community: the people living in one particular area or people who are considered as a unit because of their common interests, social group, or nationality.
How exactly do you build an online community? What does it even mean?
It’s not just about traffic, about having a large number of followers, but also about engagement.
Also, it’s about the following things:
- Freedom of discussion – Offer folks the opportunity to interact with one another, to bounce ideas off from one another, to argue, to disagree with one another (and you)
- Be human – Bloggers should create their own voice and style – the more you inject your own personality into a blog the better it tends to go over with readers.
- Give people something they can be proud of – offer readers/commenters a space to be creative with. Like a cool party that everyone wants to be invited to.
- Decision making – If you are a self-published author, ask your readers to vote for the version of your cover they like best, or create a poll to decide your next topic. Or maybe even select new categories for your blog, or a new theme.
- Guidelines not rules – Rules can get you into real trouble. Readers usually take their lead from the blogger – the tone that you blog in is generally picked up by others, and if it’s not, you’ll find that your regular readers will often step in to situations and police them for you.
The truth is that building an online community requires time, effort, patience. It requires your ability to empathize with your target audience, to be able to admit more than one view of things, and to think in terms of depth, rather than width — to be able to build strong relationships rather than focus on numbers.
What do you think are the secret ingredients to building an online community?