Creating Effective Online Community Groups

How many online community groups are you a part of? Chances are, more than one – and each has a different purpose too.

Online groups are incredibly useful for building a stronger community – while retaining a customer base.

If you aren’t leveraging this way to add value to your business, you should consider it.

Effective Vs. Ineffective Online Community Groups:

There are three different types of groups that you’ll see online – and only one is effective:

  1. Groups with lots of engagement: tons of interaction, people helping each other out, great group leadership and members really enjoying being a part of that community.
  2. Ones with non-stop pitches: people just want you to buy their stuff.
  3. And those with complainers: this one is self-explanatory.

Remember, the reason groups and online communities exist is to help their members solve a problem. But if you’re not careful, the group itself can become the breeding ground for the problem.

Your community should add value, provide answers to questions and unite people to do research and create a positive impact. Not to whine and complain… because you want your members to want to come and hang out in your space.

So, before you get started, have a clear objective for starting your own group.

An online community exists to help its members solve a problem. But, if you’re not careful, the group itself can become the breeding ground for the problem. Create effective #OnlineGroups! Share on X

Determine Your Objective For Your Online Community:

There are three different kinds of online groups:

  1. A free group where you build an audience of like-minded and interested people.

Similar to email list building or trying to send traffic to your website, an online community is another way to build an audience. It can help your credibility.

In these free groups, you’re looking for potential clients and partners who would be interested in what you have to offer. And, a group provides the space for all of these like-minded individuals to hang out and stay interested.

  1. A group to support a paid program.

These kinds of groups are a supplemental option that allows participants to come together and have a better experience with an existing, paid program. You can also choose to charge extra for members to join this group or leave them as an extra bonus.

For example, I run Thought Readers, the Books & Business Club. This paid program is supplemented with an optional online group component to bring the community together.

  1. A pop-up group with a time-bound purpose.

Pop-up communities are popular for launches, special events, freebies and classes. These groups have a specific set amount of time that they will be active for a very specific reason.

For example, I am running a month-long Thought Readers MasterClass in June 2020. This class is time-bound, and members have a certain window to sign up and be a part of the group.

Once you have decided what your objective is for your community group, you need to ensure that the health of your group is positive and nurturing.

3 Ways To Create A Healthy, Effective Community:

  1. Have a value plan.Creating Online Community Groups, by Lisa Larter

There are a variety of different ways you can add value to your group, but it starts with having a plan. If there is no value, there is no reason to stay in the group. Different types of content will help keep your group engaged. Here are some ideas:

  • Polls
  • Questions
  • Lives
  • Long-form posts
  • Discussion questions

Pay attention to what is working and what isn’t. That means you’ll need to be active and engaged, responding to people and their comments.

  1. Make it easy for members to engage.

Pay attention to what your people respond to and be willing to change up your content. Don’t become so rote and routine that you schedule everything and never visit the community live. Be there on a daily basis. Keep the group alive.

Keep in mind that some content will strike a chord, while others won’t. You can also get creative in presenting your content. For example, ask participants to respond in a GIF when asking a question. While that’s fun, if your question is really heavy or confusing, people won’t engage. Your content needs to be easy to understand and engage with.

  1. Keep pitches to a minimum.

Yes, we all love to buy and support people that add value to our world – but nobody likes to be sold to non-stop. There’s this expression: you can smell a rat… because it stinks.

Don’t sell too soon inside your group. Keep a pulse on your timing. Be mindful of putting your offers out there in the right way – that they add value. For example, this might be a promotion or extra gift, but don’t oversell.

3 Reasons Why Groups Go Rogue:

Now, you may already have a Facebook group or online community on another platform, like LinkedIn, – but it might not be doing so well. If so, here are three reasons and solutions to why groups go rogue.

  1. A lack of leadership.

A group needs a leader. If you are not leading, people left to their own devices will either go dark, go stormy, get quiet or complain.

None of these options are healthy or sustainable. They don’t add value to the community and are ineffective, so show up, moderate and lead.

So, be ruthless about showing up as a leader.

An online group needs a #leader for sustainable, healthy growth. If you are not leading, people left to their own devices will either go dark, go stormy, get quiet or complain. Share on X
  1. Creating Online Community Groups, by Lisa LarterThere are no rules or accountability.

Be ruthless about this too. Set the rules of engagement ahead of time and let people know, upfront, what is and isn’t acceptable.

Then, follow through. Keep group members accountable to the rules. So, have side conversations to give out a warning before you remove people and their posts.

You owe it to your community to have a conversation with them first because sometimes people may just not know. Enforcing the rules is good leadership.

  1. There is no game plan.

Listen, you can’t just start a group on a whim and expect your business to grow. You need to put thought into it before you start. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What does it take to manage a group – and do you have time for that?
  • What does it take to build a community?
  • What does it take to keep people engaged?
  • What does it take to stay engaged and post content daily?

You have to think about these questions because an absence of leadership and the absence of a well thought out plan creates ineffective groups. Take some time to think so you can create an effective group.

A Healthy, Thriving Community Is Key.

Creating a healthy online community takes time. You can always change directions if you notice an unhealthy and ineffective culture. The best way to do this is with a video, not a long post. Here are some tips:

  • Be direct. Let the group know what direction you’re heading.
  • Encourage people to ask questions and offer solutions.
  • Be aspirational. Paint the picture of what you want your community to look like and show up as a leader.

If all else fails, the last resort is to archive the group. Let the community know you’re starting a new group (if that’s what you decide), but make sure you set it up properly so everyone knows what to expect moving forward.

Creating a healthy online community takes time and dedication. Here's how you can get started. Share on X

What about you: do you have an online community? What action step will you take away from this?


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Lisa Larter Bio Image of Lisa x400

Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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