What is a community building platform? Which factors determine the success of community platforms?
Are you someone who has heard of community building platforms but don’t know what they are? Don’t worry, you are at the right place. A community building platform is an online space where people can engage, share information, and converse with others. All those Facebook Groups that you see are an example of community building. Some platforms like Tribe or ZohoConnect are other examples of interactive online communities.
These communities can be broadly distinguished under two categories: Free communities and brand communities. Free communities are where all sorts of people engage freely- LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Brand communities, on the other hand, consist of people loyal to a brand.
Any online business cannot survive without a sustainable brand community. The brands which have better communities have a competitive edge over the competitors. What is a platform in general terms, anyway? Something that is used to elevate an object, right? Similarly, community building platforms help a business scale up. But, what exactly is the use of these community platforms? With the help of community platforms you can:
- gather your target audience in one place
- communicate your ideas with your customers, fellow employees, and co-owners
- promote products easily
- discuss your brand and its services at length with the right people
- provide an opportunity for the audience to share feedback
- hold virtual events with as many people as you want (not to mention, without spending a penny!)
- build genuine relationships with the consumers
- learn about the changes you need to make in brand strategy
- convert regular customers into brand advocates
- share brand-related content routinely
- and so much more!
However, you have to be careful in selecting the platform. Many community platforms are rendered unsuccessful due to neglect by the owners. There are various components that decide how successful your community building will be. Some of which have been listed below:
You have to keep in mind that most members will be using the community platform from their phones. If it’s not mobile-responsive, the audience will be put off; they won’t use it. If they don’t use it, the whole purpose of creating a community will be defeated. It’s the most significant factor contributing to the success of a community building platform. Make sure the platform you choose is mobile-friendly. The members shouldn’t have to zoom in or out to read the contents on the page. The font size shouldn’t be too small. The contents should adjust themselves according to the screen size, and operating system of the user.
Ease of collaboration
What is the meaning of community building without collaboration, right? Community collaboration plays a vital role in rectifying the errors in your brand identity. People vote on polls, leave feedback, write comments, and so on. Sometimes you can even garner innovative ideas from devoted customers. Unlike collaborative tools, community platforms allow one-to-many instead of one-on-one interactions. Collaborations don’t happen on an individual level but on a collective level.
Ease of customization
A community platform should be so flexible that every community feels as if it’s made exclusively for them. From menu buttons to themes, everything must be customizable. The more personalized a platform is, the more comfortable the audience feels. If you manage to create a warm and hospitable environment inside the community, people will attach emotionally to it.
People have grown quite bold online. They tend to say things which they won’t say in real life. In order to stop online abuse, a community building platform must have a strong moderation policy. It is your duty as a leader of the community to make your members feel safe.
There can be two methods of checking abuse:
- Restricting membership access to non-registered users: Only registered users should be treated as members of the community. Most of the time, registered users are sincere as they identify themselves with the brand. They are less likely to make inappropriate comments.
- Gaining permission to edit, delete, and react to content: If the platform grants you permission to handle content, it should be a good choice.
Ease of tracking customer behaviour
A good community building platform allows you to keep a tab on customer behaviour. It comes with analytical tools that help in tracking which product is popular among customers, where their interest is shifting, etc. You can find out which customers are actively participating in the community. You can reward or thank them for their participation. When a member has a complaint to make, you can easily hear him and solve the issue.
Community building platforms are a game-changer. They contribute to the organic growth of a business. Successful platforms usually also help with increasing engagement through gamification, ranking content in search engines, and showing customized results to the users. But, most importantly, communities thrive when every member has a shared sense of purpose.