Power of Community– Create World-Class Community for Your Business: Can’t Succeed Without It…

Business community; collection of people, business, organization… whose defining characteristic is shared participation. Communities are ultimately geared towards some form of action. What drives the collective participation of the community is the individual vested interest of each member.

Finding an intersection between members’ individual vested interest is highly complex, and that means most communities are uniquely difficult to catalyze, sustain… Further, communities are only viable when a critical mass of its membership contribute. Unlike an affiliation, where too much observation kills a community…

According to Brian Prentice; defining and assessing communities must be based on the type of participation being shared… Increasingly its fashionable to use to the term community to represent the sum total of all relationships a company has – regardless of who it is… But, make no mistake – catalyzing and sustaining a community is half magic, and half hard work…

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When you’re building a community around the business, you’re putting the focus where it belongs: on the business… It adds equity to the business and attracts the right customers to the community… When you’re strategic about community building, it forces you to identify goals, and put a solid purpose behind your efforts… it’s a necessary component for growth; as it forges, fosters relationships that are essential for the business… According to Saurabh Tyagi; successful communities don’t just happen by themselves. They’re the result of a carefully executed strategy, solid design, and patient nurturing. Though it may seem like a lot of work, a community can bring many benefits to a brand, and make the efforts very worthwhile.

In the article How to Build Community for Business by Mackenzie Fogelson writes: There are many benefits to building a community around your company, but if I had to choose a few, here are my top five:

  • It will help you weather Google’s algorithms: Building an online community is a good ways to weather Google’s algorithms. If you’re continually chasing the algorithm you’re putting all of your power in what Google’s going to do next. But, if you’re building a community around the business, you’re putting the focus where it belongs: On the business. Building a strong company and brand isn’t something that Google can take away.
  • It will add equity and value to your business: When you build online community, you must do many things to better serve customers, such as; create quality content and resources, enhance your product or services, improve your systems and processes. Doing these things adds equity and value to the business and attracts the right customers to your community.
  • It will help you have purpose: There’s a lot of effort involved in building a community around your brand, and it’s not just about creating content or being on social media, and just because everyone else is doing it. When you’re strategic about community building, it forces you to identify goals, and put a solid purpose behind your efforts.
  • It will help you stand out: If you are committed to the process of building a community, you are going to be doing a great deal of self-discovery (which often times can be pretty uncomfortable). During this process you’ll determine what you’re all about, what you love to do, and what it’s going to take to help you stand out among the competition.
  • It will put the focus on goals, not tools: Building a community is not just a bunch of fluffy stuff; it’s the seamless integration of tools like SEO, social media, content marketing, email marketing, and all kinds of other important stuff (like hard work and passion). But in order for the tools to be effective, they’ve got to be driven by a strategy that is rooted in the goals of your entire business.

There is a whole lot of trial and error, joy and pain… It’s a necessary component for growth as it forges and fosters relationships that are essential for building a business… Some of the key steps in creating an effective business community are:

  • Define your business objectives: Keep in mind that there is much more to defining business objectives than just writing down a list of goals. So before you do that, think about this: What makes your company unique? determine the unique selling proposition… Why do you care? The passion that you feel for the business is not only a significant differentiator, but it’s part of your story… What do you want to build? It very helpful to make a list… Who do you want to build it for? This is the part where you get really clear about who your customer actually is… What are their fears, concerns, and challenges? Talk to them; Survey them; Ask them… Organize your audiences into groups. Build some personae around them so that they are– real, live, tangible people… Just remember that every person is not your customer.. .
  • Develop your strategy: Developing a strategy that will actually help you to achieve your goals. A good strategy will assist you in breaking the high level goals down into actionable, chewable pieces that you can work towards, even measure. Think about strategy as: What: Campaigns… When: Execution calendar… How: Ongoing efforts…
  • Learn the industry: You can’t grow a business in a vacuum. If you want to stand out and be successful, you’ve got to be learning and growing: All–The–Time.
  • Create value: Value is what community is built on, value that focuses on the customer and their experience, and that is what attracts them to your business, brand, community… It’s not about you; Focus on customers, and don’t just guess; ask them. Do a survey, make a phone call, take them to lunch… Listen and figure out how you can better serve them, and actually apply feedback to the business… Stay focused on the customer, and test out what works best for the community.
  • Build and foster growth: Building and fostering community is synonymous with building and growing the business. You’ve got to work at it: All The Time… There are many things that you can do to foster and grow your community, for example; it’s about building a brand… At the heart of building community is making the business you’ve always wanted to be. Stay rooted in your passion for the business… Stay grounded in your goals

In the article How to Build a Community by Martin Reed writes: So you want to build a community? But, before you start, ask yourself (and the business) questions before you go any further… and, if your answer is; ‘because everyone else has one’, then the community will probably fail. However, if it’s because you want to be more customer focused, and want to offer more value to your customers, you’re more likely to succeed…

Then, be realistic, be adventurous… Your community won’t be a success overnight, it may take weeks, months, even years for success to come (oh, and make sure you’re measuring success in the right ways). Lots of people give up on their community project too soon. You must take a long-term approach; remember, you’re building people and business relationships, so you cannot rush it… But, at same time, you must experiment and take risks from time-to-time; where some will work, but some won’t.  However, the more adventurous you are, the better your chances of success…

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In the article How to Create Your Own Community by Kristi Hines writes: What does it take to create successful, thriving community to which members are happy to come back regularly?

  • Start With Research: Before you jump into creating a community, start by seeing what’s out there in a related niche, join those communities, and then observe the activity. Note, what you like and dislike about the way the community operates, including; platform, members, leaders… Note, which communities keep you coming back for more, and how they do it…
  • Provide Unique Value: Notice, I didn’t just say value but unique’ value. Think about the communities you researched and then try to figure out that one thing that no one else is offering that you can
  • Address Your Members’ Concerns: This one may get tough, depending on how many members you have in your community, it’s always important to acknowledge any concerns that the members have in terms of functionality, value, rules, other members…

Identifying a community for your business is an essential step towards expanding the business presence and the reach of the brand. It’s an ongoing process and requires a significant time investment, but according to Dan Noyes; some key strategies that can organize and simplify the process are; determine who you want in the audience and how you can connect with themfocus on quality over quantity… determine where target audience is already engaged… prioritize and build, graduallycontinue to identify community opportunities as the business grows… Then, revise your strategies as needed… Identifying the community is an ongoing process that should be fully integrated in the overall business efforts…

According to Cecilia Edwards and Rob Howard; don’t pour resources into creating a community without defining the business objectives that you want it to accomplish… Successful communities are those that accomplish their objectives and, in addition, the members of successful communities also accomplish their objectives, as well… World-class communities use the information exchanged to improve their products, services… and transform the way that they’re doing business…