For the most part, humans are incredibly social creatures. We make so many decisions based on others’ opinions, circumstances, and benefits. Can you guess what type of individual cares about the opinions and actions of others the most? That’s right, it’s business owners! Not only do business owners want their product or service to be successful, but there’s A LOT of money at stake. Nobody wants their brain child to be a total flop. Anyway, many businesses are either starting to migrate or are already based online. Either way, it’s obvious that most businesses need somewhat of a digital presence. So how on earth are they supposed to establish and interact with their customers and fans online? Well there are actually many options!
Commenting is one of the easiest forms of implementing online interaction! Almost every site allows for comments and it’s a pretty simple process to moderate. On WordPress, I actually have a designated area in my dashboard to monitor comments. I’m allowed to like, reply and approve all new comments in a matter of minutes. The one thing that is incredibly important about using a commenting feature on your site is that you need to consistently moderate new comments coming in. Trust me, nothing looks worse that a bunch of one-sided conversations from your fans. It looks like you don’t actually care about your followers to the public, and that’s not an image that you want to have.
Forums are a wonderful space for your community members to ask EACH OTHER questions! Not only does this take a lot of pressure off of you as the moderator, but it also encourages so much more engagement between your followers that is also easy to follow. You can either have your very own online forum or create a subreddit within the Reddit platform. In case you have never used Reddit before, check out this beginner’s guide. This is the best type of communication for your audience if your product or service is very detailed and elicits a lot of questions from your user base.
If you’re looking for specific feedback from your community, then a survey is the way to go! You can use extremely user-friendly sites, such as surveymonkey.com, to create very unique and intuitive surveys. I love using these because you can customize what types of questions you would like to be answered and the sense of anonymity gives your survey-takers a sense of freedom in what they say. I would suggest actually taking survey answers into heavy consideration. If you are asking for honest feedback from the people that can make or break your business, then you shouldn’t dismiss their input right off the back.
Now I know I bring up email marketing quite a bit on here, but that’s because it’s been proven to be highly effective in converting sales! If you plan on sending out emails, I suggest you send them from a valid email address where someone is actually monitoring the replies. This can be a daunting task, especially as your subscriber list grows and grows, but it’s worth doing in the long run. So many generations of people are used to using email by this point, that we’ve almost become trained to scan our inbox for emails from our favorite places. There are so many different kinds of emails you can create to stir up some engagement, which I wrote about here.
Contests are an awesome way to go to create a virtual community! Through contests you can generate referrals, social sharing, and overnight brand ambassadors. Be prepared: contests can take a lot of prep work and consistent oversight. If you promise something up front, you NEED to be able to deliver when the contest closes. Not only is is illegal in the state of California to conduct a contest under false pretenses, it will also soil your brand’s reputation. You can start of small with something like free branded merchandise or a gift card, and then work your way up to cash prizes and/or entertainment-centered items. There are so many people out there that enter contests daily, that might stumble across your brand.
I hope these ideas help you foster a community of your followers online! No matter which or how many of these options you explore, remember to have your own virtual presence and to respond back! See you next week 🙂
Infographic of the Week:
Question of the Week:
How much do you engage with brands online?