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Building online communities

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Do you need an online community?

Posted by Janice Scheckter on 14 November 2019 3:00 PM CAT
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The audience around brands, organisations, and causes need a place. That place is one of connection, trust, listening, insights, sharing, and optimization, thanks to a digital world. So, to answer as to whether you think you need a community, refer above.

But there’s a deeper dive that one can take to ascertain whether you need a community and what the derived value may be.

Take a look at your current environment and evaluate how you communicate and how you engage with your audience? Remember that communication and engagement are not the same.

Let’s unpack communication first. If you’ve committed some strategic planning you’ve possibly segmented your communication according to a stakeholder mapping matrix. This may mean that you’re communicating more regularly to those with high interest and high influence, and less frequently to those with high interest but low influence? You may even make use of a blog where comments are possible. This is still not engagement, and those high influence stakeholders remain unengaged.

How do you ensure that you leverage off the communications investment you've already made, where audience journeys are optimised? What we mean by that is taking your stakeholders on a journey where the early champions within the community will start engaging in ways that enable you to listen and start learning.

You may learn about how stakeholders want to engage, how they are driven to make a contribution to your product, the community, progress etc.

See your community as a growing ideation and innovation team, as a place for real-time insights and as a place to learn at an exponential pace. Building an insights community can be very effective for organizations with research as a top priority, for example. If you implement incentivisation, like rewarding contributions with points, badges, and coupons for real-life rewards, your community could thrive and grow beyond the limits of your current audience.

If you have an audience that you communicate to today with the hope of engagement, understand what that engagement may look like, and start thinking about your online community. Next, we start exploring the ‘how’.

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