The internet can be an excellent platform for finding people with common interests, both globally and locally. Forums, blogs, Facebook pages, meet up groups, and comment sections can all be an outlet for people to interact with other individuals who have mutual interests. The online health and fitness community is enormous and most people can always find others who want to share thoughts and discuss ideas with other likeminded individuals.
Membership-based businesses like yoga studios, dance studios, gyms, and parks and recreation facilities can benefit greatly from tapping into their respective communities. From getting ideas on how to innovate your recreation facility to new tips on proper training, these communities can act as a source of information and extended learning. They can also be an excellent opportunity for raising your brand’s visibility; helping more people find you. Here’s how to grow member involvement, through engagement in online communities.
Search for Others
Looking on various social networks, blogs and forums for people who are interested in what you teach or train can help you find online communities you should be a part of. Facebook and Reddit are great starting points for finding online communities and you’ll probably find other sources that you’re interested in. Many platforms are more tailored towards different audience and may have more effective ways of reaching the audience you want to engage with. Prioritize these, instead of trying to be everywhere at once.
We are social beings by nature and finding people who can help and support each other in the same industry or interest is going to be appealing.
Be Authentic and Genuine
Being part of an online community is a give and take relationship. The community won’t thrive without people contributing to it. When you do contribute, whether it’s a link, blog or tips, make sure it’s genuine. People can see through inauthentic posts, especially if you’re doing it just for SEO or to openly promote your brand and solely drive sales. Take a second to add your input to other people’s posts that aim to solely help them and not for the purpose of showing off your business or to fulfill some other ulterior motive.
This level of outreach and engagement shows genuine interest in the people in your community. By doing so, you show your organization’s commitment to their betterment, instead of treating them like another number in a spreadsheet.
Don’t Try to Sell
If you try to sell your product or services, especially when you’re new to the community, you may face backlash. Whether it’s people calling you out or looking at you as a salesman and not a community member, selling is usually frowned upon. The exception is for a marketplace type community where people buy and sell or promote their services. Selling can also be okay, if someone asks the community for a recommendation and your organization is what they’re looking for. However, outside of those exceptions, you should exercise care when trying to promote your brand.
In your own online communities, remember that the platforms are traditionally used as top of funnel and middle of funnel sales potential. This means that potential clients are at the beginning of their customer or member journey, when they are interacting with the content you share here. This should be where you share content that resonates with your company and those you wish to become members, while periodically using simple sales messaging.
Contribute Value and You will Receive It
What is the best way to attract new students through online communities? Give value. Think about what you can share with members of that community that they’ll get value from. Maybe it’s an article on the timing of stretching for runners or a new type of circuit training that may interest members. If you keep giving to your community without explicitly trying to sell your service, you’ll gain a positive reputation and have the support of a lot of the members you’ve been helping. This, in turn, will help you attract more students via referrals and increased online visibility.
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