Firms can build online communities with a combination of engaging online content and use of social media and forums. An expert panel on community building at the Social Media World Forum in London this week said building loyalty is the best way to future-proof your brand.
Nick Reynolds, the public accountability executive for BBC Online, said a coherent strategy is as important as budget. “Just because you have a marketing budget to spend, don’t think that’s going to result in a community,” he said. The BBC has different Twitter and Facebook streams for different subject interests, so that a separate community can easily access online content around world affairs or entertainment, for example.
Mark Coatney, director at Tumblr, says that when you are adding a new feature to a website, ask yourself, “Would I do this? Why would I do this?” to avoid pointless expansion.
Owen Pringle, director of digital communications for Amnesty International, said that community building, even online, comes very naturally to people. Amnesty is opening up new digital platforms in Brazil, India and China and the key to success was finding local experts who knew exactly what sort of engagement would be effective. “Don’t presume anything, get specialists on the ground,” he said.