Much like real-life communities, online communities are avenues where like-minded people who share a common love for a brand, product, food, practice, culture, or event can interact. These communities can have members ranging from a group of 10 people to as many as thousands of users all over the world, depending on what they’re trying to cultivate.
Of course, each online community is different mainly because of its purpose. If your purpose for establishing an online community is just to find people who share a common love for gardening or growing produce, then you can benefit from using a free platform such as those on social networks.
However, if you want to have more control over your members and have the ability to curate your content according to a specific brand, then you’ll be better off with your own community platform. Both types have their own strengths and weaknesses, but if you’re not sure what to look for, here are four factors that you should consider:
The fact that online communities are on the Internet is already a huge advantage in terms of accessibility. More people can see and interact with the community since it’s so easy. Additionally, it’s more practical to use online community platforms because people are online 24/7.
But accessibility can also be a double-edged sword because just as you can reach thousands of people at the same time, there’s a possibility that other brands and companies have a similar idea. This could make it harder to establish a meaningful relationship with your audience because your methods don’t leave much of an impact.
However, the good thing about this is that nothing is ever set in stone. If you can package your online community as something that your audience needs and can benefit from rather than just being nice-to-have, then you can make a bigger mark. And you can do this by ensuring that your platform has a video player for mobile devices, especially since videos are more heartwarming than plain texts.
If your sole purpose for creating an online community is to share a common love for a show or a hobby, you might not need to consider the monetization factor. However, if you’re going to promote a brand or a product in the future, you’ll need to find a platform that will allow this.
Of course, monetization won’t be a big deal if you’re not hoping to earn an extra source of income from your memberships and branded content, but it could also be practical to look into it in the long run. That’s why it’s important to identify your purpose and goals before you start looking for a community platform.
Ease of Use
Users won’t become fond of an online community platform or a mobile app that’s too difficult to understand. They’ll prefer something that doesn’t take too much time or effort to learn, which could be a huge advantage if you target people of all ages. Plus, it would also be easier on your part to manage a platform with a simple layout and user interface.
That’s why you have to consider the ease of use of the online community platform you’re planning to go with. If you can’t navigate the pages smoothly, use the buttons like they were designed to, or communicate with other people in the platform, then you shouldn’t expect your users to be able to.
Since almost everything online can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection, it makes it too easy for cybercriminals to hack into private networks and steal information. This is a potential risk factor that your future users may be wary of, leading them to distrust your platform.
But that’s also why you’re taking the time to choose the right community platform. You can’t just go with the first option you see; you have to weigh your options carefully and consider all the factors that may affect the user experience. This way, your future members can rest assured that their privacy and safety are being prioritised all the time.
Being an online community manager can be a handful at first, especially if you’re still figuring out how to maximize the potential of your platform. But over time, the task will gradually be easier because as you get past the learning curve, your members will have to. So, you won’t have to feel like you’re constantly keeping an eye on everyone.
This also means that you can spend less time focusing on helping each other navigate the software and more time doing what you came here to do: to create a safe place for like-minded individuals who share similar passions on the Internet.