Online communities have become an integral part of every organization today. A study projects that around 58% of brands have both online and in-person communities and 38% have only digital communities. Communities have become a valuable resource for businesses to collaborate, learn, and share insightful information with users.
The main purpose of building online communities is to create a space for customers to interact openly, exchange ideas, resolve queries, and build long-term meaningful relationships. Businesses can identify customer preferences, understand their needs, address their queries in real-time, and grow through communities.
Higher Logic reported that they saw an 81% increase in community engagement. It is, thus, a great opportunity for businesses to promote self-service through interactive customer communities and encourage user participation.
Let’s take a deeper look at what the community landscape in the year 2021 will look like.
- Virtual Engagement Will Rise: Businesses are taking a step ahead and are striving to create an online presence by hosting virtual events, live streams, and webinars.
To leave a lasting impact on users, you can create an online community that is solely dedicated to virtually connecting with the audiences and hosting virtual events.
Virtual event communities are an ideal medium to educate and engage with your customers. This kind of relationship cannot be built using an offline community, thus, virtual event communities will prove to be a boon.
- Community Engagement Will Become a Necessity: This year highlighted the importance of having an online community to keep the support cycle up and running and to keep users engaged 24×7.
However, many organizations still do not have a community, which burdens support reps with the increased caseload.
To meet the ever-rising needs of the customers, it has become crucial to invest in building a customer community and engaging with them to encourage repeat business.
- AI Will Transform the Community Landscape: Integrating AI with online communities will unleash a whole new world of possibilities for organizations.
Using AI, you can assess who your active users are, what forums and discussion groups they’re participating in, how you can reward them through effective gamification, etc. Also, AI empowers community managers to streamline tasks and make it a proactive process.
Forget about delayed responses, community moderation, and real-time query resolution, AI will transform it for good in the year to come.
- Member Participation Will Increase: For many, online communities are simply a channel for answering product or service-related queries escalated by the users. And that’s that!
But many organizations today have had this realization that communities can do much more for them than they had expected.
Communities allow users to express their opinions and views about certain issues and topics and discuss possible solutions and their feasibility.
A community is a powerful tool that empowers businesses to engage with prospects better and grow their business. In return, consumers become strong brand advocates, and rope in new users by spreading the word.
- Personalization Will Prevail: The year 2021 will be all about personalizing the customer’s buying journey by identifying their requirements and developing solutions that best fit their needs.
AI and ML will play a major role in making it happen. Gamification will become more prevalent and customer participation is expected to increase.
To keep users interested always, businesses will have to think of new actionable ways to maintain communication with them. Thus, personalization will be the key to gaining the attention of new and existing customers.
With new growth opportunities, 2021 is surely going to be an exciting year for online communities.
It all boils down to identifying what your customers need and how you are fulfilling those needs to make it an exceptional community experience for them in 2021. With the right strategies and approach, you can toggle through all obstacles and make your community stand out.
Credit: Grazitti Intreactive