Why Building Online Communities is Critical to Small Businesses

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Small businesses are building online communities to connect with customers, peers, and collaborators. According to CMX, 86% of professionals agree community is critical to their company’s mission.

At Local View, we help small businesses build online communities as a critical part of success.

Attract New Customers

 

Online communities are a powerful way to share information. If you’re a small business owner, think about the broader niche or hobby that your passion fits into — such as fitness, music, food, wine, gardening, or tropical fish.

An online community is a way to connect with people who have a shared interest. It may be a way to offer support for getting more involved.

Consider some of the ways you can interact with potential customers.

Share Advice

Everyone loves to get tips, tricks, and insights about a topic. Online community conversations help people get access to information from using a product, gaining skills, and hacks to gain mastery.

Invite Personal Stories

Stories are a way for users to offer support, give real-life examples, and share their interests. According to Warren Research, people like to share personal stories and may feel more comfortable communicating anonymously than in person.

 

Ask for Input

Members of a community love to discuss products and prototypes. If you’re looking for real-time feedback, ask your members to give candid input. You’ll get a wealth of insight into what works, what doesn’t work, and what could be improved.

Convert Prospects Into Loyal Customers

 

What makes people move from a prospect to a customer to a loyal customer? Each business owner we work with is asking this question. If it’s keeping you up at night, you know you’ve got some work to do.

We’re living in a world of information overload. The amount of data is doubling every two years. Content and data are exploding. Online communities are a place where people can connect with other people and get real-world insights.

When you provide prospects with information that is easy to understand, practical, and aspirational—they listen.

What are the stopping points in your small business’s customer journey? If you’ve been in business for some time, you know these by heart.

At Local View, we like to look at problems as pain points that can be solved. It can be tough to identify each pain point on your own. Keep the end in mind: when you define the problem, you can create the solution.

Unlock Competitive Advantage

To unlock a tremendous competitive advantage, ask your community for input. Use their real-time experience with your products, services, and solutions to design a better blueprint.

Look at the simple and enduring principles to boost benefits to your customer — and grow your business.

  • How do people find you?
  • How can you lower the costs of providing a service?
  • How can you lower the costs of acquiring a customer?
  • How can you increase prospects to become customers?
  • How can you increase customer lifetime value?

While every business is unique, your answers will ignite innovative solutions. That’s great news for your community and your company.

Educate and Engage on Products and Services

It’s time to get creative and add value to your community members’ lives.

How can you achieve this?

Use different mediums to tell the community’s story and make them the star of the show.

  • Interview outstanding entrepreneurs, first-time users, and innovators
  • Promote success stories of people who overcame challenging problems
  • Share short-form videos to show the best tips

Different audiences may respond to different types of content. Experiment and track what gets the best results with your unique community.

A few things to try are:

  • Q & A sessions with experts
  • Live ask-anything audio programs
  • Video show-and-tell

Boost Collaboration and Add Value

Most communities are actively involved in a conversation in a community forum. As a small business, you are in a great position to elevate content and share user-generated input.

This may be in different forms such as:

  • User-generated customer stories
  • Video and photo stories
  • Customer testimonials

User-generated content that aligns with marketing goals is a match made in heaven.

You and your team won’t have to sweat long brainstorming sessions trying to come up with the perfect story, language, or images. Instead, you can engage with your customers and share their stories with the community.

Consumers trust and rely on testimonials and reviews. According to Boast, statistics show that 92% of customers read online reviews before buying. 72% of consumers will only take action after reading a positive review.

Isn’t that something your business could use?

Why Customers Love Online Communities

While we’ve been looking at this from the standpoint of your small business, it helps to consider why customers participate in online communities.

According to Warren Research, customers value online communities because it gives them a sense of belonging, support, access to information, and some extra perks.

Sense of Belonging

During and after the pandemic, a lot of people have expressed feelings of isolation. Online communities offer a safe space where people can participate in a conversation. It may not be identical to meeting in person, but it’s extremely important.

Support

Members in a community often bond because of shared interests. In traditional business, this may have been accomplished at a community center, club, or interest group. Online communities offer a way to connect, share ideas, and find common ground.

Perks

Members enjoy getting perks. These range from first-to-know offers, to discount coupons, contests, and giveaways. Have some fun designing perks to encourage joining your online community and actively participate.

In Conclusion

 

With these insights, it’s clear why building an online community is critical to your small business.

The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. The team at Local View is here to help you build your online community and stand out in the marketplace. Let’s talk today.

Customer Experience describes the overall perception that customers have of their experience with your business.

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