So, what is an online community? To me, your online community is made up of the people you interact with, or intend to interact with, as part of your online strategy. Even if you don’t have an online community in place, it already exists.
Chances are, when you post something on your blog or Facebook page, you get at least 1 or 2 likes or shares, or at least, someone reads it. Even just that little interaction is the beginnings of building a strong online community and digital presence. After all, you have to start somewhere…
So Why Should You Care About It?
Your online community, even if it’s small right now, is part of your sales funnel. They are ALL potential clients, but only if they’re part of your target audience (there’s more on target audience right here).
Keep in mind, most people won’t come to a real estate website and convert right away, meaning, they probably aren’t going to be buying or selling real estate that particular day, but they will, someday, on someone’s website. By establishing, building, and nurturing an online community, you can make sure that when they are ready to convert as a buyer or seller, they do it on your website instead of on one of your competitors.
That’s why it’s important to engage them and keep in touch with the, just like real people (which they are of course!). When they are ready to make a decision, you want to them to think of you, to think of your brand, and to think of your business.
It Sounds Easy Enough, But Why Do It?
Seriously, there are A LOT of benefits to building an online community:
- You’ll met your marketing goals: You get a broader brand exposure, your content is seen by a targeted and responsive audience, you get a wider reach for that content, and you’ll get more direct and referral traffic to your website.
- You’ll connect with a web focused audience: You get to direct your content to a captive online audience that is already online, which involves listening to them and humanizing your online engagement.
- You’ll beat out the competition: When you do it the right way, and focus on your audience and your niche, you have an advantage over your competition, which is probably being quite general with their content. You’ll be building authority!
- You’ll save money: Building an online community is less expensive than traditional marketing efforts, like online advertising; it takes time of course, but it doesn’t need to take much outside of that.
- You’ll build a bigger and better business: When you work on all of the above, and your efforts are targeted and planned, you’ll be building a bigger and better online presence.
So How Do You Start Building an Online Community?
First off, you need to think about the people you want to engage with, which is called your target audience. Once you know who you’re targeting, you can start building a community for them and with them.
The next step is to identify your niche. So, instead of constantly posting content that’s general and about everything, you can post content that your audience actually cares about. For example, do you want to get more sellers? More buyers? More investors? More people interested in the neighbourhood? Whatever your niche, you should be posting content with that niche in mind.
Now that you know what your niche is, you need to start building your authority. Basically, if you’re targeting investors, you want people to think of you, your business, and your website when they think of investing. Building authority is key in building a community of people that trust you.
Where Do You Actually Build it?
- Through your blog: Your blog is the perfect place to write content that is engaging, authentic, and authoritative. Your blog posts should be focused on interaction and engagement, like maybe asking a question to try to get feedback from your audience.
- Through social media: Social media is another great place to start building an audience. But which platforms do you use? For one, choose the platforms you actually like using so that you actually use it. And second, choose the platforms that your target audience is actually using. If you’re engaging investors, Linkedin might be a good place; if you’re engaging a younger audience, Snapchat might be a good place to start. If you’re audience is more visual, maybe Instagram will work for you. The key is to figure out where you’re most likely to engage with your audience so you can build engagement and authority with them.
But No Matter What…
Always be authentic. Always be yourself. And always act like the type of people you want to attract. Remember that nowadays, B2B or B2C doesn’t apply; it’s H2H (human to human). You’re engaging with real people, with real needs, and real wants.