Stop using Facebook and LinkedIn to build your branded online community
Building a community from scratch takes a lot of work. Every step on the journey takes a lot of time and effort.
If you are a newbie community manager, starting your community on LinkedIn or Facebook seems like a great shortcut. The infrastructure already exists, and some of your potential members are already active there.
If you kickstart your community with a readymade social platform, why not do it? With all the other work on your plate, using LinkedIn or Facebook looks like an easy win.
But looks can be deceiving, and today’s shortcut might create a bigger problem down the road.
Here are some points to consider before building your community on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Problems with building a branded online community on Facebook and LinkedIn
Control over data: Since you don’t own the platform, your power users’ data stays with Facebook or LinkedIn and not with you. These platforms leverage these data to show ads, your audience gets diverted, and result in poor engagement.
Control over the platform: When you build your community on these platforms, you must comply with their guidelines, and you are subject to all of their future changes without any say. For example, you might have seen a lot of traction and engagement when LinkedIn released its Stories feature. But in September 2021, LinkedIn scrapped that feature without much warning. You don’t have a say on what features social platforms build or remove.
6 reasons to build your branded online community on a dedicated community platform
1. Establish meaningful connections
36 percent of users feel like they have meaningful conversations participating in online communities. When power users join your community, they are not there to consume political or entertainment content. They are there for you–to have meaningful conversations. Either they are looking for help or extending help to fellow community members.
2. Stop competing for attention
Community is the new moat for businesses. Having a separate community platform gives you the complete attention of your members. However, on social media, attention is always up for grabs. People swipe through posts, stop at some, and engage only with content that resonates with them.
The Community Roundtable reports that in social media, engagement rates average between .05-5% of their total followers, but comparatively, almost 50% of online community members are actively engaged.
On a dedicated community platform, power users walk in with a clear purpose in their heads. They are looking to engage with your brand/product. So, you get the complete attention of your power users. That’s not the case with social media. On social media, while they scroll through posts, the reach of your posts depends on the algorithm and affects the engagement rate.
3. Get feedback and evolve
Branded online communities are closed groups that help you have conversations about your business with your power users. You know what they complain about, what they are confused about, and what product upgrades they need.
Ensure you keep your community in the know whenever you implement their feedback. Any such gestures help you express how much you value your power users and further delight them with an improved customer experience.
4. Create loyalty through power users
58 percent of internet communities believe there is an improvement in brand loyalty as a result of customers being part of their community. Take advantage of gamification and build an online community power user program. You can include badges, ribbons, and occasional posters to highlight the contributions of power users.
These strategies help you identify the real power users and recognize them. Recognizing your power users is the key. When you make them feel like they made others’ lives simple and hassle-free, it motivates them to contribute more. As a display of recognition, you can also give them early access to your beta features and keep them in the know. Make them feel special and start fostering customer loyalty.
5. Get new customers
If your community platform is public and searchable, Google may direct people to specific pages that help answer key questions. Your community members will use natural language that reflects the same terms that other potential members will use as well.
When someone comes to your community, if they see a vibrant, helpful community, they’ll be eager to learn more about the product. In fact, 27 percent of customers say usage of online communities plays a part in their buying decision.
6. Decrease support costs
For over 10 years, Todd Nilson has helped dozens of customers to build thriving online communities. According to him, the top reason to join a community is “to get help solving an immediate problem.” He also thinks that being able to give direct product feedback is a big motivator.
There’s nothing wrong with relying on the support team to address customer grievances, but your customers are not talking to a person who has lived through the issue (a user). In a community, users of the product can share their instances that connect and give solutions to their immediate problems.
Build branded online communities on a dedicated community platform
Building a community from scratch is tough. Choosing the right platform is even more daunting. You might have LinkedIn and Facebook on your mind, but they may cause you more trouble down the road. A branded online community is the right choice in the long run.
Build your community on a dedicated community platform, and take control over it. With a dedicated community platform, you can make a lasting impact on your power users’ minds by establishing meaningful connections, creating loyalty, reducing support costs, and getting new customers.