Customers,Want,You,Build,Commu DIY Customers Want You To Build A Community Online Here'
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Ever wonder why magazines and newspapers always feature lettersto the editor? Have you noticed most radio stations air phonecalls from listeners? And what about those person-on-the-street interviews that TV news programs like to feature?These are the ways smart media organizations create the communitytheir customers crave. Here's how it works.People are social creatures. Few of us like being alone forlong. We prefer to work and learn in groups. We like to knowthere are plenty of other people who are a lot like us, peoplewho are doing the same things we are.When companies create a community of like-minded customers forpeople to be a part of, lots of people respond. This can beparticularly important if your goal is to keep new prospectsinterested and current customers coming back. Creating your owncommunity is critically important during slow economic times whenevery customer counts.Here are five cheap and easy ways you can create your own onlinecommunity right away!1. Start your own discussion board. A few years ago, you had tobe a computer programmer to do this, but today anyone can createtheir own online discussion. The one we have at InternetWriterscomes free from bravenet.com. You can personalize the look ofyour board as well as put your logo at the top. This makes thediscussion look like a regular part of your web site.Expect the discussion to start off slow. Line up several expertsto launch conversations and provide follow-up answers. These canbe experts outside your company, but it is usually more reliableto have experts from inside your organization. Using your in-house experts can help emphasize how your staff has the abilityand desire to solve problems for customers. If you want tocreate the image of expertise, your discussion board is a greatway to do it.2. Create a simple question and answer page. This can be evensimpler than the discussion board. When a customer calls oremails you a question, include the question and your answer on aweb page. Success won't depend on customers sending questionsfrequently. The answer page on DrNunley.com has been buildingslowly for years. Today you can browse page after page foranswers to hundreds of questions.Prospects and customers often ask similar questions. Your Q&Apage not only gives people the answers they may be looking for,but it lets them know they aren't alone. Others have the sameneeds and questions they do.3. Schedule online events. These can be online chats orstreaming audio broadcasts. There are a number of services thatprovide free chat rooms. Live365.com will let you do free audiostreaming.The event can be a guest expert answering questions, an interviewwith a popular author, or even a meeting of your distributors orfranchisees. Be sure to announce your online event well ahead oftime. Give it plenty of promotion. Mention it often in yournewsletter, on your site, even in your advertising.4. Start an email discussion. Email is by far the most popularfeature of the Internet. Some experts believe the big increasein people using the Net has been caused by the massive number ofpeople who use email several times each day.You can harness the power of email to build your onlinecommunity. An email discussion is simply a system that sharesemail messages between everyone in the group. Messages can flowfreely or be edited, approved, or rejected by a moderator in yourorganization.It only takes a few minutes to get your email discussion going.Yahoo Groups and Topica.com provide excellent and reliable freeservice.5. This final idea is extremely simple, but very powerful. Postgood comments from customers. Customers often aren't sure whatkind of results to expect from your product or service.Expectations of "good results" can vary widely.By posting customer success stories, you can help other customersunderstand what to expect and what is possible. This goes along way toward building customer confidence and betterunderstanding of your product or service.Online community is becoming more and more important as the Webmatures. People increasingly get online to check with a fewcommunities they belong to. Make sure you have a communityavailable for your customers and prospects. Article Tags: Discussion Board, Email Discussion