Building online communities is a great way to connect and engage people, but they’re hard to build and grow successfully, says Steve Ressler, founder of GovLoop.com, who recently spoke at the What’s Next: DC conference.
GovLoop is similar to Facebook in that it’s a social-networking site. But instead of trying to copy what Facebook did, GovLoop created its own niche: The site aims to connect people within the government community. Since its founding in 2008, the network has grown to more than 30,000 members. This high level of interactivity and engagement is a huge opportunity for businesses looking to connect to people online.
Not only are online communities a means to unite people around a common interest, but it’s a way for businesses to get customer feedback and for marketers to easily get their message across. Why do people use online communities in the first place? Ressler points out:
- People need to belong. They want to connect with people who are like them and feel like others care about them.
- People need to share. Stories and experiences are meant to be shared, and people want a way to do so.
- People need to be entertained. Online socializing didn’t get popular because it was a homework assignment.
In the end, online communities are a great way to foster enthusiastic advocates of your own brand. Once you realize why people look to online communities, it becomes pretty easy to approach your own customers in the same fashion. Give them a reason to belong, to share and to be entertained, and you’ll find your brand will become indispensable to others.