Most entrepreneurs faced a pivoting point during the pandemic, whether it was shutting down business or getting innovative with it. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges many faced was figuring out how to keep the community they’ve built thriving. With in-person interaction cut off and more consumers online than ever, solving this problem fast was a big priority.
One study conducted showed that people are more likely to invest in online communities during crisis, trauma, or major life changes. So, the current climate of business is offering many entrepreneurs the opportunity to build and strengthen a community around their brand.
This may come naturally to those who hopped on the social media train years ago when sites like Facebook and Instagram started popping up, but to others, this came as a new and difficult challenge. If done right, having a strong digital presence that encourages engagement can serve these consumers and position entrepreneurs as leaders in their industry. This can also help their growth when the crisis is over.
Think of it this way, if you want to create a loyal community around your brand, you have to think about long-term goals for your business. The biggest theme we’ve seen throughout the pandemic is brands giving back during a time of crisis. Here are some other notable ways to create and maintain a thriving community during a global pandemic:
Have a Call-to-Action
You cannot assume that people will automatically be interested in your community. The most successful online communities are those in which the leader (or creator) of the community and customers a part of it are actively calling on others to join, engage, and share. It’s almost like a digital word-of-mouth interaction.
New and potential members will often get a feel for the group by looking at engagement on their first post or comment. You want to make sure they feel seen and heard, so be sure to respond quickly. Encouraging members to welcome newbies is a great way to make anyone feel welcome, too!
Be an Active Community Leader
This isn’t the time to go rogue or silent on social media. In fact, many entrepreneurs that have done so have seen many negative effects on their brand. Consumers want transparency, and they can’t receive this if there is no one showing up online. The goal here is to be an active community leader by posting updates on your business, answering questions and posts directly in a timely manner, and trying out products/services through live video sessions.
There are more individuals online now than at the beginning of 2020. So, utilizing the digital space should be implemented into your business strategies.
Give Insightful Information
When creating a community, you always want to give more than you receive. It’s important to position yourself as a go-to resource within your industry by providing insightful information. If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably noticed the trend of sharing useful information, helpful tips, resources, and tools.
Being aware of what’s happening in your market, asking questions, and looking for opportunities to serve your community through the creation of new materials can boost your brand in many ways. Take some time to thoroughly research these things. This will ensure your next steps are in the right direction.
Be There for Your Community
Sometimes your customers need more than a product and service to help them with a problem they’re facing. They need someone to listen and confide in. Your community isn’t any different. By showing that you are here for them, you open up a realm of genuine communication that makes a relationship stronger.
A great example of this is our eWomenNetwork Facebook page. We get messages from entrepreneurs worldwide about the difficulties they’re facing or challenges they’ve triumphed. It’s a great way for us to be there for our community through hard times and also celebrate the good. Ultimately, you want to be a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with or vent to. These little conversations make a big difference.
After researching the market, many successful communities are those that are multifaceted. Meaning they go out of their industry and realm of business to offer more value to their consumers depending on the current market climate. People enjoy discussing multiple interests with like-minded people online, which is a crucial need in times of crisis.
Be open to what you talk about within your community and marketing messages. Don’t restrict yourself to one topic of category. For example, let’s say you own a bakery that’s cultivating a baking-related community (this could work for any industry and profession depending on the situation). Don’t just start conversations about baking at home as a new hobby. Instead, encourage discussion about other areas of life, like cooking healthier meals, creating a side business, snacks for children who are homeschooled, even giving back to the community by fundraising through virtual bake sales. You don’t have to be an expert in each area to create a meaningful connection, you just have to start the conversation.
Once the conversation gets going, actively listen to what others have to say. What are they struggling with? What advice would you give to them? Your community will keep coming back if you can become a one-stop-shop for engaging and insightful interactions with others.
Everyone wants to connect with others who can relate to their situation and creating a space for them to do so can be life-changing. No matter where you are in your journey to creating a community, keep these tips in mind. They come in handy when you reach a roadblock.