Yes—times are hard. As the cases of Coronavirus (Covid-19) increase on an hourly basis, the difficulties we face do too. It’s hard and for some companies life threatening. But we cannot give up and we must look for ways to get out of this situation stronger.
Faced with a lot of travel and personal contact restrictions, there has never been a better time to build—and engage with—your online community. Something which could positively transform your company in the long term.
Here are 5 reasons why:
1. You need to stay connected with your customers—more than ever
Companies are cancelling in-person events, and face-to-face meetings are being replaced by virtual calls. But even if you usually don’t have a lot of face to face meetings with customers, this is not a time to shy away from connection. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s now vital to build, and maintain as much trust and engagement with your customers as possible.
An online community is that human way to connect with your customers. It keeps them informed and engaged in discussions and it facilitates that so deeply needed continuous connection—online.
2. You can take events online and make use of user groups
With no face-to-face conferences or meet-ups possible in the upcoming time, you can use your online community to bring people together through user groups or online events. User groups can be used to segment your customers per city, or business segment for example, to ensure specific conversations can continue online. Within these user groups, you can let customers share best practices online versus in an offline setting. This is more important than ever given the current situation.
What’s more, for those of us seeking to mitigate from the impact of in-person event cancellations, running online events, such as webinars, can be just as effective. In your community you can publish and promote an event to your user base, while keeping the conversation going long after the event is over. Generating content before, and after, heightens interest and engagement from users around your event.
3. You can easily keep peer-to-peer discussions going online
In these times, the more communication the better. Use your online community to easily connect your customers with each other. Building out these connections helps create a sense of belonging among your customer base and facilitate the sharing of best practices. In this challenging economic situation, learning from each other is key. You should focus on your current customers now, more than ever, to keep those renewals flowing in. Increasing NPS and peer-to-peer engagement is a vital way to do just that.
4. You’re always there with a central relevant source of information
Many people are working from home with less packed meeting schedules. They are more willing and able to explore, learn and search for information online.
Your community can offer a one-stop-shop where people can learn more about your brand, find answers they are looking for and connect with you directly. From how-to’s, to customer stories, to interesting product developments, the community can act as the go-to place for people to find information. It’s an all in one central customer platform that’s packed with SEO content and drives traffic to your brand. It's now time to over communicate. It's time to let people know you are there in an informal, human way.
5. You have the opportunity to build and engage a community that lasts forever
Within our companies, we should be thinking of how we can get out of this situation stronger. Of course our staff are affected and our goals are under pressure. We need to deal with that. But we should keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive and make sure our company survives and becomes stronger, where possible.
We need to act quickly, effectively and creatively—without losing the human touch. Building your online community has long-term benefits. You can become that brand everyone is talking about. A brand with true strong connections. A brand facilitated by a strong engaging online community platform, that lasts forever. And you can start building that today.
If you need advice on building your online community -- I’m happy to help. Leave me a message, or get in touch on Linkedin, and we'll get something scheduled. Free of charge and without any obligations. Just to help.
And as we all go through this together, the most important thing is—stay safe.
By Robin van Lieshout
CEO & Co-Founder at inSided, with over 15 years of community experience. Robin is responsible for overall strategy, company culture and finance. Connect on Linkedin