August 11, 2021

The Benefits of Online Community Engagement

Are you tired of spending thousands of dollars on advertising every year? Perhaps your brand isn't as successful as you'd like it to be. Maybe you don't have repeat customers, and generating interest is proving difficult.
What do you do? You could spend more money on advertising trying to reach more people. You could also put in the effort to organize events and occasions for people to discuss your brand. Perhaps feedback forms are an effective way to gauge how well your brand is doing.
We are here to tell you that what you need to be doing is initiating community engagement. Continue using your traditional means of brand building, but supplement them with the golden ticket of community building.
It is that simple. How do you do it? Through online communities. Will you see the results? Absolutely!
Online community engagement is the answer to all your marketing and brand-building woes. Community engagement allows you to broaden your audience, reduce costs, and generate loyalty and sustained interest.
Want to learn how to leverage this simple but effective tool today? Read on for our definitive guide on community engagement.

What is an online community?

An online or internet community is when a group of like-minded people get together over a shared interest or purpose. Online community platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Reddit allow for connection but with guidelines in place for safety.
People are then able to communicate about their interests and form connections. Moderators of the group manage it to ensure that the guidelines are followed.
Online communities can exist for any topic! General communities cater to all sorts of topics. Niche communities exist to cater to particular interests that are more specific.

What are the main types of online communities?

There are many kinds of communities and sub-communities. Understanding the unique purpose of each type of community will help you develop stronger relationships with your users.
Let us examine these in a little more detail.

Discussion communities

These online forums are a space where people can discuss their thoughts and views about a specific topic. They can share experiences and initiate analyses. Discussion communities allow brands to increase engagement organically and naturally.
One example of solid online discussion communities lies in popular TV shows. There are whole forums dedicated to shows like Friends, Sex and the City, and more.
Users can come together to discuss character arcs, unexpected developments, and predictions for new episodes. These platforms provide users with a space to develop their interests and share them with like-minded people who value the same interest.

Action communities

Action communities are built around a specific issue or common goal. Many organizations use online communities to advocate for particular causes and raise awareness about particular subjects.
Interested users can then come together to fulfill an intended goal. This can include fundraising, activism, and even protests. And brands can use action communities to their advantage too!
A great example of a thriving action community is the clothing brand Patagonia. They were able to raise support and spread awareness about climate change. Their online environmental activism gathered serious traction and expedited fundraising processes.

Support communities

Online communities are also effective in providing support to those who need it. Support communities are great for those who need advice or coaching from others with more experience.
This is helpful in that it is a place for exchanging tips and navigating problems. As such, support communities are typically not branded. But they can have a commercial interest as a platform that provides value without selling a service.
For example, many hospitals offer online support for those dealing with cancer. There are also online support communities catering to everything from car support and advice to abuse and trafficking-victim validation.

Why does community engagement matter?

Online community engagement matters because it can drive the success of your brand. Consider two scenarios. In the first, someone passively buys your product or service because you sold it to them. They might repurchase if they liked what you're offering, or they may not.
But the critical thing to note is that they are not loyal to your brand, nor have they connected with it extraordinarily.
In the second scenario, you have a loyal and committed fan of your brand. They have a space to discuss your product and are surrounded by those who understand the value of what you're offering.
Not only are these people likely to repurchase, but they will be sure to share your product with their loved ones!
When people feel like they are a part of something and that their thoughts and feedback are valued, your business is poised for success. Having strong online engagements can thus make or break your brand.
When people feel like they are a part of something and that their thoughts and feedback are valued, your business is poised for success.

What are the benefits of community engagement?

The benefits of using online community platforms to drive engagement are endless. Let us take a look at some of the primary benefits to brands:
  • Better customer experience
  • Generate leads organically and increase conversions
  • Improve products through generated feedback
  • Increase revenue through advertising within the community
  • Increase customer loyalty
  • Provide value and establish brand authority
Supplementing traditional business strategies with online engagement can create great results.
Are you interested in understanding how these numerous benefits can impact your organization? Let's dive into the benefits of community engagement and how to leverage them effectively.

Reach a wider audience

Advertising can be a lengthy and costly process. One of the most significant difficulties is deciding whom to advertise to and how. With online communities, the interested parties come straight to you!
You will be able to hear from those who you perhaps never considered to be within your audience demographic. Online communities also increase accessibility to those who cannot engage face-to-face or at meeting venues.
Thus, online community engagement broadens the net of who can engage with your brand. And it does this with minimal advertising dollars and effort on your part. Win-win!

Ensure important connections

The main benefit of communities is that they create a bond between fellow consumers and between the brand and customers. Having a community allows people to feel connected and even understood.
Something as simple as a discussion thread or advice columns can go a long way in making people feel included. This, in turn, allows them to feel as though other people understand them and their valuable thoughts.
The benefits of these connections for your brand are numerous. The more people feel a positive connection to your brand, the more they engage. The more they engage, the more invested they get.
This then leads to ripple effects like word-of-mouth advertising and referrals. The sense of belonging that online communities generate can thus never be understated.

Stand out from your competitors

A brand community is a great way to stand out among your competitors. Brands often say their number one priority is their customers. But that promise is meaningless if they are unable to give back to their customers.
By taking the time to build an online community, you will be conveying how much you value your customers. You will demonstrate that their opinions matter and reciprocate their interest by connecting them to like-minded individuals.
By taking the time to build an online community, you will be conveying how much you value your customers. You will demonstrate that their opinions matter and reciprocate their interest by connecting them to like-minded individuals.
A significant benefit of this is that you will learn about your products and how they are received first hand. You will gain customer experience reports, feedback, and information about many issues. It is also an effective tool to understand what is working for your customers.
This feedback loop allows you to convert your online community into a communication management tool. You will be able to alert customers that you are working on the issues. This helps retain loyalty and sustained interest in your products.

Cost-effective solutions

Many brands use traditional methods of advertising to get returns. However, the costs for printing, online advertisements, hiring venues, and staffing can quickly add up.
Another downside of traditional methods is that it is tricky to gauge how effective your campaigns are.
Online communities, alongside traditional methods, allow brands to reach a wider audience with less time. You will also reduce advertising dollars on staff and avenues while driving business success.
Some methods to increase revenue through online communities include giving local communities access to exclusive content or competitions. This retains brand interest and creates brand exclusivity. By attracting current customers, you will also increase opportunities to sell services to them.
Other monetization methods for online communities include:
  • In-app purchases
  • Subscriptions
  • Sponsored posts
  • Referrals to increase revenue
Online communities are essential for every brand wishing to monetize its engagement cost-effectively and effortlessly. Focus on providing value to your customers first before trying to sell them your services.
The more you establish yourself as a trusted, reputable authority, the more you will be able to leverage your platform for economic benefits.
Online community PeerBoard

Increase brand advocacy

Online community platforms allow your most engaged customers and followers to gather together. Imagine a group of people who love your brand and what you do. They will share their experiences, advise others, pass on their knowledge, and so much more.
And the more they talk about your brand? The more your brand builds up a loyal support base!
Your online ambassadors recognize the value you provide to them and, in turn, will make sure to advocate for your product.
Many engaged customers share their experiences with friends and other communities. This allows your following to increase and encourages new customers to buy from you.
Brand advocacy is also an effective way to grow your organization. According to the Community Roundtable, online communities can generate huge returns on investment for brands.
For example, average communities see an ROI of approximately 4,500%! Those are incredible numbers that are difficult to achieve through traditional advertising alone. And remember, this only increases as communities grow and age.

Increase follower retention

Even big brands often struggle with retaining their fan base. Keeping a community interested and engaged can prove challenging. However, without it, there is nothing for fans to come back to the services you provide.
It is easy enough to attract a customer to your brand. But how do you get them to repurchase and stay interested in the future happenings of your organization? The key to sustained growth is to keep your customers happy and provide them with value.
You can do this by creating a fun community that allows them to feel understood. By providing them something they can't get anywhere else, they will have to come back!
Another bonus of reasonable retention rates: your customer will return to your brand whenever they have a related need in the future. This will increase your ROI, as well as set you apart from all your competitors.

The power of online community engagement

Online engagement truly is the answer to all your business troubles. Drive growth, increase revenue, ensure loyalty, initiate repurchases, generate feedback... this simple tool does it all!
Now that you know about online communities, you will be able to use community engagement to connect and engage with current and future customers.
This can be the foundation for the success of your business, both now and in the future.
We hope you found this article helpful. Peerboard is a modern community software that comes with deep integrations and is tailored specifically to the needs of your community. Leverage our platform to drive engagement and create meaningful connections.
If you're interested in learning more about online community engagement, check out our product tour here.

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