How to Build an Online Community in 6 Steps 

Online Community

There’s no doubt that building an online community is beneficial to your business


In this article, I’ll explain why you should build an online community and show you how to do it in six steps


These steps will also guide you on how to generate $5,000/month from successfully building an online community. 

1. The Value of an Online Community 

Building an online community gives your consumers a chance to build relationships with each other and your brand. 


Brands that develop an online community increase their chances of gaining loyal customers and generating more traffic and sales.  


An online community is valuable because it shows consumers that the brand cares about them and their problems or opinions. 


This is how customers become loyal to the brand. 

1.1. What is an Online Community? 

An online community is a group of people with a shared interest who meet virtually to share their opinions, experiences, and thoughts. 


It can be a small, private group that is only for customers or it can be a public, open group that anyone can join or have access to. 


The platform you choose to build your online community will depend on your goals as a business

Online Community

1.2. Why Build an Online Community? 

While most online communities are built on social media, others meet in forums or comment sections of blog posts.


Regardless of the platform, building an online community drives engagement which could lead to more traffic to your site, and ultimately an increase in sales


There are numerous benefits to building an online community: 

  • Members can find information and resources quickly 
  • Connects professionals and lets them build relationships
  • Gain new customers
  • Discover your customers’ needs and opinions 
  • Be inspired with fresh ideas
  • Collaborate with influencers or advocates
  • It gives your brand exposure and expands the network
  • This leads to generating more revenue 
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1.3. Types of Online Communities 

To get a better idea of the platform you want to build your online community on, I’ll explore the two main types of online communities: free and branded

1.3.1. Free Communities 

These communities are open to the public and available for anyone to join


Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are some of the platforms where online communities are created. 


It’s easy to start a community on these types of platforms because anyone can create a free account and join a group.


If you still want to keep the group exclusive, you can create a private group that people will have to request to join. 


This way you can assess the audience you want to cater to. 


Here are common platforms to build a free community on: 

  • Facebook: Facebook groups are very popular, and they are a successful medium for engagement with your audience. It’s a great way to increase traffic to your site. 
  • Quora: You’ll be able to ask direct questions and start discussions on a forum like Quora. Consumers generally go to platforms like this for advice and suggestions, which could lead them to your business.
  • Slack: Slack is a suitable platform for building a community that’s enclosed and structured.  You can create channels for specific subjects so users know which channel is for support, which is for suggestions or ideas, and so on. 

1.3.2. Branded Communities

Branded (or Owned) communities work a little differently. They are platforms that you create or own


They require certain login details or other specifics, so it’s not open to the public


Branded communities tend to be a group of loyal customers that interact with each other, the employees, and the management team.


An example is if you build a community on your website by opening a forum for your members. 


It should reflect the same main features of a social media platform, like a Facebook group, but you’ll have extra control over managing the forum. 


You’ll have access to more analytics than you would on a free platform, but it will take a lot of marketing to gain members since it won’t be as easy as inviting someone to a group. 


An all-in-one tool like systeme.io will allow you to monitor analytics, handle your marketing, run affiliate programs, and loads more. 

2. 6 Steps to Build an Online Community and Generate $5,000/month 

online communities

Now that you know all about why online communities add value to your brand and business, I’ll break down the steps so you can go ahead and start building! 

2.1. Clarify Your Goals 

Whenever you start planning something, the first thing you’ve got to do is set out your goals


You have to know what you’re aiming to achieve before you dive in.  


Are you hoping to attract new customers? 


Do you need to increase your brand awareness


Or, would you like to make more sales


To achieve a goal of $5,000/month in revenue, you’ll need to make 100 sales if your product costs $50. 


No matter the specific goals, you should aim to build a community with members from your target audience.  


Consider what experience you can provide your members with. 


Think about your ideal member and what the community can do for them. 


Something to remember when defining your goals is that it will take time to build a community. 


Start small and keep building. 

2.2. Choose a Platform 

Social media

Now that you’ve got your goals mapped out, it’s time to choose a platform to build your community. 


You’ll have to decide whether you want to go with a free or branded community. 


This should depend on the goals you set out. 


My suggestion is to build a free community if you’re aiming to widen your reach and gain potential customers, as well as create brand awareness. 


If your focus is to nurture relationships with loyal customers, consider building a branded community.


You should also consider the number of people you’re looking to have in the community. 


Is it going to be a private group of 50 people? Or are you hoping to reach thousands of members? 


Think about the type of forum you’re creating. 


You could create a forum based on a shared interest, like fitness, where members would share advice and experiences. 


Or, you could create an informational forum where members can discuss specifics related to your product or service.  


Finally, you can evaluate more detailed features of your platform, like analytics and flexibility.


Choosing a platform is one of the key factors in generating $5,000/month in revenue


Utilizing platforms like Quora, even if you don’t host your community there, will give you access to millions of users, and you’d be sure to find your target audience amongst them. 


You could search for keywords within your niche and see what questions are being asked and what topics are being discussed. 


You can tag your content in these forums, immediately driving traffic to your site.  

2.3. Create Guidelines

Communities need rules and guidelines to clarify the type of behavior that is expected in the group. 


Some common rules are: 

  • No use of profanity  
  • Speak respectfully to other members
  • No discrimination or harassment (no trolling)
  • No promoting your own or other products

You can include other rules specific to your business. 


Ensure that members agree to your rules before they join, and remove them if they don’t abide by the guidelines. 

2.4. Identify Stakeholders and Team

Team

Within your community, you’ll need to develop a small team that takes on various roles. 


If you’re a solopreneur you’ll probably run everything on your own, but you can grow your team as your community grows.  

❖ Manager 

The community manager will work closely with the members of the group and the rest of your team. 


They will be responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly


If you don’t have the budget to hire a manager, consider asking an active member if they’d be willing to take on the role. 

❖ Social media marketers 

These marketers will focus on creating and promoting content that will boost engagement in your community.

❖ Support team 

The support team will handle all technical queries and issues and offer customer service to members of the community. 

2.5. Launch Your Community 

This is what it all comes down to: It’s time to set up your community! 


The way you construct it will depend on the type of platform you chose. I’ll provide you with the main steps to launch your community. 

  • Create your group: Design the look of your platform, update the description of your group, and include images of your brand. Lastly, you can add membership questions for incoming members.


  • Roles of team members: Ensure that each role is fulfilled and that team members are confident in handling their tasks. 


  • Enable features: Decide which features you’ll need to implement and see if they function the way you want them to.  


  • Test member sign-in: Make sure that the sign-in and account creation works and that members can access your group. Review the membership questions. 


  • Post welcoming content: A welcome message and tagging your new members is a great way to initiate interactions in the group. 

You’re ready to go! Invite a few loyal customers to join the group and start from there. 

 ready to go

2.6. Market Your Community 

You’ve reached the final step! After you’ve launched your community, the only thing left to do is to market and promote it


Here are the best ways to market your community:

  • Email subscribers. Enclose the information about your group in your newsletter, and include a link to join the group.
  • Invite acquaintances or Facebook friends that are in your niche.
  • Encourage members to invite friends, colleagues, and anyone who might be interested in joining the community. 
  • As always, promote the group on your social media platforms for maximum exposure. 
  • Collaborate with influencers to promote your content and community. 

Once your community is up and running, be sure to keep track of the analytics so you can measure the success of the group


Measuring click-through rates, sign-up rates, and conversion rates will show you if you need to improve your marketing strategies. 

3. Conclusion 

Online communities boost engagement, build brand awareness, and allow you to strengthen relationships with existing customers. 


Developing an online community will take time, but it’s definitely worth it


Follow these steps to discover the value of building an online community and to see an increase in revenue. 

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