Building an Authentic Creative Community

By: Kollabora Photo by: Justin Hackworth

“Community” seems to be the buzzword on everyone’s lips these days. Whether it’s large companies integrating community platforms into their marketing initiative or bloggers finding new ways to engage their followers - the community surrounding a product or brand is becoming just as much a necessary focal point as the brand itself. 

So, yes - we all know community is important, but you want to make sure you’re building and fostering the right kind of community, which doesn’t happen overnight. It’s easy to say that community is an integral part of your blog or business, it’s quite another to actually make that happen. 

Before you start to develop a community there are a few things you need to think about:

What is your passion?

What do you have to offer and how can you do it in a unique way?

What’s your market?

Who are you competitors? How can you do it better?

Who’s your audience?

Define your ideal “customer”, give them a face and a name. 

Once you’ve decided what kind of community you want to build, then you need to think about how you’ll approach and engage them:

Speak to them:

Incorporate their language and slang but still keep a distinct editorial voice.

BE AUTHENTIC!!

Speak genuinely, embrace the awkward, own up to your mistakes - basically, be a relatable human being.

Lead by Example:

Hold your own work to the highest standards, don’t compromise due to time restrictions, be inspiring!

Engage, engage, engage:

Don’t just passively dictate to your audience, get involved. Ask questions, be open to new ideas, give them ownership and their own voice. 

Reach out, say hi!

Develop relationships with your readers, reach out and start a conversation - ask for feedback. Let them know you value their presence and opinion. 

Make them feel special:

Highlight your most active members, give them rewards, incentives and bragging rights for being a part of your “team”.

Challenge them:

Educate and involve them in the process, create a safe environment for them to share ideas, and be open to learning from them.

Expand to social:

Decide which social platforms make the most sense for you and continue the conversation there. 

Are you selling something?

Create a story around the product and make your audience a part of it. Encourage them to share the ways they use your product. 

Other things to keep in mind on your community building journey:

It takes time! 

Remember that nothing good happens overnight. Be thoughtful about your next steps, track EVERYTHING to see what sticks, be open to changing directions and flow.

Learn from others:

Seek out the people that are doing it right, look outside your own industry for inspiration - how can you adopt and adapt their strategies for your own purposes?

If they succeed, you succeed:

If you create a platform for other to succeed, then ultimately you will succeed as well. If you build it, they will come!

This post was written and sponsored by Kollabora.

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Eden Hensley

Marketing creative, community engagement specialist, technophile, photographer, food and wine enthusiast, and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Road to The Good Life, a lifestyle blog about appreciating and enhancing your life by being grateful for the "haves" instead of lingering on the "wants." There you will find personal stories about my life and family weaved in with real-life, achievable entertaining tips, recipes for hearty home cooked meals, and DIY projects for capturing and sharing memories. I believe the best place to swap stories is over a shared meal, preferably a Thai-meal served family style, and teach an online introduction class to Thai Flavors and host the Family Dinners at The Station supper club in San Francisco.