Building Online Communities Fuel Marketing Campaigns

Companies generally turn to social media when they want to engage in conversations with customers, but developing online communities on the company’s website can be more effective in generating content and creating brand advocates.

Once companies set up the right forums and give fans the tools to talk with one another, there won’t be a shortage of editorial content, says Content Marketing Institute’s Michael Silverman.

“Let the audience generate content for you,” he writes.

Online communities “represent a common ground that can spark targeted, valuable conversations,” says Silverman.

Unlike social media, such communities focus on specific topics and demographics. He suggests setting up forums on the company’s website and connecting with influential and knowledgeable customers to get the conversations flowing.

Founder of Parature Duke Chung says that these informed customers will become brand advocates if the company acknowledges and thanks them for answering other customers’ inquiries.

A forum that Silverman points out, Symantec Connect, has generated over 850,000 content pieces created by brand advocates, as well material from customers who log onto the site to ask questions.

If customers aren’t making the content themselves, marketers can turn to the forums for inspiration. For example, Business 2 Community’s Joe Pulizzi highlighted a brand that found content within the back and forth customer service emails between representatives and consumers.

Fostering online communities can make content marketing easier and improve the relationship between customers and companies.

Image courtesy of Spectral-Design/shutterstock

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