Julia
~
13 min
· Posted on
October 23, 2020

Building an Online Community in 2020

The world is currently a global village. According to Statista, almost 4.57 billion people were active internet users as of July 2020, a significant 59% of the world’s population [1].

Nearly 23 million Americans are very active in online communities [2]. The world of business and academics is constantly evolving. Online communities are fast gaining popularity.

Whether they exist for a company’s customers or simply a group of people with common interests, these virtual communities have come to stay.

Interaction within these communities is mostly via but not limited to the web. While they are all the rage at the moment, are they worth the hype?

Yes! You can create an online community for just about anything - from businesses, creative writing, baking, crocheting, etc. Web communities mitigate barriers of distance, language, and social class. They bring different cultures together based on common interests.

These online communities are a great way to share knowledge, showcase your content creation abilities, make a significant income, and bring people of similar interests together.

build an online community basics by gurucan

The basics of membership to build an online community

Adoption of the online community as a business model can be quite financially rewarding. Most online communities use subscription-membership to make money. We spend more on memberships than we actually realize.

As in many other lines of business especially with online courses, creators aim to make an income from their creation, subscription-membership is an excellent means of achieving this.

What comes before Netflix and chill? A subscription, of course!

A subscription gives your customers access to what you have to offer on your platform.

The word is not only digital now but also fast-paced. You would agree that most people want easy-to-access and regular content from different spheres.  You may think of it in the same light as belonging to a restricted access club for the elite with all the benefits available therein.

Most platforms operate a monthly subscription system which makes an easy, sustainable income source for the creators. It is in many ways better than offering one-off services.

Pro tip? As it relates to costing and benefits, there are usually two ends of the pole with the safe middle ground in between.

This ‘ground’ is the most fertile. Don't forget to till and present it nicely. Most people will be looking to pick an affordable option.

It allows the optimal use of whatever content you have. Old content may be retouched and updated. You can always create new content from old videos.

Of course, using this business model has its pros and cons. This involves both the creators and the members.

build an online community pros/cons

Pros to build an online community

Ease of access

This is especially true for app-based communities. Easy access is always preferred. This helps to expand your customer base with a reputation for easy access.

Ease of renewals

Most communities allow automatic renewals that pave way for round the clock access and regular, automated billing. For creators, this ensures a relatively steady influx of profit.

Beneficial interactions

Being a gathering of people with shared interests, interactions are easy and of mutual benefits. Interactions flourish both online and offline with first-hand information for personal gain! All at a glance!

A sense of belonging

Online communities create a medium for close interaction between creators and users or consumers. This sense of belonging is especially important for online customer communities.

Regular content

With subscription-membership, regular content is assured [3].

Cons to build an online community

The tendency to form cliques and subgroups

As with physical human interactions, there is a tendency to form smaller groups or sects composed of those with even more common interests. While this may not be entirely bad, it may lead to segregation or discrimination within the group. These subgroups may either make or mar the success of the online community.

May be pricey

Running an online community may cost a significant amount of money especially for app and website development, paid moderators, web managers, ads, promotions, and statistical analysis.

Requires technical know-how

Running an online community requires some level of technical know-how. The creator may not possess some of the skills required. This is why an app like Gurucan should be considered as an option to support new online community infrastructure.

Requires regular updates

Building an online community requires a significant amount of time and dedication, especially at the beginning. You will need to have a pool of interesting, regular content, and keep up with it, which can be quite a hassle. It obviously requires a high level of commitment and devotion.

What you need to build an online community

Once you were stuck with an idea and made the important decision to create an online community, you may have also decided to adopt the subscription-membership model.

That’s fine, and creating and launching is a whole other ball game. The little details can be daunting.

You will be needing a few things to make the start-up easier. These essentials are the basics for building a loyal, consistent, and engaged online community.

A membership website and online application

This is a vital part of the process that requires careful selection. {See later part of the article, Apps over websites for more insight}. Easy, fuss-free onboarding is essential for your customers. This should be paired with an unending influx of support and guidance from the admin team.

An easy interface

This actually translates to a rewarding user experience both of which act in synergy to keep users coming back for more…much like chocolate and coffee. Take your focus away from only aesthetics. Your platform should be easy to use and practical, even for the-not-so tech-savvy.

A range of plans to cater to a variety of customers

Most creators swear by the 3-level pricing with the middle as the most patronized. Look for a platform that caters to the analytics, statistics, and technical intricacies of a paid online community.

Different avenues for payment

These days, most transactions and payments are made using online payment processers like Apple Pay and PayPal. Make sure these options are available to community members.

Means of notifications and updates

These could be e-mails, texts, or in-app notifications. Also, an integration tool is required to keep your information as compact and easily utilized as possible [4].

Best way to launch digital courses

Desktop or Mobile apps? Now that’s the million-dollar question. We firmly advocate for the use of mobile apps over desktops. While the latter provides a pretty solid frame for online courses, it just isn’t as convenient as the mobile apps.

M-learning is the future, and nothing supports that more than mobile apps. It also allows for more personalization including the provision of offline content [5].

While platforms such as Gurucan can help you build great mobile apps, the inevitable tech headaches can be minimized by using white label mobile apps. These are created by an external team but rebranded with the signature of the business it is created for [6].

Applications over websites

According to Growth Quarters digital trends 2020, the average internet user now spends 6 hours and 43 minutes online each day [7].

You can harness this information to sell your product/service/content.

Here’s how to build an online community

Be clear and specific

Be very clear on what the common interests are. Communities exist for specific issues while still catering to different cadres of users. Create content based on these interests and get them ready for launch.

Choose a hosting platform - a website or an application.

Sort out all the technical details regarding onboarding, in-app and offline notification, subscription plans, and payment methods. Choosing Gurucan is a great idea!

Select a target audience

Be sure to have an adequate number of followers before releasing content. Tactically upload content when you have an adequate following.

Employ or recruit support staff who will act as moderators

Have a set of rules guiding conduct in the communities. This is key. With virtual communities, cases of hate speech and cyberbullying may arise. It is important to implement a zero-tolerance policy to create a safe and beneficial space for users.

Set up the online community

Alok Chowdhury suggests that a soft launch should be done in two phases before the public launch. For this, use a selected crowd available to you. Family and friends are invaluable for an internal soft launch to get the first wave of members and create positive word of mouth [8].

Do a public launch

It’s not a secret society. People can only join a community they hear about and relate to. Get to work on promoting the community. Take advantage of ads on social media, affiliate programs, and word of mouth. Welcome new members warmly and help them come up to speed.

Have your app information compact and well presented

This will be particularly useful for analytics and statistics. Don’t downplay this aspect of the online community. It is a step in the right direction. You will then be armed with enough information to choose the relevant or not-so relevant ads/promos [9].

Pro tip
Progress is gradual and steady. Focus on building a mutually beneficial community. A one-big-happy family approach. It sets the path for building and maintaining an online community.
build an online community with gurucan

Why is Gurucan a great platform to build an online community and become successful?

Gurucan is an EdTech SaaS with intense regard for all things mobile education with an all-in-one app suited for the creation of online courses and more.

Below are some of the reasons why Gurucan is one of the best platforms to build and maintain an online community.

Versatility

For content creators, Gurucan offers an administration panel that may be used on both mobile and desktop browsers. You are at liberty to purchase a white label app from developers, too. The content can be accessed with both mobile and desktop browsers thereby reaching a wider audience. Beyond this, Gurucan supports documents in a wide range of formats.

Ease of use

The Gurucan app boasts of a fuss-free, mobile-friendly interface. There is an online community in the app which makes your members one finger tap away. This makes for easier coverage and a wider reach.

Branding

Gurucan does an excellent job of branding. It is important to be able to create good content while ensuring that the technical intricacies are well sorted. Gurucan is a great platform because it eases the burden of the latter, giving you ample time to create mind-blowing content.

Great support for users

Technical issues arise from time to time. Gurucan offers swift and seamless support and advice as needed.

Ease of Control

Gurucan has an efficient admin panel that allows you to upload your content and manage all online productions.

Special features

Online communities exist for just about any sphere of life. Whether you are in the sciences or the arts, Gurucan offers many special features such as top-notch analytics so you can tailor and adjust your content to suit your audience better. It's also a very secure platform so your data and intellectual property are well protected [10].

build an online community FAQ

FAQs

How do you create a virtual community?

You should begin by identifying what specific concept or shared interest that the community caters to. Choose a host platform. Set up plans for content uploads, onboarding, subscription, promotions, and analytics. Hire moderators and other staff as necessary and launch your community online.

How do you build an online class community?

You must first create your online class. Choose a host platform and let your students know of the community. Add your content to the platform and you choose moderators.

How do you build an engaged community?

Great quality content is a no-brainer. Your content itself should be engaging. If you have to hire creators, do so. Consistent good content is one of the best ways to ensure engagement. Add your own flavor. Leave an imprint. Make your content unique. Trademarked quotes, tags, and captions also add some spice to the community.

What are the examples of online communities?

Some of your favorite social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter qualify as online communities. Online customer communities such as Walmart and Apple are popular too. Other successful examples include Food Blogger Pro and Harley-Davidson.

What makes an online community successful?

An online community is successful when it is beneficial to the creators/business and the members as well. Members should see their interests flourish in a healthy safe space. Of course, it should be financially rewarding to the creators.

How do you monetize an online community?

The subscription-model is an excellent way of getting high returns from your content. With a loyal membership and automatic renewal, there is a chance for steady income for creators. There's also the potential to make money from Ads and income from traffic.

How do you keep people engaged online?

Keep the notifications as personalized and catchy as possible. Create campaigns and social media challenges. Incorporate rewards into these challenges. Make use of affiliate programs allowing your consumers to promote your community while benefitting. Regular incentives are not a bad idea. Be intentional about personalizing e-mails. Don't underrate a sense of belonging.

What are the examples of community engagement?

Community engagement comes in many different forms. Affiliate programs are always a bright idea. Challenges and contests are a way to keep users engaged while showcasing their talents. Offline engagements such as real-life gatherings are a good idea too. A sustainable offline bond makes a virtual community feel like home.

What are the three different types of communities?

There are many different ways to categorize communities. One popular model is categorizing them into Communities of Interest such as Ford Focus, Communities of Tasks such as Wikipedia, or Communities of Vocation/Professional Communities such as LinkedIn.com.

I’m sure by now you’re convinced of the many opportunities offered by online communities. It’s important to create refreshing and relevant content, foster healthy online and offline relationships all while ensuring community engagement. These goals will no doubt require a great platform like Gurucan to be actualized.

Whether the online community is your business or you’re creating one for an already existing business, it is definitely a great idea to explore.

If you’ve decided to build a community, get right on with it! Don’t forget to reach out to the Gurucan team for all the assistance you’ll be needing.

REFERENCES

  1. Worldwide digital population as of July 2020. J. Clement. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/617136/digital-population-worldwide/. Accessed 09-09-2020.
  2. Online Communities. John B. HorriganPew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2001/10/31/online-communities/. Accessed 09-09-2020.
  3. Why Subscription and Membership Models Rock. Julia. Gurucan. https://www.gurucan.com/posts/why-subscription-and-membership-models-rock. Accessed 09-09-2020.
  4. 11 Must-haves for Your Membership Website. Julia. Gurucan. https://www.gurucan.com/posts/membership-must-haves. Accessed 09-09-2020.
  5. Why do your online courses need a mobile app? Julia. Gurucan. https://www.gurucan.com/posts/mobile-app-online-courses. Accessed 09-09-2020.
  6. What are White Label Mobile Apps? Julia. Gurucan. https://www.gurucan.com/posts/white-label-mobile-apps-faqs. Accessed 09-09-2020.
  7. Digital trends 2020: Every single stat you need to know about the internet. Simon Kemp. The Next Web. https://www.google.com/amp/s/thenextweb.com/growth -quarters/2020/01/30/digital-trends-2020-every-single-stat-you-need-to-know-about-the-internet/amp/. Accessed 09-09-2020.
  8. How to Launch a Successful Online Community: A Step-by-Step Guide. Alok Chowdhury. Hubspot. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/online-community-launch. Accessed 09-09-2020.
  9. Main steps to create an online course (part 2). Julia. Gurucan. https://www.gurucan.com/posts/online-course-steps-a. Accessed 09-09-2020.
  10. Create Courses with Online Course Builder. Gurucan. https://www.gurucan.com/features/online-course-builder. Accessed 09-09-2020.

Looking for a stunning
online course platform?

Try Gurucan now

THE ULTIMATE WEBFLOW RESOURCE

Accelerate your development workflow

Components organized in one place

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Looks like we're having trouble

Join our ever growing community. Join us on Discord