6 Tips for Fostering an Online Community – Part 2

Continuing our community-building tips from last week…

#2: Know Your Stuff

Knowing these answers about your business can lend itself to building credibility as a business within your online community. Audience members learn to trust those representing businesses that know what they are talking about.

You can build that trust by using your knowledge base to answer their questions, listen to their feedback, troubleshoot their issues and—if you can—fix the problems they have with your product or service. Every conversation you have with an audience member is an opportunity to build or destroy your business’s credibility!

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the following questions about your community-building efforts:

  • Are we fostering mutual respect or disrespect in our response?
  • Is there ever a time to admit that we do not know what the answer is and that we need to do our homework before answering?
  • Is there a time to admit that a competitor may be a better option for a customer’s needs?
  • Is there someone else in the business that can answer a question or respond to negative feedback better than I can?

Remember, how you respond to a negative comment or complaint is just as much a credibility opportunity as how you respond to the compliments and positive feedback.

#3: Build Brand Ambassadors
While your business can certainly respond to many of the needs of the online community, is it wise for the business to dictate all of the interactions of the audience? Not always.

Consider the possibility that you may not always have the best answer for building the community and may need to let the community build itself. Your customers have the potential to be your best brand ambassadors.

The audience members should be encouraged to build relationships and connections with one another and grow dynamic interactions within your online community. The benefit to you, you ask? Your business is the commonality in the community.

Who can better attest to the viability and relevance of your product or service than the customers? You as a business representative are admittedly biased in your opinions of your products or services and this is limiting. Unbind your community and encourage it to explore the possibilities in the experiences of other audience members!

Want more tips like these?  Come back next week for the final in our 3-part mini-series!