Building, engaging and growing an online community helps businesses in the long run. Forming communities of your brand’s most tuned in and engaged fans are what ultimately help to inform products and procedures.

This week at #SproutChat we chatted with Sprout All Star, Meagan DeMenna, Community Manager of ClearVoice, about best practices for managing your online communities and the benefit they provide your brand.

Communities Come Together Around a Topic

Digital communities allow folks to gather around topics or issues they care about and connect. This can happen organically or could be a space created by a business to allow followers to congregate around their brand. Conversations and connections that happen in these online communities instill a real sense of value.

Create Goals First

If you’re just starting to launch a community, think about the platform this will live on (website, forum, Slack, social) and where your community might take to. Additionally, be thoughtful of the purpose of your community. Will it be focused on technical support or advocacy? Mapping out these details ahead of time will and giving members a clearer sense of purpose to start will effectively encourage engagement.

Align Community With Business Goals

When planning your community think about how this will serve the brand overall. If you’re trying to set up a support focused community think of ways this can help deter support tickets and drive down costs associated there. Goals will look different for communities across the board, but think of identifying goals that align with overall business objectives.

Content Is Fuel

When setting up new communities, it’s important to make sure that you’re planning out content with your members in mind. Conversation may already be happening organically, but scheduled content can help encourage further conversation. Small things like this can help make sure that engagement is activated. Remember to have a two way relationship with community members and interact.

Be sure to join us at #SproutChat next Wednesday, at 2 p.m. CT, to chat with Sprout All Star Elite, Marek Cornett of Koch Communications about integrating PR and Social Media strategies. Until then, be sure to join our Facebook community to keep the conversation going.