Monday, April 18, 2016

6 Tips for Stirring your Online Community

‘Community Building’ – or engaging people who have a common interest in a brand or idea – is on everyone’s mind these days. The Next Web recently devoted a panel discussion to this topic at its annual conference in New York City. There I joined representatives from Tumblr and startup accelerator AngelPad in a fascinating conversation about building community through trust and authenticity.

Here are six tips that can help brands stir passion and deepen connections inalmost any community:
1. Address a need

In order to build a vibrant community, address a real need and provide true value. Ask yourself: Am I providing a benefit to my customers? Am I helping them accomplish their goals, or addressing concerns they have?

At Fiverr, for example, our community initially grew through sellers of digital creative services wanting to learn from each other. At the same time, many felt professionally isolated as freelancers and missed the personal connections. Today, through the Fiverr Forum, blog, community events, meetups and other grassroots activities, we work to connect freelancers across the globe and help them consult with each other, collaborate, and make new friends. 

2. Use the community for the community

Brands rely on their communities to fuel their own growth. After hosting a few community events, we began getting requests from community members in different locations to hold their own, independent events. This year, our community will host more than 50 self-organized events around the world.

Passionate users like these are also the best brand ambassadors. Our Fiverr Ambassadors — successful sellers on the platform — help us monitor our forums and help newcomers build their businesses on Fiverr. When you want to scale community building efforts, expanding your team is one way to do so. But try utilizing your community to effectively scale, especially as an alternative to scaling up your team. No one can represent you better than an empowered customer.

3. You can’t replace face-to-face

As Thomas Korte of AngelPad mentioned during our panel, meeting someone in person, even for a few minutes, makes a world of difference.

For most brands, community-building is exclusively virtual. Online venues become places for people to communicate, share success stories and case studies, and create virtual friendships. But consider adding in-person community events where human touch can amplify the collaboration experience. Danielle Strle of Tumblr shared similar advice. 

In Tumblr’s case, in-person meetups were originally initiated by independent community members. Tumblr followed its community’s lead and began to host events as well.

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