One of the keys to success as small or solo business owner is via online communities. Communities are a free untapped resource full of potential clients and knowledge. Today we will go through what an online community group is, where to find the best ones and what the benefits are. Joining an online community and spending 2 minutes every week to engage with them can take your business to a new level.
What is an online community and how do we find them?
A community is a group of people who have joined together around a common goal, interest or experience. There is a community for almost anything business related, even a forum for men discussing growing, washing, brushing and wearing long locks called Men’s Longhair Hyperboard – yes really!?
Finding them comes down to simply doing your research. Searching social media platforms and other online forums using terms that relate to your area of interest, or your target audience’s relevant criteria. For example, if you sold a product aimed at feminists, you could search ‘feminist’ on Facebook and a number of relevant groups would return, enabling you to review and identify if it is suitable for you to participate in and grow your brand equity.
It also pays to join groups of people who also run similar businesses, such as small business groups for the small business owner or solopreneur, there are many of these just within Facebook alone.
What can an online social community do for me?
Like-minded business communities
Running a business be an incredibly lonely journey. Being a bossman or bosslady is not always easy and the buck stops with you! Employees are great but are not always the best avenue for venting during hard times or asking for guidance. By establishing and joining a network of like-minded people running businesses, you will gain support and more often than not useful recommendations on how to tackle the harder times.
Communities can be great sources of knowledge to leverage from. They offer a platform in which you can bounce around ideas and learn together. Or if you prefer, watch from behind the scenes and take it all in. Chances are if you have a problem, someone else has tackled it before. You can learn from their successes and most importantly their failures. Knowledge gives you an edge over your competitors and can save you a lot of time and money in the process.
Leaders in your field can be gold! Consider finding a mentor or coach with the right level of expertise outside of your zone of genius. Surround yourself with people who are where you want to get to, learn and thrive off them.
Grow your funnel
Smart business people hang where their customers are, so they can be in their consideration set when opportunities arise. Seed messages about your business by offering value in these communities – remember that the group was not set up for free advertising so blatant sales communications are usually not tolerated and can do more harm than good. However, when the opportunity arises – where customers reach out, make sure you are there. Hone your 2-minute elevator pitch in writing, but don’t be too overt or community managers will notice and remove you. Respect the community boundaries.
Being closer to your customer gives you an edge. If you know their needs and challenges, you can ensure your solutions fit better. Learn their language, their interests, their feelings so when you talk to them, your message is bang on!
Valuable marketing opportunities
Some community groups offer the chance to speak to their community overtly through paid advertising or other avenues. These can sometimes be very worthwhile. If you are running an event or seminar, some community groups will allow you to let their members know – for a fee or free sometimes. It is worth getting to know the community managers well and keeping them onside!
Word of mouth is powerful. Social community groups can make or break a reputation and a business, so make sure yours is a positive one.
If you would like to book a strategy session to talk through community group marketing and tactics in more detail email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.