and without expecting compensation. They do it to support the business because you have established a strong personal relationship with them during your involvement in the community. 

As more and more consumers turn to social media, forums, and communities for information about products or businesses, the role of the brand advocates become even more important. They have the power and the platform to elevate your brand and extend your reach even beyond the borders of the online community.

These are just some of the ways on how online communities can help you grow your business.  Specialized groups can also be utilized in other ways, such as providing customer insights that your business can use to improve on existing products or develop a new line. So if you can find the best online community to match your target profile and then manage it properly, you can enjoy the benefits and just watch as it helps you grow your business. 

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