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How to Build an Online Community

Jun 28, 2008
When learning how to build an online community, it is essential to first know your target audience. You will want to have an idea who you want to frequent your community because this will help you determine how to get those people to your website.

An online community is only as good as the ways they are able to interact. The next question to ask yourself on how to build an online community is how do you want to disseminate information? You can choose to have forums where participants can come and chat with each other. You can have bulletin boards where people post new threads and reply to what others have to say. Do you want to create a large resources section so that your community can find more information that they are looking for? Do you want to create a mailing list where you send out more information on a particular topic?

Deciding upon how to interact with your online community must support the ways in which they want to interact. This can be observed by visiting other forums your target audience visits and seeing how they interact with each other. You can also create a survey on a website you have to see what your target audience wants and then offer a prize such as a free e-book in return for the input. This can be very valuable.

Can you run the online community yourself? You need to determine what type of resources it will take to build the online community you want. You may want to see if you can partner with a company who will offer you discounted services for the opportunity to put their name in front of your client base. You may even want to decide to use your own networking software or to look at the networking software of companies like it was previously mentioned in this paragraph.

You then need to look at which networking company to work with. This is important because they will host your online community. You want a company which has good technical support at all hours of the day in case of emergencies. If you have a company which does not work on the weekend, think about the damage to your client base if you do not have a web site running for an entire weekend.

After setting up your online community, it is then essential to market your web site. How will anyone know to visit your web site if you do not help them see the benefits of using what you have to offer. No one will change their online habits to help you but rather because they see the benefit to them. You have to find and communicate that one true advantage which shows you have what they are looking for and that sets you apart from your competition.

This should give you a good starting point on how to build your online community. There are more details but much of it comes down to understanding what your target audience wants and giving it to them.
About the Author
Ron Subs works with Mega Star Media Inc. as a public relations consultant, more information about Mega Star Media Inc. can be found at http://www.megastarmedia.com
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