What Community Means for Your Business
I want to actually talk about what community means for your business. Because we've talked about a few different things, right? We've talked about free Facebook groups. I've talked about Mighty Networks a little bit already, which is my favorite. We've talked about Slack, we've talked about about email lists and maybe initial launches, and we've talked about what community is and what it isn't. But let's get really tactical with that. What is it exactly that I am not talking about? I am not talking about a Facebook group that exists for the sole purpose of selling your product or service. Okay, I think we've kind of got that one out there. If you are here because you want to know how to start a free Facebook group so you can sell more of blank, and that is your only purpose in building that free Facebook group, this isn't the right class for you. I'm not gonna talk about that, please don't ask me those questions. (laughs) Because you're gonna slow my geeking-out mojo down. (audience la...
ughter) Now that doesn't mean that this class isn't right for you and that we're not going to talk about starting a Facebook group that also happens to help you sell more of those things, but it's not the sole purpose for what you're doing. We're also not gonna talk about, or, what we're talking about here, is not, internet forums run amok. And I think Kristen's question sort of gets to this initial fear, right? That we're gonna build this thing and then all of these horrible redditors are gonna come in and do horrible things, and say horrible things and be mean to you, right? That's not what we're talking about and everything that we do talk about in this class, is going to help prevent that from happening. So, if you've had a negative experience with trolls in the past, if you've had a negative experience with communities you've been a part of, kinda going down hill over time, just because they've gotten out of hand, we're gonna talk all the things that you're gonna put in place that aren't ever gonna let that happen. We're also not talking about just a different name or face to your inbox. So I think another fear that people have with community building is "Okay, I built this community "and now people have access to me at 3:00 a.m. on Sundays "and they're gonna expect a response." No. Again. Everything we talk about for the rest of this class is going to prevent that from happening. You absolutely can prevent that, this does not have to become a burden on you. This should be something that frees you, that allows you to lift yourself up as a leader, as a movement maker, instead of something that drags you down like an email inbox. (laughs) We are also not just talking about a less intimidating email list. A trend that I've seen over the last three or four years is people building Facebook groups instead of building email lists because if feels less intimidating. And a lot of Facebook group classes, products, programs, have been kind of built with that purpose in mind. That is not what we are talking about. Your community is not your email list. You may be able, again, use your community to sell more of what you're selling. You will be able to do that. That's one of the beautiful side effects, right, that I was talking about earlier. But it is not an email list, and you're not gonna use it like an email list, okay? Your email list and your community, two separate things. "So, what is community then, Tara? "Because that's what I thought community was all about?" (laughs) A community can be, and maybe I should have made is can be. A community can be a product in and of itself. It's something you can sell or give away for free, but it deserves its own space, it deserves its own part of your strategy, it deserves time and attention all its own. A community can be a support network associated with a product or service. So just because you have a product that also needs support, doesn't mean that that can't also be a community. Robbie Baxter talks about the QuickBooks, the Intuit support network that exists along side that product. And it is absolutely a community, I think its Slack, has a community space as well, that is not on Slack but also has, just a really good user base where people care about each other. And there's probably products that you've used. Active, right? Would be another good example of exactly what we're talking about. It's a support network. It's based on a product, but it's not about the product, it's just based on the product, right? The product is what ties people together outside also of their mutual concerns for fitness and feeling good and doing more with their bodies. A community can be an interest or identity-based social network, so this is an opportunity to take those big, big, big feeds, those crazy bulletin boards of crap, that image that I showed you earlier, and narrow it down so the only people in that social network are people who share our particular interests, share our particular identity, share our particular need. You can also build an in-person group from this class. So, let's say you have, you love online and you dig what I said about prodigy and getting online and it just changing your life, but you're really driven to build an in-person community, maybe it's a neighborhood community, maybe it's a business community in-person, maybe it's a writing community in-person. Absolutely. All of these things still apply. It is equally applicable online as it is offline. You're probably just not gonna choose a software platform. But, you probably will. It can also be non-profit or for profit. You could use this class and this idea of community building as part of your brand to brand a non-profit. And build something, build a support network that way. You can also make good money off of this, alright? And it can be free or paid. So, what we're talking about in terms of community is incredibly expansive, but there are some particular things that it is absolutely not. And so, I wanted to get that out of the way as well. So again, you can not waste your time by continue watching. You guys have to continue wasting your time. (students laugh) You don't have to continue watching your time if you were hoping for something different. We are focused on actual community building here, and how it is gonna support growing your business. What fears or excitement do you guys have about anything I just talked about, or this idea of community building in general? 'Cuz I know there tends to be a lot, we've covered some of them. And even if you just wanna say like "Yeah, you covered "it already, but this was my fear", I'm totally down with that. Denise, did you have something?
The amount of work, and taking it off me, and sharing the burden, so stepping away from it.
Yeah, so you're both excited and fearing that?
Yeah, love it. (laughs) That's a good way to approach that one. Yes.
Hey, so I'm Jenn, and one of my concerns is just getting buy-in from people to invest in the community.
To put the effort into make more than one comment, more than one post and keep coming back, especially when it's new.
Oh yeah, we're gonna talk about that, fo sho. Excellent. What else?
Getting new members.
Getting new members? Yeah, absolutely. We're totally gonna talk about that. Yep, Nadia.
Engagement. I have two Facebook groups right now, and let me tell you, being the only one to post in the group, most of the time, is kind of daunting.
Yes. Absolutely. We're gonna talk tons about engagement. We're actually gonna, I'm gonna steal Gina and Audra from Mighty Networks idea of member contribution, and we're gonna talk about how to get your members contributing to your network instead of just engagement. Yeah.
I'm actually really excited because another hat I wear is president of the school board.
And I am a small school with a very small campus and there's getting people connected around our children's education is really exciting so I really appreciate that you put the non-profit part up there as well.
Yeah. Cool! Great! Alice.
I'm extremely excited right now, yes the fears about the load of work. Before we even started I had a conversation where I'm like, "I am not at all interested in actually "building a community." (laughs) I actually came in here going, "No, never."
And as usual, "I'm never gonna start a business" And here I am. Honestly, I started my business because of a download which just kinda happened one day where I just made a brand called Colabora Collective, which is a community based around being creative together. There's lots more to it, but anyway, I dropped it because I realized, there are so many ideas with it, but I just couldn't even understand or it just was a couple, three years ago, so the sense of community people now have, or the community building that people are doing now, was, I don't know, I couldn't see it then. So, I'm really excited about digging into that, and I'm really clear that also with my big mission, which we'll probably get to at some point.
I have, anyway, I'm so excited! (laughs)
When you have a small business, you’re always on the lookout for your next customer. They might pop up at a networking event, they could subscribe to your email list, they might fill out the contact form on your website.
Too often, knowing where your next customer is going to come from seems unpredictable at best and, at worst, like a huge gamble.
Luckily, there’s a way to ensure you always know where your next customer is coming from—and that your existing customers purchase from you more often—and that’s by building a community.
All sorts of businesses can benefit from making community-building part of their growth strategy and many can benefit from making it part of their business model, too. Whether it’s an informal community (like an email list or Instagram hashtag), a brand-driven community (like a free Facebook group that brings together people in love with the same brand and values), or a dedicated community (like a local group, interest-based social network, or a support group, your business can cultivate deeper connections with existing and potential customers.
Of course, an engaged community doesn’t just happen. If you want to reap the benefits of community-building for your business, you need a plan.
In Build a Community & Grow Your Standout Business, Tara Gentile, the founder of the small business support & social network CoCommercial, will share the must-dos, nice-to-haves, and compelling extras you need to make the most of the community you build around your business. By the end of this class, you’ll have a plan for making community-building an integral part of your marketing strategy—and always knowing where your next customer will come from.
Tara will cover:
- Simple ways to generate community without a group or forum
- Why and how to level up into a dedicated space for your business’s community
- How to create a clear reason Why for joining or participating in your community
- The systems and procedures you’ll need to manage the workload
- How to avoid community management burnout
- How to plan to earn more through your community—whether that’s through charging for membership, selling add-on offers, or generating more word of mouth marketing
Stop waiting for your next customer to come to you and start building a community that brings new business your way every day.