Building an online, engaged 👀 community has a ton of advantages - a community gives you feedback for your product or service, helps you achieve network effects through referrals because members and customer advocates spread the word about your community, the increased engagement helps with customer retention and last but not the least - it's just so much fun to be with people who support you on your mission!
But how do we build a community when we're starting from scratch?
Build an audience
The first step to building a community is to build an audience that enjoys interacting with your content.
Building an audience involves the following steps:
1. Identify your target persona
Great that you've taken the first step in building your community!
Your goal now is to identify who exactly is the target persona for your community. Do you want to create a community for sales professionals, marketers, artists, or someone else?
Identifying your persona will make it a lot easier to find where that persona hangs out and create content for them!
2. Go niche and find where your persona hangs out
So you've identified your target persona, what do you do next?
Well, a target persona that is too broad does not work right at the start. This is because you want to create content that will drive a ton of engagement and will help you find your community advocates i.e your most active community members. The more niche the persona you target, the more relevant content you will be able to create for them, which is extremely important at the start.
Thus, you should niche down on your target persona, and then find the places where they hang out. Some examples of places where your target persona may hang out are:
-Online Slack and Discord channels
- Facebook Groups
- Social Media channels (Instagram, TikTok, Twitter)
- Other communities online (Product Hunt, IndieHackers, etc.)
Your objective is to find the primary places where your target persona hangs out and understand the dynamics of that particular platform, which will help you optimize your content accordingly.
3. Understand the dynamics of your target platforms
Once you have identified the primary online platforms where your target persona may hang out, the next step is to experiment with these different platforms and see what works the best.
But before you do that, there is one key step - understanding the dynamics of the various platforms.
Twitter works very differently from Instagram, and they're both quite different from Slack channels - you get the point!
Understand how your target platform works in detail before you set out to post content. For example, Twitter has a popular trend of building in public.
4. Build a content schedule
Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok and others prioritize creators who post content frequently. It is important to create a content schedule so you never fall short of content to create.
Content creators typically create a monthly schedule and there are several ways to automate content posting as well. Tools like Later, Sked Social and several others help you automate your content posting across multiple platforms like Instagram, Twitter and others.
5. Be consistent and post regularly
Once you've created your content schedule and any tools to help you with the process, the next step is to be consistent and post regularly. While there is no set number of minimum posts per day, you should plan to post at a minimum of 2-3 posts on your target platform every day.
In addition, it is also a great idea to build trust by engaging with your audience on your target platform by liking and commenting on their posts.
6. Post in batches
It is a great idea to create content in batches. Whether your platform of choice is Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok or many of them combined, batching will help you get in the flow so you can come out flying with content rather than always be on the lookout for your next post.
You can choose to create content in batches and then automate the posting such that they're sent out at different times.
After you have put these steps into action, you will have an audience that is receptive to your content and engages with your posts regularly.
The next step is to identify your key audience members, so you can build a community.
Identify your advocates and influencers
In your journey of creating an audience, you may have noticed certain members who engage with your content more regularly than others. These members are your advocates. It is important that you keep them engaged and ask them for feedback and suggestions.
Going forward, your advocates will be your biggest strength as you scale your audience and build your community. Advocates believe in your mission and purpose and want to join you in your journey. In other words, these people are your allies!
If you feel that your audience doesn't yet have clear advocates yet, you can try fun events like contents, giveaways or rewards to spur up activity. This will ensure that audience members are more engaged and responsive.
Build a MVC (Minimum Viable Community)
Once you have an engaged audience and you have identified the advocates among your audience, the next step is to build an MVC or Minimum Viable Community.
The objective of this step is to ensure that your audience members engage in multi-way discussions with each other, so you're not even needed. This is the key difference between an audience and a community!
At this step, it would make sense to use a platform so that your community has a safe space of their own to engage in deeper discussions. You should choose a platform that blends well with your community style and is customizable.
At Casa, we provide a community building platform so startups and creators can build their own community that represents their brand.
So once you do have your Minimum Viable Community what do you do next?
The next step after building your Minimum Viable Community is to track analytics and understand how your community is doing. Here are some important things to track:
1. # of new posts (per day / week)
2. # of comments on posts (per day / week)
3. # of reactions on posts (per day / week)
4. % member growth per week
5. Net Promoter Score (NPS) of the community, which is (# of promoters) * 100/total
At the start, you should optimize for one or more of these metrics. It's okay if you don't grow too quickly in the beginning, but the engagement should be high, which would often corresponds directly with how much value the community is adding.
Once you've built your MVC and have validated that it is working with the right metrics, the next step is to scale 🚀
Scale your community
You can scale your community in the following ways:
Ask community advocates for referrals
By asking your community advocates and members to refer your community to their network, you can grow your community by finding people who gel well with each other. You can also incentivize community advocates for referrals with gift cards or other giveaways.
Giveaways and contests
You can host giveaways and contests related to themes that your community serves.
For eg. if you're building a community of stock market analysts, you can run a stock picking contest and post about it on social media (Twitter, Instagram, etc.). This will help you get more enthusiasts to join the community and spread the word about your community.