“Communication leads to community; that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”
Our key words here are “mutual valuing.” As long as your company, brand or website’s service is seen as valuable to the community that backs it, it will never fail. Your community, as opposed to your audience, not only engages with you as an entity but with one another and with your service or product. Your audience, on the other hand, is that group that sits back and observes as time goes on; while the audience is valuable, the community is utterly priceless.
At this point, you may be wondering how to build out your website’s community. This is a difficult process for many companies, especially those with a niche product or service. Following these tips, however, will help you to cultivate the sense of community that will eventually allow the community itself to grow.
Be transparent and reliable in all things, from customer service to pricing to accomplishments and failures. In a world that no one takes responsibility or accountability, your community will be the one that knows it can trust you.
Don’t simply post; engage.
Many companies consider social media the key to success, and they’re correct. The aspect they’re missing is that a company loses its personality rapidly if that company isn’t interacting with its community; asking questions, answering questions, addressing issues. If your community knows you’ll be there, it will be there.
Provide the right tools.
By providing your community the right tools to build itself, you’ll not only be expanding your reach at an exponential level but cutting your own work in half. Make sure the social sharing tools associated with your content are clear and functional, and that you’re acknowledging those people who are sharing.
Support them the same way they support you.
Your community won’t always be relegated to the prototypical enduser; it might consist of other companies, publications or blogs. No word of mouth is too small to make a major difference for your company, and each time you’re supported by a member of your community it’s advisable to somehow return that favor. It won’t be forgotten.