Objective: You will learn about a few online tools to create a growing, engaged, lifelong online community.
We discussed at length earlier how to grow your community. Now we want to look specifically at your online community, exploring what tools we can use to be most effective.
It’s first important to consider what you need out of this online community. You should factor in if you need to make sales online, if you need full control of community discussions, if you have any unique ways customers will engage with the community, if community membership is on a paid basis or if there are higher tiers that require payment, and more.
Once you understand what you need, you should assess what platforms can do that for you. There are many free platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.. However, these do not necessarily allow everything you need to do, and could also change on a whim if the big owning corporations decide to do so. There are also various freemium and paid platforms that can provide for different needs such as Tribe, Higher Logic, Vanilla, Discourse, and many others. You might start on a free platform as you build your online community, and then migrate everyone over to a more comprehensive community platform as you grow and your needs (and budget) adjust.
In the online world, feeling like a true community member is more elusive and important than ever before. If you can find a platform that enables you to meet your needs, you can build a stronger community where you retain more customers and drive increased engagement.
- Make a list of your needs from a community platform.
- Check out some of the community platforms mentioned above and assess if they meet your needs. Make a platform comparison chart so you can assess what might be right for your business.