What is a Community?
There are quite a few definitions of what a ‘community’ is, be it biological, ecological, or sociological. Zachary P. Neal, Associate Professor at MSU, says that most definitions involve a few basic claims.
“First, a community is a group of people who interact with one another, for example, as friends or neighbors. Second, this interaction is typically viewed as occurring within a bounded geographic territory, such as a neighborhood or city. Third, the community’s members often share common values, beliefs, or behaviors.”
I’ve recently written about why a Customer Community is so important for a growing business. What I’ve mentioned there also covers these claims. A group of people that have come together, with the internet as their common virtual location, discussing a common topic that is your brand.
I also gave a few tips on how to set up a Customer Community. One of those tips was choosing the right platform for you and your business. This is a very important step since you need to be able to have a platform big enough to host discussions with your entire audience base and Community.
In this article, I’m going to tell you about a few Community apps that are super easy to use and will definitely help you in your journey to success.
This app is really cool because it has ‘Rooms’ that you can access from ‘Hallways’. These rooms are basically clubs that can host shows, discussions, and lots of other things. Once you’ve set up your profile, you can create a club, build the profile and purpose of the club, invite members to join, assign admin, a moderator, or speaker roles, and set an agenda. Once you have people join in, you can have discussions or seminars.
You can have focus groups coming in and answering a bunch of questions. You can set rules and roles in such a way that your moderators or admins can mute someone if they’re speaking out of turn or acting against community guidelines. The image here has some basic tips for creating a community on Clubhouse.
Slack is a pretty famous app meant for internal company use. But you can also use it to build a community where you can have different channels dedicated to different topics and can also keep a few channels private. It is very easy to have discussions and switch between channels to stay up to date on what’s going on. Members can also start up threads on messages if they feel like they have more to say about a particular opinion.
You can also have private one-on-one conversations or huddles with other users. Huddles are basically calling through the slack app, but you can have up to 50 participants. So if you think that your discussion isn’t really going anywhere over text on a slack channel, you can always invite them to a huddle.
Discourse is an open-source discussion platform. Although the version where you join any discussion, see people’s views and opinions, and post your own is free, if you want to start and manage your conversations, they have the Standard, Business, and Enterprise plans. You can start a topic under a category and have unlimited users viewing and weighing in their thoughts and opinions. If you have the Standard plan, you can have up to 5 staff users. Staff users are basically moderators or admins that have basic authoritative roles. Some of the things that an admin can do access all content on the site, change site settings, and basically everything a moderator can do. A moderator is immune to rate limits and can delete or hide topics. They can also suspend or delete members.
Discord is another forum app where you can bring people together to form a community and have casual conversations or discussions with members. You can create an invite-only place to protect your data and trade secrets. The servers here are organized into topic-based channels where you can collaborate, share, and just talk about your business. Discord also has a voice and video communication service. If you’re online in a voice channel, friends or other community members on your server can see you’re around and instantly pop in to talk without having to call.
Of course, like other forums and open discussion platforms, Discord also gives you the ability to assign moderator roles in a channel and give them basic responsibilities. Users with these roles can moderate or ban messages or even invite or ban people from a channel.
Telegram is a cloud-based messaging app that works on mobiles or desktops. The cool thing about this app is the groups. Telegram groups can have up to 200,000 members which is super helpful for growing businesses. They have a ton of cool features too like unified history, where you can edit or delete your message and it will disappear or change for everyone in the group.
The app also has smart notifications where you can alter your notification setting to alert you only if someone has mentioned you. Or filter your search for messages by the user to make it easier. You can set group permissions and moderators to invite or delete members or pin important conversations. They have a wide range of emojis, gifs, and stickers too!
6. Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are my favorite platform to host a community for your business or brand. Since most everyone has or has had a Facebook account at least once in their lives, it’s the easiest platform to navigate through. Setting up a Facebook is fairly easy and you can get it up and running pretty quickly. Adding and inviting members to join might take a while but as the group or community grows there, you’ll have a wider reach. More and more people will request to join your group if you post-consumer engaging content. In Facebook groups as well, you can assign admins and moderators and give them privileges to delete or hide posts and comments or delete and invite members to the group.
You can create events or even host a live audio room and have verbal discussions or conversations.
I’d strongly recommend that you try these apps first to set up your Customer Community. It isn’t necessary that the first one you pick is going to be the best for you. While all these apps are great and even though there are so many more, trying and eliminating apps will help you learn what you need from an app and also what you don’t need. Choosing the right app will ensure that you have a strong, active, and loyal community. The best way is to take your time with each and understand how it’s helping your business grow while making your life easier. What are you waiting for!? Go for it!
Have you tried any Community Apps? Let me know in the comments!