The most successful businesses are built upon an important foundation – an engaged community. Building a community around your brand generates consistent, vibrant conversation throughout your target audience and thus generates demand for your products and services.
However, successful community building requires consistent, active support from your marketing team to maintain engaging conversations with your audience. So how do you do this? We’ve got a few insights.
Why Community Building Matters
Your community of fans is your most valuable asset when it comes to delivering sustainable business results. Also known as community marketing, your investment into engaging an active audience is incredibly important to your larger marketing strategy.
Community building can benefit your company in a number of ways. It enables you to foster loyalty within prospects and customers, as well as give customers a place to connect with and support each other. Providing this space for connection can improve your customer service offerings and also create a unified network where people can help each other.
Overall, a thriving, active community fuels your entire flywheel, improving the efficiency and value of each stage of the customer lifecycle.
You can build your community in a number of ways, including organically, such as word of mouth marketing. However, one of the best ways to build your community is by engaging in question and answer (Q&A) websites.
Q&A Sites and Building Your Community
Building communities requires you to fill the needs of potential and existing customers. And if you’re going to do this, what better place than on a Q&A site? On Q&A sites, people directly request information that you can provide for them, thus displaying the value your company can offer.
Engaging in Q&A communities comes with a myriad of benefits for your company. It can drive traffic to your website and boost your SEO via backlinks. It allows you to get to know your target audience more intimately, as you’re engaging with them on a platform that they frequent for finding information.
Finally, it allows you to establish credibility and authority with new audiences because Q&A sites are often full of previously untapped markets who will be receiving their first introduction to your brand and knowledge base.
Best Q&A Sites
There are tons of Q&A sites on the world wide web, and you might remember using Yahoo Answers back in the day. But today, some of the best Q&A sites for community building are Quora and Reddit.
Quora is a question and answer site that just passed its 10 year anniversary in June, and boasts around 200 million monthly visits. It's a great place to show the valuable information that you can offer to your audience, and how you can help them find solutions to their problems.
It's also a pathway for you to conduct market research in order to collect useful information on your audience. By asking questions on the platform, you can better understand how your audience operates, and what their challenges, pain points, and goals are.
How To Create a Profile and Use the Platform
Before you get started on your community building endeavors within Quora, you'll need to set up an account and profile. It's a simple process, but in case you need a little help, we'll run you through the steps.
First things first, you need to register an account on Quora. You can do this through your Google/Gmail account, or by connecting your Facebook account.
2. Choose Your Interests
Once you create an account, you'll be prompted to choose your interests from a wide range of categories. As a marketing agency, we chose categories like "content marketing," "digital advertising," and "business development." See if you can find 10 categories that are relevant to your business.
3. Customize Your Profile
Once you've set up your account and chosen your interests, it's time to customize your profile so people know who they're interacting with in their digital community. Make sure you include your job title, company, and industry in your profile credentials and description of yourself.
You can also add employment, education, and location credentials to help build authority around the information you're sharing.
Notice that in the right side bar, you can also include which topics you know about. This is an important box to pay attention to! Including your specialties within your industry will draw in the target audience you're looking for, as they'll turn to you for information on those topics.
Your profile page is also where you'll be able to track how much impact you're making in your community, using the 'Feeds' box in the left sidebar.
4. Your Quora Feed
Once you've got your profile set up, start exploring your feed! There's suggested topics and questions listed at the top of your feed, but you can also search through the categories you picked as your interests on the left sidebar.
5. Post Content
Once you've got your Quora profile all set up and you've explored your feed and chosen categories a bit, you can start to post content!
First, look through the questions that have already been asked by users, and see if you can provide any useful information to help answer them. This will show that you have valuable knowledge to offer, and you'll eventually be able to establish your presence as a thought leader within the community.
In addition to answering questions, you can create an original post in two different ways – by asking a question or sharing a link.
As mentioned before, try asking questions to gather information on your audience. Share links to articles and resources that you think will be valuable to the community, even if they aren't from your own company blog.
For example, sharing an article written by a pronounced thought leader will display that you and your brand are actively engaged within your industry, and it will encourage others to be as well.
Reddit has been around since 2005, and it’s grown to become every avid web user’s favorite place for falling down the deep dark rabbit hole of the internet. It's a discussion-based site that boasts a staggering 1.5 billion monthly visits.
How to Create a Profile and Use the Platform
1. Sign Up with Your Email
2. Choose a Username
3. Choose Your Communities
Once you sign up and register your username, Reddit will prompt you to choose categories you're interested in, just like with Quora. However, Reddit is organized a little differently than Quora. Instead of categories, they're known as subreddit communities that you can "join."
During this initial set up stage, the subreddits displayed in the selection box are just a small taste of the ones that are available. Once you get through this stage, search for communities that are relevant to your industry.
For example, if you search the term 'marketing' in Reddit, it brings up the related subreddits you can join, as well as related terms that have been searched by people.
When you navigate to these individual subreddits, you'll notice a few things. First, you'll see a feed of posts that are relevant to this category.
Next, you'll notice the right sidebar provides a description of the kind of audience you'll find within this subreddit, the number of members, and how many of them are currently active online at that very moment.
If you scroll down, you'll also find a list of 'community rules' that are in place for that particular subreddit, in order to ensure that only valuable, top quality content is posted.
4. Post Content
After you've joined a handful of subreddits, you can start posting content! Like Quora, you should craft a varied mix of engagement, including both comments and original posts.
There are various kinds of media that you can share to Reddit, including regular text posts, photos and videos, and shared links.
Other Community Spaces
In addition to traditional online community locations like Q&A sites, remember that social media is also a great place for community building! Facebook and LinkedIn groups, as well as Twitter chats, are all important platforms to utilize when you're looking to engage people and build a network throughout your audience.
Examples of Building Communities In Q&A Sites
Sometimes it helps to be lead by example. When it comes to community building for your brand, one of the best ways to learn how to do it is by watching those who are already successful at it. With that said, here are a few examples of how to build a community on Q&A sites.
Digital communication company Drift utilizes Quora to share their knowledge and provide valuable information to their audience. For example, take a look at how this Drift employee, Erik Devaney, answered a question on Quora about hypergrowth.
There's a lot more to Erik's response, but you can get a good idea of the value he's providing in his response from this short snippet.
He includes links to relevant resources, but also links back to his own company's page. He even used a portion of an existing Drift blog post he wrote to answer the question.
Like Drift, Modern Imprint has recognized the opportunity to showcase their brand as a company that can provide valuable information to its audience. They even created a business account for their company on Quora, so people know exactly who they're connecting with.
Check out this answer that Modern Imprint provided to a question someone asked about the benefits of social media strategy. Instead of promoting their company, they simply provided helpful information. Now, when this inquirer needs to look for more information on this topic, they may turn to Modern Imprint's blog for answers.
HubSpot has built such an active community on Reddit that they actually have their very own subreddit community with over 900 members. The HubSpot subreddit is a great place for users to turn when they have questions or need to troubleshoot an issue with the software.
Nothing says 'community' like a unified place where users can virtually congregate to discuss your brand, product, and services.
Another great way to build community through Reddit is by creating conversations to provoke thought. Check out how this user started a conversation in the business subreddit.
She begins by presenting a common thought within her topic area about the importance of marketing, and then opens it up to the opinions of others by asking "don't you think?" at the end of her post.
If we navigate to the profile page of this user, we'll see that she is a business professional. By creating conversations within the business subreddit, she's displaying that she's an active member in her industry's community. She's working to build thought leadership, and you can see that she is even hosting a workshop on the subject for fellow professionals.
Seek to Understand and Delight
While it requires an investment of time and talent, your ROI on community building can be substantial. Boosting active engagement amongst your audience on Q&A sites inspires brand loyalty, which is an invaluable element for your business.
People quickly lose interest in companies that simply sit back on their haunches and don't express their drive to move forward in their industry. Don't be one of those companies.
The best way to delight you target audience is by first understanding them – their goals, needs, and challenges. Actively engaging within the communities you've built will allow you develop this more intimate level of understanding, and thus, you will know exactly how to better please your customers.