Why Do Brands Need Their Own Online Community Platform?

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An Online Community is something we are all familiar with. For more than 10 years social networks have been playing a significant role in our lives. By 2021 the number of social network users is expected to encompass half the world’s population. The increase of social network use has opened many business opportunities for companies. In the beginning, it may have been enough to post once daily. Today, much more interaction is needed due to increasing competition and changing algorithms. The organic reach of business pages rarely exceeds 7% and is normally 2-3%. Without paid promotion, minimal posting no longer works. In addition to the advertising costs (which sometimes can be up to $1,000 dollars per month), brands began to wonder how to stand out among the huge mass of information that users see in their news feed, and most importantly, how to identify and create advocates for their brand.

 

This, and several other questions can be solved by a branded online community platform. In recent years, marketing strategies have been transformed into a community-based model. A community-based model focuses on communicating to an individual rather than creating a general message for the masses. Online communities allow you to create deeper engagement and make it possible to direct 100% of the user's attention to the brand.

 

How Do Online Communities Differ from Social Networks?

 

  • full control over the content, internal rules, and algorithms

  • full access to user data for better segmentation

  • the ability to add any missing functionality (for example, advanced gamification)

  • focus is directed to your brand only

How can an online community help your business? 

It depends on the tasks of a company - from increasing sales by using an open community to developing an internal corporate culture by using a closed internal community for employees. Let’s take a look at strategies in more detail: 

 

User acquisition

The online community can act as a full-fledged channel for growing your traffic. These capabilities allow you to connect advanced gamification features that can be used in various marketing campaigns - from a referral program to specially created contests. In addition, the open type community can be a source of traffic from search engines and enhance your SEO strategy.

 

User engagement and brand advocacy

A brand advocate is a user who constantly chooses your product and actively recommends it to friends and family. People tend to trust personal recommendations five times more than an advertisement. Some brands aren’t even aware of their super fans. Since the platform collects data on user activity within the community, a business can now identify and advertise to the most active members thus increasing loyalty.

 

Content management tool

If a business is faced with the task of motivating users to create content, the best solution would be to launch a community with gamification elements. Remember how Google Maps solved the problem with photos and reviews? Google created a gated community of Local Guides and incentivized them by rewarding points for each review or photo. These points were then used to reach higher levels. Similar mechanics can be embedded in entertainment and news portals, creative communities, and other content projects.

 

Customer support

Most of the technical problems consist of when users repeat each other. To find a solution in just a few minutes, the user simply needs to search in the community forum for a similar problem. This, in turn, will reduce the load on technical support and increase the speed of responses for more complex cases.

 

Product development

Existing forms of gathering feedback include questionnaires and surveys. User information gathered from questionnaires can be conveniently structured. However, this information is closed and the interaction format itself does not allow you to discuss any features collectively. Further, feedback can be received late because polls are not conducted on an ongoing basis. Social networks can organize open communication, but the information cannot be structured automatically. In addition, users may not see your publication due to the algorithms. The combination of these two methods is their online community - the information is discussed openly, collectively, and can be structured.

 

It is imperative to receive timely feedback from users. The online community can better reveal global wishes, problems, or general patterns. Precise information can be gathered by the online community.  Blogging will motivate users to give feedback; positive and negative. A startup company can learn how to evolve after launching. Product development will be based on learning which features the user found complicated, or which products were more successful sellers, thus identifying better target marketing strategies. 

 

Internal corporate portal

In addition to external business tasks, a company may face the problem of organizing internal interaction between departments or individual employees. A creative team with many ideas can influence business just as much as a successful promotion. The online community will be able to automate and complement any HR strategy. Gamification is a trend not only in commercial projects but is also a universal tool to increase engagement.

 

A community can now perform several functions at once. For example, the community can attract new customers, help identify the most active users, and turn them into brand advocates.  This, in turn, brings in new users to the community. In addition, communication with other users will help reduce the load on the technical support team. The object of this activity is to determine clear business goals and KPIs.



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