Online Community: Definition and Benefits

Amara Lennon

You've probably heard the term "online community" thrown around in marketing circles, but what exactly is it? An online community is a group of people who engage with each other's content and share their own.

The benefits of online communities include the following:

  • Better customer service and sales opportunities.
  • Stronger employee engagement.
  • More meaningful connections between your company and its customers.

In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about building an online community for your business—from defining an online community to creating strategies for growing one on social media.

Defining an Online Community

An online community is a place where people can connect around shared interests to build relationships. It's not the same as social media, which widely broadcasts information or shares content. Online communities for businesses are more about listening and collaboration—listening to what your internal customers want or need, collaborating with them to improve their experience, and helping you meet the needs of your external customers.

An online community can be built around your employees' interests and skills or customer needs and wants (and sometimes both). For example:

  • An employee could create an online community for her department so it's easy for everyone in HR to post questions about their work on a forum where other team members can answer them quickly without having to send emails back and forth all day long.
  • A group of salespeople could create an online community in which they share best practices for selling your products—things like how much negotiation time should be allotted before making an offer, which lead generation tactics have proven most effective, etc.--so everyone gets better at selling at once instead of reinventing the wheel every time they make contact with a prospect.

The Benefits of Building an Online Community

Building an online community can help you build relationships with customers and employees, collaborate on projects, share information about your product or service, learn from each other, and solve problems.

How to Build an Online Community

When you're building an online community, make sure to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Create a space where people can share ideas: The purpose of an online community is to bring together people with similar interests and passions. To do this, you'll need a place for people to connect. Writing articles and posting photos are fantastic ways to get started.
  • Allow people to communicate with each other: You might be surprised at how easy it is for users of your site or app (or even strangers) to connect based on shared interests and commonalities. This can help create lasting relationships in the real world, so remember how powerful it can be!
  • Provide information and resources: As mentioned above, one goal of an online community should be creating lasting relationships between users—and that means giving them plenty of reasons why they should return again and again.

Communities can create meaningful connections with your employees, customers, and partners.

A community can help you get to know your customers better, build trust, and improve customer service. It's also excellent for employees to connect and share knowledge and expertise.

Go Deeper

Online communities can be an excellent way to interact with your customers and employees. Social Edge Consulting can help you build one. Contact us today to set up a free initial call.