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How to Build an Online Community

Your online community can be your brand advocates, who can defend you in bad times and empower you during good times. Here's how to build your community.

How to Build an Online Community | Search Engine Journal

In the digital marketing world, more and more brands are now geared towards building a community. A community is a group of people engaging, sharing, and working toward a common goal. They are bound by similar interests, or thoughts. Brands like Disney and Red Bull have embraced this marketing initiative. Erica McGillivray, former senior community manager at Moz, talked about nurturing and growing a community in this recent Marketing Nerds episode.

Listen to how she discussed the benefits of building a strong community around your brand, how they rolled out this strategy at Moz:

Moz has successfully built its community through live events. At SEJ, we’ve also seen the importance of meeting our community through SEJ Summit, our conference series specifically designed for search marketers held year-round across the United States.

The members of a brand’s community may not necessarily be product consumers. They may be a group of individuals who share a common belief, or who are followers of your brand.  These followers may become your biggest brand advocates, who can defend you in bad times, and empower your brand even more during good times.

Here are a few tips on how to build your own community.

Target Emotions

One of the biggest advantages of building a community is allowing people to follow your brand, and they do this voluntarily. They weren’t forced, they deliberately decided to follow you. And once they do, they either love your brand or they’re upset. If they love your brand, then they’re your biggest brand ambassadors who will champion your causes. If they’re upset about your brand, welcome their insights, and hear them vent or rant about your brand. For sure, they’ll make it known in your community and will elicit good engagement between those who love you—and those who hate you. Good engagement will help your community grow.

Educate Your Followers

One good strategy to further build your community is to not talk about your brand. Instead, educate your followers about their need for your product, without even mentioning your brand.

Procter & Gamble has a campaign called “Everyday” which offers insights and tips to the different members of their communities.

How to Build an Online Community | SEJ

The My Black is Beautiful community celebrates the collective beauty of black women. It provides fellowship amongst the members, plus it gives tips and provides education to its members.

How to Build an Online Community | SEJ

Hear Them Out

Take advantage of the dialogue amongst the members of your community. Hear out their feedback, and make sure that you take action from their suggestions. Starbucks has successfully leveraged its community insights to come up with product ideas, experience ideas, merchandise materials, and community ideas in its My Starbucks Idea campaign.

How to Build an Online Community | SEJ

In Conclusion

Build a dynamic community by welcoming your followers—both the good, and the not so good ones. Allow room for engagement and discussion, so you can learn from them. Educate them so they can also learn from you. Foster growth by helping them connect with others, so they can learn from each other as well.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Rawpixel/
All screenshots by Meg Cabrera. Taken August 2016. 

Meg Cabrera Sales Operations Analyst at Search Engine Journal

Meg is part of SEJ’s team based in Manila, Philippines. She is responsible for managing sales operations, order fulfillment, and ...

How to Build an Online Community

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