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    6 Pointers for Women Business Leaders on Maintaining your Online Community

    When building an online community, it is vitally important that, as a women business leader and owner, you ensure your efforts align with you business’s basic brand tenets. If you understand and listen to your audience, you have a marvelous opportunity to engage them while building your customer base.

    Here are some pointers I’ve summarized from an excellent article by Stephanie Gehman titled, “6 Tips for Starting an Online Community.”

    1. Know your audience
      This is the No. 1 thing you need to know before setting out to create an online community. Categorizing your audience demographics, says Stephanie, “will give shape and definition to your audience and clarify who they are, what they do, their habits and more.”
    2. Know their needs
      According to Stephanie, the best way to find out is by asking questions. It’s not a one-time event, however, because as customers change, tastes change, desires change and needs change. Asking also helps you determine what things to keep an eye on or monitor as your community matures and expands. Keeping on top of the trends and issues also helps your business work proactively rather than in a reactive way.
    3. Know your business
      As women business leaders and entrepreneurs, we know all about our own businesses, but have we conveyed that insight to our staff and team? If your team is not clear on your business plans, goals and vision, says Stephanie, how can they communicate that with your customers and the community?
    4. Know your stuff
      As a business owner, says Stephanie,  “you can build trust by using your knowledge base to answer questions, listen to client feedback, troubleshoot issues … and fix the problems they have with your product or service.” The key, however, is to know what you are talking about, and if you don’t have the answer, say so. Transparency is critical to maintaining your community’s trust.
    5. Know your limitations
      According to Stephanie, don’t get caught up in trying to “manage” your community. You’ll find that to maintain trust, you will need to let your community grow and expand on its own, without micromanagement from you or your team. Be responsive, yes, but let the community know you respect its opinions and comments.
    6. Know how to appreciate
      Your community is a living, breathing thing and it appreciates being rewarded. Treat your community to special perks or rewards to keep them coming back. Offer prizes, coupons, percent-off codes and insider knowledge in addition to the basic but critically important … “thank you!” You want to encourage your community to toot your horn a little, and rewards are a good way to promote repeat visits.

    Fostering your online community requires dedication and constant attention. One piece of negative feedback that goes without a prompt and courteous reply is noticed and can escalate before you know it. And that can really damage your brand and your company’s reputation. Here are a few of my favorite blogs on maintaining your brand: “Three Ways Women Business Leaders Can Create Brand Superfans,” and “Six Ways Women Business Leaders Can Protect Their Personal Brand.”

    2 Responses to “6 Pointers for Women Business Leaders on Maintaining your Online Community”

    1. [...] entrepreneurs, I have offered some targeted advice on social media. Here are a few of my favorites: “6 pointers for Women Business Leaders on Maintaining your Online Community,” and “Social Media Marketing Means More than Just [...]

    2. Stephanie Gehman says:

      Thank you for sharing my article, Roxanne. I am glad you found its principles timeless for your audience.

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