Are you part of something bigger than yourself, like an online community? How about your business – has it created its own community of followers? Networking online is a prerequisite to ensuring you’ve got a brand identity your customers want to recommend to everyone they associate with. Growing a relevant brand requires buy-in from your customers, and you can control the narrative when you create your own social network community.
Call it ‘communities’ or personal networks, in life and business, we all need people on our side and part of our team. When you go to college, you have all kinds of community available to you, and this networking continues in adulthood. When you get an apartment, you meet some local residents, have a BBQ and build a community. See the pattern?
The rugged individualist is among the worst cultural myths as there really is no such thing. Success in your career and in business depends on creating a community. So, what types of communities do new businesses need?
Researching online presents a lot of worthwhile reading on the topic of communities. However, don’t just be a lurker. Get involved and join in the conversation of other business networks. Experience and learning require taking action and witnessing the feedback and interaction so you, too, can create a community that supports your plan and delivers sales.
Create an online community for your customers, advocates, suppliers and so on. Your business profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, will keep you and your team busy.
Have a plan
Your social media community needs a strategy and comms plan which can start with your team’s involvement in your business goals for growth. For example, how does your business get sales, new and returning customers and become a leader in its category or market?
Working together to design and create campaigns and posts within your social media profiles will inspire more people to follow and share your content with their networks.
Much of what is done in social media is almost impossible to measure; however, today’s read or share may be a sale tomorrow.
Social Media platforms are worldwide, so the ability to scale your business across geographic barriers is the main drawcard for companies of all sizes. As soon as possible, create a social media team to dedicate a few work hours weekly to your social media communities.
Service or Product Support
Depending on your offering, whether a service like SaaS or merchandise, your business needs a support team dedicated to looking after customer enquiries pre and post-sales. Use technology to make higher work of your helpdesk. For example, chatbots are ubiquitous, with more than 1.4 billion people using them.
Techs like AI and machine learning manage the lion’s share of chatbot calls. Most queries are repetitive, and AI can escalate calls to a real person when required. For example, when a customer needs to check the color or size of a product while going through the online purchasing process. The retail chatbot can resolve the query within seconds and the customer completes their purchase.
A customer support community via online discussion forums or message boards is a perfect way to collaborate with your customers and advocates to help everyone who needs support. By offering the service, your customers can form a support community for your business. Of course, you will need to moderate your community to make sure no one has joined as a way to sell to your customers!
While the openness of the service does come with the challenge that competitors may join to encourage your customers to buy from them, it offers more upside than downside.
At any time, you can reach out to your support community for feedback on your offerings. Plus, your visitor traffic increases when your support community is on your website, and their posts are new content, which is good for SEO.
Perception is everything, so be pervasive in your community-building strategy to reach more customers more often. Here’s an article on machine learning and data protection.
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