Building an online community is the new version of the blog craze of the early 2000s. It’s something that seems so accessible, so straightforward, and yet it can be an uphill battle for the vast majority of those trying to accomplish it.
To help you make that climb, we’re going to be going through the community-building practices that will help you succeed in your mission. We’ll also be covering specific tools, like group emails, that can help you streamline the process.
Best practices to follow when building a community digitally
Below are the best community-building practices to follow in 2021. Each one will help you strengthen a different aspect of your community-building strategy, so be sure to use a mix of the following tips rather than just one or two.
- Streamlining your communication with a group email platform
The first tried and tested method of our community building practices is to use a group email platform. Email is one of the most ubiquitous communication methods of today and you don’t need a special app or even much of a budget to get started. Group SMS, on the other hand, is shoddy, disorganized, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, pretty annoying.
Group email platforms (like the one here at Gaggle) can make building a community far easier. You can easily add people to your mailing list, set certain community members up as moderators, and ensure that everyone is always in the loop.
You’ll find that keeping track of your community members and organizing events is far easier this way. Plus, Gaggle comes with a plethora of features that will empower your community management even further. Check it out!
- Setting up a feedback system
Next, you’ll want to set up a feedback system. The last thing anyone in a community wants to be is unheard. Otherwise, it’s just a mailing list and not a community.
So to build this crucial aspect of your community, you want to have some sort of feedback system in place. Your group email can act as a feedback system if you like, or you could set up a separate email address for your group that just takes suggestions. That way, feedback is separate from the rest of your group email conversations.
Another solid avenue for collecting feedback is using social media. We’ll dive into social media more later, but for feedback, you could just create a weekly post/thread in your social media platform of choice where members can submit and discuss feedback for your community.
- Strive for 10% participation
The third item on our list of community-building practices is tied to participation. In an ideal world, we would always be getting 100% participation from all of our community members, all of the time.
In reality, this is never the case. You can see this on any social media platform – a person will nearly always (even when they’re a popular influencer) have a comparatively small amount of engagement compared to their followers/subscribers.
This is not the reflection of a problem within that particular community, but more so a natural result of how people interact online. At any given time, you should only expect to have about 10% engagement from your followers. The remaining 90% might just be away from their phone, not interested in the post, someone who likes but doesn’t comment or comments but doesn’t like, etc.
Just know that 10% is the norm. If you’re hitting that number, you’re doing well. And if you’re not, then you may need to rework your strategy to create more excitement and engagement with your group.
- Put your social media platforms to work
Love it or hate it, social media is far and away one of the most important community-building practices. It’s how most people stay updated on current events and personal interests. Your community most likely falls into both of those categories.
If you’re not particularly social media savvy, don’t worry! It’s not hard to find abundant resources online for learning the ins and outs of posting to social media regularly. You can also schedule posts in advance using a platform like MeetEdgar, Hootsuite, or Zapier. Or you could even hire a virtual assistant for managing your social media accounts.
- Organize in-person events if possible
This next suggestion for community-building practices will depend on the nature of your group. But if you happen to be building a community where meeting in person makes sense, then make sure to organize meetups!
In-person meetups are an excellent way to strengthen your community. Members will have opportunities to build friendships, get to know you, and feel more involved in their community. This is almost sure to have a positive impact on the success of your community.
As far as scheduling these meetups goes, you’ll want to make sure that it’s during a time that a majority of your community members will be available. Choosing a neutral place, like a public park, is also a good idea.
Just make sure to balance your in-person events with your online presence. Some of your members might prefer interacting over the internet rather than in person.
- Start with a niche and expand from there
Another key strategy on this list of community-building practices is to narrow your niche. Anyone who’s successfully built a following online can tell you that starting with a niche will make it easier to expand and grow.
For starters, a niche will target an audience more directly and help you stand out. For example, trying to build a community of fly fishing enthusiasts in North Dakota would be easier than trying to build a community of fishermen in general, since your audience is more likely to be a close-knit group.
Secondly, a niche will simplify the requirements on your end. It’s easier to target a specific audience because you know exactly where to direct your efforts.
And thirdly, if you want to expand beyond that niche, you can! Starting small doesn’t mean staying small. As your small community grows, you’ll spot opportunities to grow beyond your niche naturally.
Start using these community-building practices today with Gaggle
If you’re ready to take the first step towards building a community, then Gaggle can help. Our group email service is free for up to 1,000 members, and you get all of the core features you need to start the foundation for a successful community!