If you have a following online, communities are an excellent next step to grow your brand and give back to your fanbase. But why are communities becoming the topic of discussion for every influencer and brand these days? And how can you get onboard with this ages-old, yet highly effective method of keeping your fanbase alive and strong?
Nas.io is committed to helping people like you build communities, and that’s why we offer the perfect platform to help you do it.
Building a community element around your brand has many benefits. Globally recognized brands from WhatsApp to Facebook are going all in and releasing improved community and group features in an attempt to build a better experience overall for members, and community managers like you.
And there’s a reason for this! After all, communities help us create long-lasting connections and have even proven to increase a brand’s revenue by as much as 20%.
What is a “community” really?
You might look at your social media accounts and think, this is a community! Why would I need to “build one” when I already have one on Instagram?
Well, because there’s a difference between having a community where you post and people respond, versus having your members actually drive engagement as well.
For example, you could technically start a social community through a platform like Substack, where you write and send newsletters to your subscribers, who can also comment and share on the Substack platform – which is similar to sharing a blog post or an instagram post.
But a community experience like this is limited – and is only really there when a new post is created by the influencer. There’s limited interaction, you have limited control, and it’s not a community-focused platform. Social media and Substack follow more of the “one-to-many” communication model. What you want for a community is a “many-to-many” communication model.
When you build your community, you want to focus on building a powerful experience where the driver is not your content, it’s about fostering communication, support and sharing between your members who all share a similar goal.
Turning your fan base into a community can have significant benefits to help your audience in different ways. It can help them:
- Find answers in a fraction of the time: It can sometimes take hours and hours when trying to find a simple solution on search engines. But when you have instant access to a community, you can easily find what you’re looking for from people who are like-minded – and who you can talk to directly. Especially if you are part of a global community, there are people that are active 24/7 thanks to timezones, and who might have just the answer you need.
- Relationship & network building – When fans get to join a community, this means that they have the opportunity to network and build relationships with other fans. Not only this, but having an online community now becomes a place of support whether it be for finding answers to questions, but also finding simple emotional and motivational support. It’s a great way for members to have access to accountability partners, people who can give them feedback – and even just people who they can share a common interest with.
- Extra resources: Part of joining a community means having a built-in support system and network – but also a place where members can find material resources whether it be links, exclusive content, panel discussions, event passes, research, tools and more that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
And through providing this extra value, it has benefits for you and your brand in return. For example, hosting a community for your fans is a great way to:
1. Increase your revenue
When you build a community product around your brand, you’re also diversifying your income stream.
You can charge consistent subscription fees for your community, or give discounts and early-bird access to any of your future product launches. With a community, you now have a built-in loyal audience that is far more likely to invest in your future products – and in the end, help you generate a larger, and more diverse stream of income.
2. Encourage engagement
When fans get to participate in a community hosted by an influencer that they look up to, they start to feel as though they are part of the brand and part of your world, rather than feeling like just another viewer commenting on your posts. It helps encourage fan participation and engagement off-platform as well – whether it be through social media, or through investing in your products.
They’ll also be more likely to recommend you to others, share your content, share your story, and express their experiences with your brand. In short, community is key to promote better engagement amongst your fan base.
3. Build deeper, long-lasting relationships
When you simply have a bunch of fans following you on social media – it’s very likely that many of them will eventually leave. You don’t know many of them, except for maybe a familiar username. After all, community on social media tends to be mainly a one-way communication system.
The influencer posts online, the fans like it, fight for their attention and hardly ever get seen or heard in the stream of thousands of other comments (some by people who don’t even like the creator, and just feel like spamming the comments section for fun).
However if you create a community product, you are automatically creating a new model of communication between you and your fans, and your fans and their peers. Your fans are instantly going to feel more heard, and more connected with you. Especially when you respond to them and interact with them on the community platform. It’s a way of building stronger, longer-lasting relationships with those fans because they feel seen.
Not to mention – especially if you charge a subscription fee – you’re mostly going to get dedicated people joining the space. This means the community experience will be stronger, and won’t be clouded by problematic spammers.
3. Build a larger following
People in your community also get to express themselves more and share their story, rather than just you sharing your story with them. This part of community products are especially known to produce what’s called a “network effect” – which simply means that the more people use it and are compatible with it, the better the product itself becomes. That means more people will join, the product will keep improving, and the fanbase will keep growing.
When it comes to building a community, however, there are steps to take so it doesn’t end up like one of those sad, Facebook group communities where nobody talks, statuses don’t get seen, the members aren’t fully invested – and it just eventually becomes a spam group that no one uses.
So, how do you avoid this, and build a community that will last?
How to start turning your fan base into a community
Pinpoint your communities focus
When you start to build out your community, you want to make sure that you have a narrow focus for what exactly you want to accomplish with this community. So how exactly do you do this? Well first, ask yourself:
- What am I passionate about?
- What problem is my audience experiencing?
- What skills do I have, and what can I teach?
While self-reflection is crucial, it’s also extremely important to do research. If you’re not quite sure how to focus your community experience and create something incredible, start looking into other communities that are being hosted by similar creators, with similar fan bases.
Do some qualitative research as well – go into the field and interview people in order to build an experience that people will truly enjoy and use. So, take to Instagram or whatever platform you want, and ask your audience. Host a focus group. Explain your idea (if you already have one) and see what they think. Then, ask what they would like to see in your community. What would they benefit from? What’s their biggest problem they’re facing in an industry right now, and how could a community help them solve it?
And in order to do this properly, you first have to:
Narrow in on your target audience.
Oftentimes, especially if you’re a content creator online building an online community – it’s best to focus on reaching an audience that is more tech and social media oriented (which would mainly be younger demographics). This is especially true if you’re building a problem-solving community, because younger folks tend to be more focused on advocacy and changing systems.
However this is not to say that older audiences wouldn’t join – it will simply help you attract like minded people into your group (no matter what age) if you properly narrow in your focus on one type of person.
So, find what types of people make up most of your audience, and focus on building your community experience to suit them and their needs.
Pick a community-building platform
The community-building platform that you choose is very important when picking the community experience you’re going to create for your fans. There are plenty of different platforms out there to choose from – from Nas.io, to Mighty Networks, To Circle, To Tribe, and many, many more.
However, it’s best to focus on picking a platform that allows you to have chats, has proper-functioning notifications and features, allows people to make posts, and share content easily. Overall, here are some important features we think are important to look out for when choosing a community-building platform:
- Ownership over data
- Integrations with other platforms
- Monetization options (accepts global currency)
- Easy and accessible to use
- Good customer service
- Customizability and optimized for the user
- Something with all-in-one capabilities (email services, video hosting etc.)
Before choosing though, make sure to do your research to find out which one supports your ultimate mission and your personal needs as a community host.
Market your community experience
While newsletters aren’t really the way to build a community that will drive your fanbase into a more interactive experience within your brand – it’s extremely effective to help market your community, and start to build a bit more intimate connection with your fans.
Think about it: when you show up in someone’s inbox, it’s far more personal than them simply seeing your content in passing on your Instagram feed. Emails are more intimate, and they are actually very effective in driving conversions. In fact 64% of B2B marketers in 2021 claimed that email marketing was what helped them achieve their business goals that year – and 81% said it was still their top marketing strategy.
This means building an email newsletter around your community is a great way to start building your fan base into a community.
Build your community on Nas.io
If you’re looking for a forward-thinking platform to build your community on, Nas.io is the best, up-and-coming community platform in 2022. Nas.io is a platform that is directly committed to building functional, collaborative communities online for your fanbase.
We offer integrations with your most-used apps from Discord to WhatsApp – and we offer global payment options (including cryptocurrency). With Nas.io, you have the option to set up a community and manage it yourself, or get a team of community experts behind Nas Academy and Nas Daily to help you out.
When you begin your community, your members will also get access to free, pre-curated learning content from experts in the field like Bozoma Saint John, Ben Yu and more. We want to help you build a customized space where you can create opportunities for growth, connection and learning with your unique fan base – and all of our user-friendly tools will help you bring that vision to life.
Learn more at Nas.io, and start building that community today.