What is a community?
An online community refers to a group of individuals who come together on digital platforms to share common interests, values, or goals.
These communities can be centered around various topics, such as hobbies, professional interests, or social causes, and can range in size from small, tight-knit groups to large, diverse networks.
Building and nurturing an online community is crucial for brands and individuals looking to foster meaningful connections, drive engagement, and create a sense of belonging among their audience.
Why is community important online?
There is immense value for creators and brands that can pull together a group of people with common interests, for different reasons:
- Enhanced engagement: A strong social media community can lead to increased engagement, as users are more likely to interact with content that resonates with their interests and values. By creating and sharing content that appeals to their community, brands can foster deeper connections with their audience and encourage likes, comments, and shares.
- Brand loyalty and advocacy: When users feel a sense of belonging within a social media community, they are likelier to become loyal supporters and advocates for the brand or individual behind the community. This loyalty can increase word-of-mouth referrals, positive reviews, and a stronger overall brand reputation.
- Valuable feedback and insights: Social media communities provide invaluable feedback and insights for brands and individuals. By monitoring community discussions and interactions, brands can better understand their audience's needs, preferences, and pain points, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and improve their products or services.
- Increased reach and visibility: An active and engaged social media community can help increase a brand's reach and visibility. As users interact with and share content within the community, they expose the brand to their broader social network, potentially attracting new followers and customers.
What are the types of online communities and how do I find one?
Online communities exist in different formats and on diverse platforms. There are many ways to gather like-minded people in a one place. Every type of online community can fit into one of four categories:
- Messaging apps like Whatsapp and Telegram
- Chat rooms like Slack and Discord (where the Buffer community gathers)
- Forums like Reddit and Quora
- Social media groups like Facebook Groups, Instagram Close Friends and Twitter Circles
How to find an online community
You can find online communities in different ways. Here are some practical recommendations to try.
- Google “communities for [INSERT SPECIFIC TERM]”. A search for “communities for Roblox gamers” brings up a list of the top Discord servers within the niche as the first result.
- Follow people within the niche or industry that you want to participate in. Chances are, they have their own community you can join or they’ve recommended several in the past
- Subscribe to newsletters within your niche and industry. They are typically accompanied by communities of their own (media and pop culture newsletter, Garbage Day, also operates a paid Discord community)
Tips for building and nurturing an online community
Creating a community is one thing, but growing a valuable one takes more time and effort than you might think. Here are some tips to guide you as you navigate the process
- Define your target audience: Before creating a social media community, it is essential to identify your target audience and understand their interests, values, and motivations. This information can help inform your content strategy and ensure that your community appeals to the right users.
- Create engaging and relevant content: The foundation of a strong social media community is engaging and relevant content. Focus on creating content that addresses your audience's needs, sparks conversations, and encourages interaction.
- Encourage participation and interaction: Foster a sense of belonging within your social media community by actively encouraging participation and interaction. Respond to comments, ask questions, and invite users to share their thoughts and experiences.
- Be authentic and transparent: These two values are key to building trust and credibility within your social media community. Openly share your brand's values, mission, and goals, and strive to create genuine connections with your audience.
- Monitor and adapt: Regularly monitor your community's performance, paying close attention to engagement, growth, and sentiment. Use this data to inform your strategy, making adjustments as needed to better serve your community and achieve your goals.