Creating an online presence is one thing but creating, building and sustaining an online community is very much another.
Yes, you want to have a social media page that promotes your brand and products but, if you want to be seen and thought of as an authority or leader in the Alternative Finance industry, having some form of community where your investors go to gain knowledge is the next step to increasing those engagement rates.
So, let’s start by defining what an online community is.
Basically, an online community is a group of people rallying around a shared common interest, value or good.
Psychology research has shown that it is completely natural for people to want to communicate with other like-minded individuals, so creating a space for an online community to grow will help build a close bond between your business and your customers.
Your online community should be a place for fruitful discussions, diverse opinions and inspiration, so encouraging your community members to engage with each other is a great way of building that real community feeling. As well as encouraging other members to engage in conversations, you should be involved too – it will provide you with useful and relevant insights into the thoughts and actions of your investors and followers.
A great way to improve your community engagement rates is to include influencers and complementary businesses, this helps add value to your members' lives too! You'll be giving them access to a wealth of opinions from the Alternative Finance and Peer to Peer industry. Remember, developing an online community is not just supplying a product, service, or platform.
Online communities work well when you use the philosophy of reciprocity. Providing more value to your audience means there’s an increased chance they will contribute meaningfully to the community. The aspiration for many is to have a community full of members, but this is not what’s most effective. You should aim to fill your P2P community with quality members and if that means slower growth, then that is what’s best for the community. High-quality community members tend to be more engaged, in return improving the quality of discussions. And if you’re looking for brand advocates, then these high-quality members are likely to be your best route to pushing positive third-party messages about your P2P business.
An online community is also a great way of engaging with P2P influencers and AltFi advocates. Word of mouth is one of the best forms of promotion, and strong relations with key industry influencers can massively improve your brand awareness. People are more likely to try a new product or platform and potentially invest in it if they see someone they trust promote the benefits. It's not just the big industry names you should build relations with though - everyday users and investors who are active members of your community are likely to be just as useful advocates of your business and products. They're likely to answer queries and offer advice on your behalf, doing some of your job for you – be careful and check the information they're giving out is correct and be sure to correct it when needed.
In conclusion, online communities are a great way of interacting with your investors as they promote relationship building between yourself and the investors, as well as between the investors themselves. They open a two-way dialogue that allows you to offer value to the members whilst learning more about them, in turn helping you improve your offer. It’s a win-win really.
To improve your community even more, take it offline. Invite members, advocates and influencers to events or private meetings. This will prove that you’re genuine and wanting to help develop knowledge and build bonds.
At the end of the day, knowing more about your community will never be a bad thing, so why not start an online community straight away?
For help with developing your online presence, contact us today.
by Neil Edwards, 3 minute read
by Neil Edwards, 4 minute read