Are you ready for the benefits of an online community?
So you’re rocking along on social media, building engagement, but you’d like more. Maybe it’s time to build an owned community.
An online community is different from a social media following. It’s more a dialogue than a monologue, and it’s inherently more collaborative. It’s also laden with benefits that you don’t have when you’re only operating on social media platforms.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider taking things to the next level with community:
We live our lives on social media. Which is why it’s a logical place to attract attention and drum up engagement — it’s the digital town square where everyone already is. But when you’re building a community designed for a purpose and strategic growth, you’re not looking for raw numbers alone. You’re looking for qualified numbers. You need context.
Everything happens on social media. An owned community lets you carve out a space that’s still connected, but has a focused sense of purpose.
As community builder Peter Block explains:
Social fabric is created one room at a time, the one we are in at the moment. It is formed out of the questions “Whom do we want in the room?” and “What is the new conversation that we want to occur?”
Control can be a dirty word. Yet control is a defining feature of communities. People are motivated to join when they need a sense of agency over their experience and a more active influence over things (it’s what makes them different from an audience).
As the owner of the community, you need to control user journeys within that community to meet your goals and give members what they’re looking for.
For a community to stick around and thrive, it needs active moderation – minimising the things that get in the way or sour the experience, and maximizing the things that help people get what they need and feel compelled to return. You also need to make sure you’re doing things legally and staying compliant with best practice when it comes to protecting your users.
Social networks, sadly, have notoriously inadequate moderation tools. You’re held hostage to the whims of a third party in another country whose profit motive will rarely align with your need to limit certain types of activity and create a place people feel safe and comfortable. You may not be able to use best practice.
If you build an owned community on community-specific platforms, you have a feature set that lets you remove obstacles to purpose and enhance the stuff that’s working the best.
It’s a data-driven world, and you need access to metrics that matter to drive desired outcomes. On social networks, you’ll only ever have access to a fraction of the data required to measure and optimise the experience for your needs (and some of that data isn’t necessarily trustworthy).
Communities are about relationships, and you’ll need to study how those relationships are forming and performing over time.
Which people are returning, connecting, and in what patterns? Who are the most dominant voices? The hidden voices? How deep does the conversation run? How is value being built and exchanged?
Own the building blocks and you’ll have the blueprint to create the ideal community for hosts and members, including the products, services, tools and outcomes you require or desire. (Don’t build someone else’s CRM for them!)
Hundreds, even thousands, of content rich interactions taking place on your own network is a huge boost to your digital footprint and your odds of discovery. This helps you and your community become synonymous with the topic of your community, which in turn attracts more qualified members and helps you and your members reach your objectives faster.
Social media are the spokes to your community hub. They help you surface content and discussions to tell your community story, recruit new members and achieve your goals.
Search is moving toward voice interfaces, seeking out relevant, human content as the first point of call.
Which is more powerful and persuasive? Isolated posts on a Facebook page, non-interactive content marketing, or deep conversations between real people aligned with who you are and what you do?
An owned community offers more control, superior business integration and richer long term outcomes for all involved. It builds deeper connection, membership and lifetime value — not just audiences.Back