Building a thriving community can be a game-changer for your business.
Why? Because today's consumers are much more thoughtful about the brands they engage with and seek to connect with companies that share their values.
They want to be part of something bigger than themselves and feel like they're participating in something meaningful. That's why it's so important to create a strong bond between you and your customers, so they can feel like they belong—and building a community can help you deliver that experience.
In this guide, we'll walk you through everything there is to know about building your community—from what it means and why it's essential for business growth; to the best ways of implementing a successful strategy.
Community is where people come together and share their experiences, stories, and knowledge with one another. It gives them a sense of connectedness to others with similar interests or passions.
You may already belong to a community, whether online or offline. But what makes it so special?
First and foremost, it allows you to involve your customers or interested parties in the deeper purpose behind your brand. Community helps you do that by providing an environment where people can contribute their own ideas, experiences, and expertise. It also allows you to bring your brand to life beyond just being a product or service; it lets your customers get behind what's at the core of your business.
A community can also be a great way to build customer relationships. It's one thing to give someone what they want, but it's another thing entirely to know them on a deeper level and be able to relate. You'll build trust with your audience by providing a space where people feel comfortable being themselves and sharing their experiences. This will help them see you as more than just a brand.
There are many types of communities, each designed with a specific purpose in mind. It's important to know what kind of community you're building because it will help you understand which people are likely to join and how best to reach them. Here are some common types of communities:
Community-building can greatly increase the value of your company, as well as its reputation. When people feel like they’re part of a community, they are more likely to engage with your brand and stay loyal. They'll also be more likely to refer others—creating exponential growth in business for you!
Here are some of the reasons you should consider building a community for your business:
Communities nurture connections that are genuine and authentic in many ways.
When you create a community, you give members a chance to connect directly with your business on a personal level, which helps build meaningful relationships over time. This is because you provide them with a space to share their experiences, which helps build trust as they gain more confidence in the brand. In turn, they will feel like they have more of a personal relationship with it, which helps to create a stronger bond between your company and its customers.
As your members interact with you over time, they will feel a growing connection to your brand. Communities help foster a sense of belonging, which makes customers feel more loyal and committed to your brand. This is because members have a chance to get involved and contribute their experiences, ideas, and insights to the discussion.
As this happens more often over time, members will start to feel that they have an ownership stake in the community—and that they have a responsibility to make it a success. This can lead to greater advocacy for your product or service, which helps spread the word about what you do.
An active community can provide key insights into your product or service that you may not have considered before. For example, a customer might report an issue with one of your products or services and suggest a way to fix it. Or, members might provide feedback on how they use your offerings in their daily lives and what new features they'd like added to make things easier.
These insights can help you spot trends in the market and understand how your audience uses your products and services. In addition, if you're looking for new ideas on what to develop next, a community can be an excellent place to receive input from your most loyal members.
A community-driven sales funnel is a highly effective way to generate leads because it allows you to identify people who are genuinely interested in what you offer. You can then invite them into your sales funnel with the appropriate content and offers and nurture them until they become customers or subscribers.
Building a community around your business gives it an edge over the competition. This is because it is a great way to stand out from the competition and attract new customers, as it allows you to create more relevant and valuable content than your competitors.
It's also a great way to get valuable insights about your target market. You can use this data to improve customer service and develop new products, which will help you gain a competitive advantage over your competitors.
One of the biggest benefits of a community, in particular, an online community, is that it provides a place where customers can find answers to their questions, which can help reduce your customer support costs by reducing the number of inquiries you receive. This can also be a great way for your company to find out what types of questions your customers have so that you can better anticipate their needs in the future.
By engaging with and listening to your members, you can learn more about what they want from your business. This knowledge can help you better tailor your offerings to meet the needs of different customer segments and increase overall satisfaction. Customers who feel like their voices are heard are more likely to stay loyal and recommend your brand to others.
Building a community is a lot like building any other type of business: it requires strategy and attention to detail. But if you want to create a community that people will love, there are a few key steps you should take that go beyond the basics.
Your community's identity and purpose are fundamental to its success. If your members don't feel like they belong, it's unlikely that they'll participate. In the initial stages, ask yourself: What sets your community apart? — This will help you determine what kind of members you want to attract and how you can use your space to grow.
The CMX Social Identity Cycle model suggests that people are more likely to participate in a community if it aligns with their identities, and they're also more inclined to do so when participation is rewarded in some way.
Taken together, these factors support and influence each other. That's why it's so important to get your branding firmly established before you try to attract new members.
Once you define what matters to your community, it will be easier to find potential members who share those visions. These people will understand what you are looking to accomplish by building this community and help with that effort. Remember to be thoughtful in the way you choose these first members. They will set the tone for your entire space, so they must represent what you want to see from other members.
Engaging in community-building activities is important to provide your members with something of value. This is because people won't join your space unless they feel that it provides them with something valuable. That value may be knowledge, insight, or connections, but whatever form it takes, people need to see how your space helps them before investing their time and energy into engaging with you.
To do so, it's essential to provide them with various opportunities. You can start by listening to their interests and needs and then providing them with information and solutions. This could be anything from gatherings to resources, tools, badges, or even opportunities to share their knowledge and experience with others. The key is that it needs to be something that motivates your members to continue engaging with you and each other.
As your space grows, it's important to acknowledge the people who helped get it off the ground. These are the people who believed in your vision and helped create it. They're the ones who'll be your most loyal and active members, so it's essential to show them that you care about their contributions.
Thank your founding members by giving them swag, inviting them to a special event, and thanking or acknowledging their contributions. You can also give discounts as well as opportunities such as leading a webinar or participating on a panel.
Encouraging current members to invite others is a great way to grow your community. People who are already engaged in the group are likely to know other people who could benefit from it as well.
You can incentivize engagement by making it clear to community members how their contributions are meaningful.
A company's choice of community platform can influence the ways its members communicate with each other. This is why companies should carefully consider their members’ needs when choosing a platform to support them.
It's important to find an all-inclusive platform that provides you with the right tools you need to organize and host events and keep your community connected and active.
With a platform like Bevy, you can elevate your interaction with your community members. You can use it to host events, conferences, and other gatherings for your members. You can also customize these events to match your company's brand and set user processes and permissions to access analytics within the platform as needed. As your community grows, the platform can scale to meet your needs—from adding more chapters to integrating with the rest of your tech stack.
Understanding your key stakeholders is crucial to building a strong and healthy community. Knowing who the key stakeholders in your community are can help you understand their needs and expectations, which will also allow you to identify where they fit into the overall structure of your community and how you can help play a role in its success.
While you may think they are the members themselves, there are multiple groups of stakeholders — including community managers and moderators.
The goal of this step is to create a complete picture of your community and how it will operate. A great way to start is by hiring a community manager who can determine the best strategy for building your community. Having a person who sets a strategy in place will make it easier for you to oversee the community, regulate content, and ensure it reflects the brand, keeping your community healthy and cohesive.
Think about how you would like your community to enter the space. How will members meet one another, interact and engage with others? Holding a webinar or in-person event are excellent ways of kicking it off.
Additionally, it's important to keep your members up-to-date on the latest news and events happening within your space. You can use newsletters, blogs, and social media to provide them with information about upcoming activities. You may also want to consider setting up an email marketing program so that you can send out regular updates about what's going on with your community.
Once you have a plan for your community, it’s time to set up the space. Here are a few key factors to keep in mind:
Once you have established the values for your community, creating guidelines that honor and support those values will help keep the space clean and fair. Your guidelines should outline what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in your space and include the consequences for violating these rules.
Think about the different roles your community needs and identify people who can fill those roles. A good way to start is by designating one person as the community manager or assigning a department within your company to manage the community. You might also want to choose ambassadors and moderators right away so that they can help guide new members and answer questions as they come up.
A great way to keep your members engaged is to collect feedback from them. What do they like about the community? What can be done better? By collecting and embracing feedback, you will be able to make adjustments as needed in order to meet the needs of your members.
There are many ways to collect feedback, such as analyzing data and conducting post-event surveys. This kind of information reveals how well you achieve the impact you set out to create. Over time, gathering data from your members and analyzing it can help you determine which efforts have contributed to the success and identify areas where improvement is needed.
Once you have established a structure and have a steady stream of content flow, it's time to bring more people into your space.
You can host in-person events and webinars, create a newsletter or set up social media accounts. If you clearly transmit what value your potential members will receive from joining the community, it can help build excitement and attract more people who are interested in what you have to offer.
So, what defines a successful community? The answer isn't just one thing, but here are some commonalities among the most thriving ones.
To thrive, a community must empower its members. To do this, it should create an environment where people feel free and safe enough to interact with others in meaningful ways. This way, they can build connections and feel like part of something greater than themselves.
As you're building your community, it's important to keep in mind that its purpose is to create an inclusive space where everyone feels welcome. This means that your community should be free from bias and discrimination and that everyone should be treated with respect. This is essential to a path to a thriving community because the more inclusive it is, the more likely people are to feel like they have a place there.
To be effective and sustainable, a community should have clear goals and metrics set in place so that members know what they're working towards and can track their progress towards those goals. This makes it easier to identify when a community needs help or support or when there are places where the community could be improved.
It's important for members to work together towards a common goal, and this is especially true in community-building. Strong communities are made up of individuals who respect each other, share common values and goals, understand one another's needs—and work together to achieve them. It is the responsibility of a brand or company's leaders to keep everyone focused on these shared visions by mediating disputes as they arise and helping resolve conflicts in ways that benefit the entire space.
Now that you've got your community-building strategy all mapped out, let's look at some examples of communities and see what makes them so successful:
The Trailblazer Community is an online community for Salesforce users created by Salesforce. The community has grown rapidly since its inception and now has millions of members worldwide.
Trailblazer Community is designed to help users learn relevant skills, connect with other Trailblazers, and improve their knowledge and skills related to the Salesforce platform. This community has become an increasingly strategic differentiator for Salesforce. In fact, the company has found that 83% of its questions get answered by members of the Trailblazer Community instead of its support organization, which reduces the cost of customer support for them every month!
The Startup Grind community was formed in 2010 to build a supportive environment for startups worldwide. Since then, it has grown exponentially. Now they host events every month in 170 cities around the world, bringing entrepreneurs together to learn, connect and grow their businesses.
Startup Grind offers its members valuable education, connections, and opportunities to help startups grow. They're run by local "Chapter Leaders" who bring like-minded people together to connect, learn from each other—and build a strong community.
CMX is the largest organization for community professionals, and they've been helping its members thrive. Since its beginning in 2014, the CMX community has grown to tens of thousands of community professionals from the world's biggest and most exciting companies.
CMX has built its community around a shared passion and, at every point, offers valuable resources to its members, such as annual conferences and masterclasses to bring their members together. CMX also publishes industry research, develops training and educational programs, and provides ongoing community programming to its members.
Communities have the potential to deliver immense value. They can bring people together in ways that would otherwise be unimaginable, benefiting both individuals and their businesses as a whole. They can help you build your brand, increase sales and grow your customer base. They can also allow you to understand your customers better and provide them with a place where they feel valued.
Now that you have a better idea of how to start your community, it's time to get started. Discover how Bevy can help your business create the thriving community you've always wanted. Click here to book a demo and see for yourself!