How to build a community for your startup (Part I)
In our last article, I explored why communities exist and reasons why founders should be a part of a community. So I thought; if founders belong to, and benefit from communities then how about creating communities for their own startups?
A simple definition of a community is a group of people who share common and similar interests/ goals. So your community member will be anyone who uses your product/service and shares their experiences; influencing others to take action.
There is a clear distinction between an audience and a community. An audience can be passive receivers while a community are active receivers, empowering each member in the circle. As Lenny defines it, you build an audience to help people but communities are built to help people, help each other.
Different startups have reasons for establishing a community around their product. For some at the pre-product stage, communities help them validate their business and offerings. They get direct access to their beta customers; getting feedback from a group of people who have the same interest in the product/ service that they offer.
When thinking of creating a community for your startup, keep in mind that the community objective must be in line with your business objectives. We’ll discuss this deeply in the course of this article.
The following paragraphs will detail why you should consider community building pivotal to the success of your business and how you can create a value-driven, thriving community for your startup.
Why you should build a community;
Founders have a lot to deal with. From finding product-market fit to hiring to raising funding and a plethora of other responsibilities. Building communities might seem too much for you to do in addition to all that is on your table already. In spite of this, think of communities as one of the lifelines of your business and I will explain why. If you are looking for reasons why you should add community building to your long to-do list for your business here’s why-
- Communities help create value for consumers:
It has been said that the greatest benefit you will get from building a community is highly engaged customers/ users. If you build and manage your community right, you create a sense of belonging for every member. This means that members begin to feel like a part of what you’re building and so become strong advocates for your brand. Their experience with your business goes beyond just products and features; they become emotional towards your brand and will help spread the word about your product and also, extend this loyalty they feel for your business to other members who are a part of the community.
- They serve as a support network for businesses:
Creating a community means that you are a step closer to your customers. This provides an avenue for your customers to share, interact, communicate and even, help each other; helping you learn more about who they are, how you can serve them better etc. This insight can be very valuable for your business. It can help you improve your product/ offering to meet the core needs of your customers.
Additionally, communities can serve as a feedback loop for your business. You get to directly hear from customers, about their perception of your brand and the value of your product. At the early product stage, communities can help you validate your idea, product and services. You also get reports on your offering and this can help you achieve product-market fit easily. Furthermore, you can also obtain testimonials (video & written testimonials) for different purposes (for your website, etc), from your community.
- Communities help you improve customer experience:
Your customers are the bane of your business- without them, your business will not exist. And so, your aim will be to improve their experience ensuring that they get maximum value, help and support from your business. You can create a community for customers to get immediate support; reducing your response time and churn rate which may happen because of a long response time. They get access to other people who are using your product and who can, in turn, help them get answers to issues they might be facing at the moment.
- They serve as a profit channel:
A group of satisfied, happy, loyal and close knit customers will likely keep using your services. If you can make your customers happy and satisfied with your offering through a community (which meets their needs), you can be sure that they will keep buying from you and bring others to buy too.
Now that I have explored the reasons why communities are pivotal to the success of your business, I will explain in depth, how you can build your community from the ground up in the next article.