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How to Start a Successful Online Community: A Step-by-Step Guide
Home Business
By: Iryna Seredynska Email Article
Word Count: 861 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


Over the years, the way people buy has dramatically changed. Nowadays, people have access to product reviews; they are conducting their research. Buyers are looking for recommendations before making the final decision, and online communities are beginning to take the central role in this process.

Around 75% of business acquirers do their research online before buying; hence, B2B communities, built on Mytalk, can be used to explain and educate future clients and help them make the decisions.

Such online forums assist people giving them a chance to find out about the product from existing customers, learn their experience and offer the communities the feedback. It can be used to build trust and brand awareness.
If you decided to start a new community or improve the existing one, it is crucial to prepare a detailed plan to ensure success.

At first, you should think about the reasons why this community needs to be built. The factors can be various. You can try to support your business, or you want to counteract negative reviews and find excited fans.

Regardless of the motivation, you should always ask yourself two questions:

* What is the best platform to build the community on?

* Why should I interact with customers online?

Follow the article below to find out about the process of setting up an online community in more detail.

Owned Community Forums vs. Free: Which One to Choose?

Some people interchange the terms community platforms and social media networks. However, there is a vivid difference. A social media network can be built around users, who have nothing in common whereas communities are created around a specific issue.

Community forums are owned by a brand and offer all advantages of the social media platform. It provides more control and flexibility on how people converse with each other. It also allows owners to add certain features like gamification and customer design, improving the user experience.

How to Establish a Successful Online Community
Find the right platform.

Usually, there are two types of forums: one that exists around shared interests and the other that provides more information.

With the first type, you surround yourself with people that share shame interests in a common topic, which they can research and connect, developing more questions. Informational forums are better fitted for creating a space for the community to share content linked with your product.

Once you decided on the type of the forum you like to create, you can use Mytalk website to start building it.

Design the launch framework

When determining the problem you want to discuss in your community, you should think if you're going to increase collaboration or demand for your product or service, perhaps you wish to raise your customer satisfaction rating. Knowing these will make it simpler to understand the reasons why you are launching your community.

Describe Key Stakeholders

Once you are clear on the need for creating your community, then you need to find your business’s stakeholders. There are three categories;

* People who will be managing your community such as a community manager, marketing departments or customer support.

* People who will be influenced by your community. In case of any feedback, it should be processed by appropriate personnel.

*Upper management, who are responsible for the community and everything that is happening inside.
Typically, only one person will be responsible for the community launch.

Set up the community

The first step is to decide where to build it. If you are doing it on your own or employing others for this task, you wish to make sure you are aware of the software you will be using. It is the time to ask for demo versions on Mytalk. You also need to create initial categories and define roles of staff and members on this stage.

Start a Soft Launch

When you are happy that everything is set up, it is time to prepare a soft launch. The purpose of which is to get your community ready for your full and public start. It occurs in three stages:

*Preparing for the Soft Launch. At this stage, your community should be ready to be launched. It would be best if you started off with about ten discussions using existing material. Let your employees start conversations.
* Internal Soft Launch. The purpose of this stage is to find the problems using trusted people in the company before the forum goes public.
*Public Soft Launch. This launch will be restricted to a selected audience that you would like to get feedback on your new community forum.

Promote Your Forum
Let your target audience know about the launch. Use your presence online to do so. Promote the start on your website, through email communication, by having your customer support team tell your existing and potential customers about the launch.

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