If one were to observe the difference between stagnant and growing companies – it would be wise to look no further than their community. Word of mouth advertising has now been fully digitized in today’s era and the only way to separate yourself from your competitors is to create an environment that makes user interaction effortless. In order to accomplish a community that reflects the integrity, respect, and awareness of your brand, it is essential that you use online community tools that automate redundant tasks to help you build a larger community in your work force.
#1 – Socious Community Software
This is one of the leading platforms in building online communities. If a business owner wants their customers to stay engaged with their brand – it is essential that they stimulate user conversation. Here are some of the ways in which socious helps the business owner accomplish this very task.
Discussion Forums – The full-featured discussion forums will allow users to interact with each other. Furthermore, when someone has responded to their query, they will be able to reply through the website, e-mail or, smartphone.
Membership Management – If you website requires that you have members in order to operate – this software makes the management of these members easy and care-free. It also makes things like signing up and account deletion very easy.
Event Management – Are you throwing a meeting at the end of the month? Maybe you want to schedule an industry conference. With Socious all-in-one community software – you will have the ability to collect sign-ups and have people RSVP to these meetings. If the event requires a fee, there are also options in which money can be collected before the sign-up is fully complete.
Website & Content Management – This is especially useful for business owners whose product is essentially a “guide” or “tutorial” on how to achieve a specific goal. Having this by your side will make member management and “member’s only premium content” much easier to post, update, and delete.
Social Network – When one thinks of social networks, they automatically think of Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn – however, the internet is full with “mini-social networks” that are perfect for smaller, specialized groups of people. In other words, a business does not have to be a multi-billion dollar social network in order for this to serve its purpose. Simply use it to increase word of mouth marketing within your company’s community.
#2 – Disqus
If attract a lot of website traffic due to high quality content, then it’s a great idea to adopt Disqus as your main commenting platform. Here are some of the reasons why Disqus is very effective at building communities for your specific website:
- Disqus is extremely easy to integrate to your website, it requires minimal coding skills.
- All user comments can be accessed through one central database.
- When the user receives a response, they will automatically receive an e-mail update, in which they come back to your blog and begin commenting some more.
- This increases the amount of user generated content which eventually attracts more visitors to your website.
#3 – Ning
If you are a small business,Ning is one of the best platforms to begin with. Most community building software are for medium to larger businesses – in the rush to appeal to big business, the small guy/gal gets left out. In response, Ning has set out to deliver a platform that makes building your community a cinch.
Even if you already have a Facebook, Twitter, or any other social presence, this platform seeks to help you establish your own branded community for your most loyal of followers. By doing this, the business owner will also be increasing traffic to their website by creating an environment in which user content generates and attracts even more search engine traffic!
#4 – Buddy Press
Are you the proud owner of a proficient WordPress blog? If you want to add a community element to what you’ve already built, one of the best bets is to choose Buddypress. Very few platforms offer equal versatility than this platform. Here are some ways you can use this if you are that proud WordPress blog owner:
- Create a sort of “intranet” so that your company can actually communicate with each other through a central website – as opposed to sending e-mails.
- Does your company attract a sociable community? It’s possible to use this platform to generate some buzz about the topic at hand.
This is a very useful tool that can significantly help you build your website community. The most underrated feature about BuddyPress is that it can also be attached to a WordPress website as a plugin – meaning that it’s not an “all-in-one” software. For example, there are plugins such as bbPress that function as simply a Forum add-on to your website.
#5 – Lithium
Lithium is an advanced platform that offers the everyday business owner a plethora of options when it comes to building an online community through a website. Many of the top companies in the United States use lithium to power their forums. For example, Skype uses Lithium to power their entire support network so that the best user content is easy to find. This helps Skype save money on things such as customer service. Other features with Lithium include but are not limited to:
- Creating a community based review system
- Having customer support through social network Q & A sessions
- Photo & Video upload features
- Facebook & Twitter integration
- And so much more
It’s one of the more powerful platforms, however, if you are a business owner who is just beginning, it is not the recommended place to start. However, if you are a business owner that has at least 10+ employees – you may want to use this to your advantage.
In conclusion, having an online community is a great idea for any business who is looking to grow without having to spend a large amount of money. With online communities, the key is to simply post high quality, relevant content and having your brand name spread like wildfire via word of mouth! Perform some additional research and find out which one is the best for your specific situation!