Sometimes You Don't Even Notice It…
It took me several events to notice a dynamic that existed. My friend Jennifer runs several events and I almost didn't catch it. But after participating in two or three, I started realizing that I was seeing some of the same people at each event. The same thing happened when I participated in several of the iThemes Webinars. I started recognizing the names of attendees. What they have in common is that they're building a community around their businesses. One is focused on events and training, the other is a company that sells software products. But both are doing it.
Service Companies Can Do It Too
On Friday afternoons, from their Facebook Group, they gather a bunch of agency owners to chat. The weekly connection allows people to share their highs, lows, and get business questions answered.
What they're all doing is gathering like-minded people, offering a way for people to connect and feel like they're not alone. What they're doing is building a community around their businesses.
Do You Have to Run a FB Group?
You might read about these different companies and think that the thing they are all doing is running a Facebook group. And while Facebook might love that narrative, it's not the truth.
You actually don't need a FB group to build community.
But you need something. Some way to keep people connected.
My son and daughter spent the last 18 months locked up in our house – much like many of you. But they did something I didn't expect.
They built a community of people who liked to play digital games together and ran a Discord server with just under 100 folks.
You know who else has a Discord server for building their community? Bento.
Bento is a tiny little company that is building a serious solution for digital businesses. Think of them as a new, lighter, cheaper version of HubSpot. Kind of.
In other words, there are a lot of ways to help people connect – not just FB Groups.
Three Strategies for Building a Community
So let's get into a couple strategies that can help you as your building a community around your brand.
1. Find places to build connections – When you attend an online event run by Jennifer Bourn, there's always a chat where people can talk. Initially they're all talking to her. But what you notice is that people start talking to each other. And over time, real relationships get built.
I do something similar at CaboPress – where afternoons are freed up so people can connect with each other. The results have been amazing – from hiring to partnerships to new product collaborations.
2. Shine a light on the experts in your community – Everyone needs an expert that can help their business in some way. The truth is that your community likely already has all the experts it needs. The problem is that no one knows who they are. When Brad pulls people together on Friday afternoon Zoom calls, he and Emily (who runs the happy hour discussions) have topics.
They often ask community members to speak on the chosen topic – highlighting who has what expertise. They've had people on that talk about support, contracts, billing, fees, partnering, hosting, and more. Pretty much every topic an agency owner needs. As a result, the rest of the community knows who to talk to.
As members of the group realize how valuable these Friday hangouts are, they attend more regularly. And guess what happens next? They get to know each other and start to feel like a community.
3. Create a hub for your community – I write about WordPress regularly. But I write for companies in the ecosystem. I don't write about WordPress news. But with the use of a powerful RSS Aggregator plugin, I am able to pull articles together from trusted sources and create a hub for WP news.
What if I wanted to create a hub for events (like my Skip the Grind or CaboPress conferences)? That's where calendar plugins like The Events Calendar become core solutions used by hundreds of thousands already.
Whether you're pulling together events or news, building the place where folks in your community can quickly catch up can be a powerful way to establish the community you want to build around your company.