One of the most beautiful things about immersing yourself in an online community is the ability to connect with a broader audience. Additionally, you can extend an invitation to your online community to join your offline community and vice versa to bring their brand experience full circle.
But as stated above, creating solid relationships with individuals in your online community presents its own challenges. Fortunately, with a firm strategy and your business goals and customer needs at the forefront, it can be done effectively and positively impact your company’s growth and longevity. So, here are four strategies for connecting more with an online audience.
Focus on Philanthropy
An online community is defined as “a group of individuals unified by common interests, opinions, and goals who meet in a virtual space.” One of those common interests is likely to be how you’re giving back to your community.
Your philanthropic efforts can help you establish authentic relationships with your online community because they’re likely to share a passion for and emotional connection to this common interest. And that brings them closer to your brand.
Whether you’re raising money for a neighborhood project through GoFundMe or doing an online fundraiser for a new company initiative that supports the community’s welfare, you want to ensure you understand the causes that mean the most to your online community. Also, ensure that you’re addressing pressing community needs in your philanthropy, encouraging volunteers, and educating the public on your plans to get the most involvement and engagement.
In addition to your philanthropic efforts, you should prioritize social responsibility, sustainability, and diversity commitments.
Prioritize Social Responsibility, Sustainability, and Diversity
Social responsibility, sustainability, and diversity commitments are a part of your philanthropy. Still, it’s essential to focus on these three topics because of who they draw to your business. For example, you’re probably aware of how much of your online community is the younger generation.
Millennials and Gen Zers specifically make up a considerable portion of online audiences. And they’re driven by purpose. So, it’s no wonder they lead the sustainability movement in business and are heavily involved in social responsibility, diversity, and inclusion. By showcasing these same values, you’ll have a better chance at creating bonds with who will be the majority of your online audience moving forward.
So, ensure you have initiatives directly related to social responsibility, sustainability, and diversity. Then, share those initiatives with your audience online and lead a positive conversation about moving forward in each. Then, take it a step further and invite individuals from your online audience to participate in events, projects, and company conversations that result in a tangible plan.
You can also create bonds with your online community through the events you host and attend.
Host and Attend Events
Hosting, participating in, and sponsoring events are great ways to create bonds within your community. Through virtual and in-person events, you can learn more about your community, their needs, and how your business can help support those needs.
So, host a virtual charity event that aligns with your company values and those of the individuals in your online community to bring everyone together. Participate in community events like a local talent show or parade, or send in a basket for an online auction put on by another local business. You could even sponsor a local team or organization to further your connection in the community. Just be sure to share everything with your online community and constantly invite them to converse, connect, and attend the events as well.
Additionally, those that attend your events will likely brag about them on social media. So, ensure you grow your social media presence to continue creating bonds with people in your online community.
Grow Your Social Media Presence
Much of your online audience will be daily users of at least one social media platform. Because they’re already spending time connecting with businesses online through social media, your presence on these platforms is a must.
It’s best to learn which social media platforms your audience engages with the most. Then, choose one or two of them to build your social media presence. Ensure you’re creating engaging content and frequently posting on your pages. You could even take it a step further and create a customer community portal on a digital platform completely separate from social media for a more focused approach to online socialization and connection.
Also, ensure you’re intentionally conversing and engaging with them on social media and everywhere else. Answer all direct messages and comments, acknowledge and appreciate when people share and like your posts, and have two-way conversations with them when you go live. Ultimately, the simplest yet most powerful way to create bonds with an online community is through consistent conversation and engagement.
Businesses can create bonds with an online community in a variety of ways. Whether you implement the above tips or move forward with others that are better suited for your business goals, ensure you’re consistent, genuine, and focused in your efforts to create bonds with your online community.