Answers to the Ultimate List of FAQs on Online Community

November 2019
Resource
FAQs
  • This page contains a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions that web users ask related to an online community and provides crisp answers along with resources.

Online communities (branded communities in this context) are a hot trend since companies are looking to bring their customers and audiences under a single umbrella via a platform that they control to boost engagement, retention, and loyalty. Learn more about this trend from our blog post on why brands are rebuilding their online communities.

With this explosive growth in demand for communities, many frequently asked questions are emerging. This page compiles all those questions and provides answers by keeping everything in one place.

Read on to explore the questions and answers.


Q. What's an online community?

A. An online community is primarily an aggregation of people with a shared purpose who use a dedicated online space to express their thoughts, build networks, collaborate, add value to each other, and connect with the brand (community leader) that binds them together.

Q. Why the online community is important?

A. Online communities can be used by companies primary to acquire new customers, engage with customers, boost retention, provide better support, and ultimately increase loyalty. Loyal customers can be used to tap into the referral network to gain new business.

Online communities can also be used to build niche social networks and can be monetized as a product. An example is the StackOverflow community for developers which generates revenue from the job posting. Another avenue can be displaying ads like Facebook.

Q. What is online community management?

A. Online community management covers all the functions required to strategize, launch, grow, and maintain the community. Community management professionals take care of member onboarding, content creation, moderation, key metrics, and align the goal of community with the larger business objectives.

Q. What is online community software?

A. Online community software is a software product that allows you to create a full-fledged community with basic features such as content posting, content categorization, user profile, networking (two-sided or one-sided), moderation, gamification, notifications, and knowledge discovery.

Q. What is an online community website?

A. An online community website is essentially a community portal where members can register, discover content, post content, search, participate in discussions, network with peers, and get updates on key activities via notification systems.

Q. Why create an online community?

A. Brands create online community primarily for the following reasons:

  • - Produce user-generated content to increase search engine visibility and generate leads
  • - Engage customers with better support, onboarding, knowledge delivery, and communication
  • - Run brand advocacy campaigns by recruiting and mobilizing the super users
  • - Conduct research and generate insights from the community discussions
  • - Promote customer self-service and empower them to add value to each other

Q. How to create an online community?

A. Brands can create an online community via the following options:

  • - Cloud-based or SaaS solutions for hosted community (e.g., Tribe)
  • - An open-source solution for self-hosted community
  • - Develop a community from scratch in case none of the solutions match the requirements

Q. How to grow an online community?

A. Here are the key steps for growing any online community:

  • - Get internal buy-in from the company
  • - Create a document for your requirements (Click here for a free template)
  • - Finalize the software vendor
  • - Build a community management team
  • - Create the blueprint for acquiring members (some popular tactics are about creating viral invitation loops, reaching out to the target audience via email and social media)
  • - Create a plan for onboarding the users
  • - Keep the users engaged with quality content and gamification
  • - Increase retention by using different notification tools and building habit-forming behavior
  • - Leverage the community super users to tap into the referral network and build a team of advocates

Q. Which online community is best?

A. There are millions of online communities spanning across industries, locations, and shared interests. However, in software space, SAP has a great customer community and Sephora, as a retailer has also built a successful community. Apart from that Product Hunt, Indie Hackers, StackOverflow are some of our favorite communities.

Q. What are some online communities with examples?

A. Here are some examples of online communities:

  • Support community → https://support.google.com/assistant/community
  • Customer community →  https://huddle.allforsport.in
  • Niche social network → https://www.producthunt.com
  • Professional community → https://dribbble.com (for designers)
  • Ideation community → https://ideas.lego.com
  • Employee community or internal community → Private communities created by companies for the employees

Q. What are the online Communities of Practice (CoP)?

A. In simple terms, an online community of practice means a community where the members share the same profession or practice the same set of skills. Here are the key elements of CoPs:

  • - Solving problems
  • - Getting information
  • - Co-ordination
  • - Discussions
  • - Knowledge management
  • - Networking

Q. What are the examples of online Communities of Practice?

A. Given below are some examples of Communities of Practice:

  • Marketing professionals → growthhackers.com/posts
  • Programmers → Stack Overflow, Hacker News, DZone, lobste.rs, etc.
  • Banking professionals → bankersonline.com/forum

Q. What is an online community for market research?

A. Market Research Online Community (MROC) are the type of communities that are created for generating insights. They are primarily geared towards delivering qualitative data for research purposes; however, these communities can also allow community owners to gather other forms of data. MROC can be an on-going community where a group of people with a shared interest would continue to interact and discuss so that the data can be exported for further analyses. That said, insights communities can also be ad-hoc in nature.

These insights can be helpful in shaping product strategy, marketing campaign testing, product position, knowledge delivery and more.

Q. What are some ideas or niche for building an online community?

A. Here are some examples of niche social networks or communities for people with a shared passion

  • online community for lonely people
  • online community for writers
  • online community for depression
  • online community for artists
  • online community for students
  • online community for moms
  • online community for mental health
  • online community for teachers
  • online community for developers
  • online community for photographers
  • online community for doctors
  • online community for creatives
  • online community for programmers
  • online community for entrepreneurs
  • online community for lawyers
  • online community for vampires (be careful with this one)
  • online community for women entrepreneurs
  • online community for writers
  • online community for business owners
  • online community for weight loss

Q. How online communities can be used in marketing?

A. In marketing, an online community can primarily add value on the following:

  • - Gain traffic via user-generated content and boost leads
  • - Brand leadership
  • - Build social proof by showcasing success stories
  • - Reduce customer acquisition cost by tapping into the organic growth

Q. What's the difference between the online community and social network?

A. The primary difference is that an online community is built on a platform that the company owns and controls data privacy as well as security. Ideally, businesses must always invest the resources on own platform to build a community since social media platforms are laced with various distractions and can always change the algorithms. As a community owner, a business will not have complete control over data, security, privacy, and key metrics.

Q. What are the online community life stages?

A. Online community life stages can be categorized into the following according to Feverbee (a popular website on community building):

  • - Inception
  • - Establishment
  • - Maturity
  • - Saturation
  • - Mitosis

Learn more here.

Q. What are the key metrics to track in an online community?

A. There are a host of metrics a community manager can measure; however, the following are the important metrics:

  • - Effectiveness of the user-generated content -- the type of content resulting in better engagement
  • - The growth rate of the community in terms of members
  • - Stickiness is the community
  • - The churn rate of the members
  • - Most active member cohort in the community
  • - Active member cohorts changing with time
  • - The retention rate of active users over time
  • - Time to the first answer a question
  • - Number of unanswered questions with time
  • - Member growth
  • - User growth
  • - Time spent on the community
  • - Sentiment analysis
  • - New ideas generated and implemented via community
  • - Customer satisfaction via an online community (primarily support and knowledge delivery)
  • - Revenue boost from the community
  • - News outlets covering the community topics
  • - Links gained by the community

Q. Who is an online community manager?

A. An online community manager is in charge of acquiring members, engaging, retaining, and managing the brand community of a company or the community centered around a cause. The community manager is generally tasked with building stronger peer-to-peer and brand-to-member networks by collaboration, gamification, and different relationship management techniques.

Q. What are online learning communities?

A. These are the specific types of online communities that are built to help the members learn from each other as well as from the community owner. The members leverage the social elements of the community and the additional communication tools to move towards the learning goals.
The goals for the members could either generate from the peer-to-peer discussions or set by the community owner. The community members could be at different stages on the learning curve, so the experienced members share their knowledge with the beginners or members with lesser experience. A great example in this space is the ResearchGATE community that connects researchers and gives access to millions of publications.

Q. What are online community services?

A. Online community services can be anything from completely creating community strategy and executing to handling certain aspects of an online community. For example, community management, community moderation, SEO, and content generation can be outsourced and offered as a service.

Q. What are some online event ideas?

An online community just like a physical/real-world community would have both regular and occasion-specific events. Online events have the unique advantage of being location-agnostic and allow people to join remotely thereby saving both time and money.
Some of the examples are the following:

  • - Live event for learning and AMA
  • - Webinars
  • - Milestone events
  • - Events to track progress
  • - Video streaming for expert interviews


Join top organizations empowering their community using Tribe platform NOW.