If you are looking to build meaningful relationships and connections amongst a group of people, a virtual community could be what you are looking for. Virtual communities are typically centered around a topic people are excited and passionate about. They can range from very broad subjects like “health” to micro, niche communities like “people who love romance novels”.
What is the purpose of your virtual community?
When building a virtual community, have a clear vision of WHY you are connecting these people together. To build a healthy virtual community that members frequently return to, there needs to be interaction, contribution, and participation on the part of your community members.
Kate talks about her two niche virtual communities inside Convene
Your virtual community members want to be seen, heard, and feel validated.
Having several ways for people to interact, share and communicate is key to a growing community. As the community leader, you are planting the seeds that help grow the community, but your members will ultimately provide most of the content.
Why will members keep coming back?
- Networking opportunities
- Valuable content
- Opportunities for discussions
- Feeling of belonging
- Building connections with others
- Feeling like they are a part of something bigger
- Learning from peers
Your biggest fans will help your community grow as they invite friends to join in the discussions.
The way we are using the word “community” is to refer to meaningful connections made between individuals or groups that create affinity. These communities might be temporary, or they might be lasting.” – Brown University, Virtual Community Building
Types of Virtual Communities
Niche Virtual Community
Many virtual communities focus on a niche hobby or passion. You are building the go-to space for news and resources around your topic.
What kind of information are your members looking for in this type of community?
- Helpful resources
- Opportunities for engagement
- Members can share their experience with others
- Guest speakers – have experts interviewed to share their talents/insight
- Networking opportunities
- Content creation
- Archive online event recordings or weekly chats
- Enable collaboration not limited by location
If you are a brand that is looking to build loyalty while engaging with your customers, build a community about your members. Rather than building the community around your brand, focus it on a topic related to your brand. Choose something that your customers feel strongly about and provide resources they will find helpful.
- Offer specials for community members
- Unique content only in the community
- Place for fans of your brand to discuss topics of interest to them
- This is an opportunity to learn more about your target market
An example of building a brand community without it being about the brand:
Say your company sells healthy snacks targeting people who do outdoor adventure sports. Building an outdoor adventure sports community would offer your target market a place to discuss hiking, mountain climbing, cross country running, cycling, etc. Grow it into “the place” to learn and share with others that have a passion for adventure.
Corporate Community (Private)
How do you promote a team mindset when all your employees work virtually? Creating a virtual community for your remote staff to share and collaborate could be what your company is looking for.
- A place to collaborate on projects
- Offer staff training
- Opportunities for your employees to get to know each other
Paid Content Community
Build a community around your paid content. You can offer an area that is accessible to everyone to build trust and authority in your specialty while offering the optional paid content or courses.
- Growing relationships in your online courses
- Building trust
- Establishing yourself as an expert in your field
- Free content that builds into paid courses
Communication and Connection are Key
The communication element is key to building a successful, active virtual community. That means regularly
replying to comments on a message boards to keep that two-way conversation going. Being consistent in adding fresh content will also help encourage your members to return on a regular basis.
Convene inside the Convene platform
Convening people is what we do! It is part of our name!
The Convene platform is designed to give you a place to connect, collaborate, train, and communicate all in one place. You can have a public group and sell access to your special content in a paid group. Convene gives you the options and flexibility to create the virtual community to fit your specific needs.
We encourage you to check out Convene by creating a free account, joining a few communities, and experiencing the platform as a user. Check out our Getting Started on Convene information.