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Online communities have the ability to bring people and businesses together. As the world is experiencing the growing changes that come with the COVID-19 quarantine, people are seeking out familiarity through online communities. When a small business has an online community they are able to build brand credibility, customer loyalty, and engage one-on-one with customers. Online communities can be powerful for small businesses because you are bringing people with similar interests together to discuss your products or services.

How Online Communities Help You Build Your Brand

As you continue building your community online, you always want to create an environment that allows your brand to shine. When you build an online community, you have the ability to create brand loyalty by showing your customers that you care. Your customers want to know that their opinions matter and they can develop a long-lasting relationship with a business that values their feedback. You can continue to build your brand by developing a deeper understanding of your target audience and using that to guide your future business strategies.

Within your community, you can position yourself as a thought leader and expert within your industry by creating branded content that can be directly shared with your online community. You want to create content that is engaging and encourages readers to get active with your brand; so you aren’t just advertising to them. Customers love exclusivity and you can also build your brand by sharing discounts, recruiting influencers/affiliates, or creating a loyalty program that can help you build credibility while reaching new clients. 

Connecting with Your Employees

Your employees are the shining stars of your business and online communities give everyone a chance to contribute and stay connected. While many of us are working from home due to the COVID-19 quarantine, communication is more vital than ever. Having an online community provides an alternate form of communicating outside of general email. Online communities can promote social interaction that can be enjoyed spontaneously and reduce the feelings of isolation that can come from remote work. An important aspect of building and maintaining this community for your employees is a dynamic platform that can keep you connected, collaborating, and working.

Bluehost wants to provide you with the products and services that can keep your business connected to your employees in the wake of communities, families, and customers being impacted by COVID-19. We’re currently offering 6 months of free video conferencing with Microsoft Teams and 50% off for up to 10 seats of G Suite – plus Google Hangouts Meet

Tools for Building Online

As small businesses continue to transition their products and services to eCommerce websites, it’s important to use platforms and tools that can help you connect with your customers. As you are building your online community you want to use tools that allow you to teach your audience about the different products and services you offer. Zoom or GoToWebinar are excellent platforms to host a webinar or e-learning session that feature tools to help your plan, promote, and engage with your customers. Email marketing has the potential to not only help generate sales and leads, but provides the opportunity for you to market services like a webinar to new and potential clients.

Bluehost is partnering with Constant Contact to help you manage your online presence by providing 60 days of free email marketing. Constant Contact features easy to use email templates with drag and drop editing for your digital marketing strategies in addition to website sign up tools that can help you add subscribers and reporting features to help measure your results.

If you’re building a community online, here are a few tips for managing and communicating with your community and clients.

Be Present

Getting to know the humans behind their devices is essential in making the members of your community feel valued and appreciated. You always want to give your full attention to a community you are participating in whether you are hosting a live stream, conducting a webinar, or just chatting one-on-one with a member of your community. Distractions are common and in abundance, but being present with the community and its objectives will help it to successfully grow. Engagement is a key factor in building long-term loyalty with a virtual community so don’t miss the opportunity to learn from your customers.

Be Consistent

If you start a community, you should intend to follow through with it because your clients will be relying on you to facilitate managing and updating them through your chosen platform. Consistency is vital to building and maintaining a healthy online community whether you are posting content or sharing your products and services. This will give the members of the community a schedule and routine, in addition to the feeling that they have a sturdy base to lean on as needed. The internet is filled with scheduling tools that can help you organize and manage your communication so that you can post relevant content and updates within your community on a daily or weekly basis.

Lead Your Interactions With Empathy

We could all use kindness right now. Most of our days are filled with monotony and the same scenery over and over again. Not to mention the anxiety and general feelings of negativity surrounding the pandemic. Lead with empathy, kindness, patience, and care; those in your community could use the positivity and will send it right back your way and to those they are interacting with as well. Whether you’re building your community via social media, a forum, or membership site, you want to be as authentic as possible. The internet can be a hard place to navigate and you want to ensure you’re facilitating positive interactions with your clients so they have a safe space to communicate their thoughts and opinions. 

Terms and conditions

Microsoft Teams: The Microsoft Teams promotion is for 6 months only and terminates on the 7th month unless you choose to upgrade to a different plan that already includes it.

G Suite: The G Suite promotion is good for 10 accounts only. Additional seats may be purchased at the regular rate of $6.00/month/license.

Constant Contact: The Constant Contact promotion is good for up to 500 contacts and will automatically renew at the regular rate of $5/month on the 3rd month, unless you cancel. Plans will be billed monthly to the payment method on file when you sign-up with Constant Contact. You may cancel at any time by logging into your account or contacting support.

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