The Pipeline Guest Post – Don F Perkins
Many business owners are finding that a great way to create greater customer engagement is to build an online community of users and fans who share a common interest which has something to do with their product, service or the ideologies behind their business. There are many ways to do this and many formats that will work depending on the participants and their personas. Some of the better known platforms to choose from today are Linkedin, Focus Expert Network, Namesake, Quora, Stack Overflow, PInterest and even Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and StumbleUpon to some degree. Each has their own personality, however there are some common elements. Here are a few guiding principles that are key to successful customer engagement through online communities:
Learning and Growing Through Online Communities
An online community is a great place for people to learn more about a topic, a technology or a skill for no cost and very little time commitment. It also offers a great place for people to showcase their expertise. By creating a LinkedIn group for example, where people can ask questions or poll the group, and others can offer their answers and expertise, which helps build their credibility, both the giver and receiver can mutually benefit from the community’s discussions. Each person decides how often and at what level they will participate, so if you have initiative, you can get a lot out of a group, whether you are a learner or an expert looking for more influence and credibility.
Sharing and Networking In Online Communities
Online community can be an ideal place to build connections, share insights and go deeper on topics relevant to the group as well as to each of it’s members. People are not professionals only, but have many interests and facets to their lives. In online communities, it’s not uncommon to see people build relationships that span other unrelated areas of their lives and build networks of colleagues who then help them get in touch with others in their communities around those shared interests. As an added bonus, online communities generally create a kind of “three way trust” that helps make connecting with someone you don’t know far less threatening and foreign feeling. So for example: She wants to know you. Because I know her and I know you, I can vouch for her character, so you can trust her inasmuch you trust me.
Everybody Has Something To Gain From a Good Online Community
When an online community is working well, it provides important data as a primary element, but it can also be an enjoyable and even entertaining place to be. When this is the case, participants sense that they will not only realize a short term benefit of learning something new or perhaps brightening an otherwise dull spot in their day, but also the long term mutual benefits of making new connections and building credible, valuable relationships.
Developing Clout In Widening Circles
If you take the time to engage customers in online communities – to listen and address their concerns, to help them build their own influence in their chosen field, then the online community becomes an even more valuable resource for them: something that helps the user gain clout and credibility among their peers and beyond. By this, not only can you gain a better understanding of what they value, who they respect and admire, where they are headed and how fast, you can build tremendous rapport and good will as well. Engagement like this can take time, so be patient, but if you will put forth a consistent solid effort, online communities can yield tremendous results and opportunities for continued growth.
About Don Perkins
Don is a sales and marketing professional with over 15 years experience in technology sales, marketing and consulting.