Building a community for your startup has undeniable benefits. Community building is one of the most significant driving forces behind any startup. A vibrant community helps you grow your business organically by word of mouth. Happy customers (a.k.a customer advocates) spread the word about your business and in turn bring more customers.
Whether you have 25 customers or 1 Million, it is crucial that you identify people who are passionate about your brand and love to talk about it and thus be your community advocates. These customer advocates can refer other customers and drive virality for your product. Customers love hearing from existing customers of a brand and this builds trust in your product and business as a whole.
However, it is important to understand that community building is not a silver bullet, but rather a give-first initiative and takes time if it is to be done properly. You must focus on providing value first without any expectation from your community members.
Once you provide value, you get a community of people enthusiastic for your brand, who give you honest feedback about your products and service. Those customers become your customer advocates and in turn help you get more customers, creating a community-led growth flywheel!
Thus, to summarize, here are some of the main reasons why community building helps startups:-
1. Identify the right online platforms and channels
Building a community will help you get early adopters for your company. For a startup, it is necessary that you know how the market receives your product. Since there are limited resources, you cannot do a lot of paid customer acquisition, early adopters are super crucial for your product. Your early adopters tell you about your product - what they like, what they dislike and their opinion about your product.
To find early adopters, you need to tap into online platforms and communities that already exist and that pertain to a niche that you are targeting.
Following are sources that you can tap into:
Online platforms and communities
You need to look for your early adopters on various platforms. There are several platforms online where you can launch your product and find early adopters. These platforms help you spread the word about your product, generate organic growth and buzz, which translates into higher SEO rankings, completely free and organic.
We have published a list of 25+ platforms and 400+ communities that you can refer to!
Here's a quick summary of the best online platforms to launch your product:
Having a social media presence helps a lot. You could reach out to people directly on various platforms ("DMs"), or you could make product or feature update announcements on your page. You can leverage social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and many others to do this.
One thing to keep in mind here is to find out what platforms your community advocates prefer the most and interact on. For example, Twitter offers a very different experience in comparison to Instagram and they both are very different from LinkedIn.
Twitter is great if you want to target entrepreneurs and growth marketers;
Instagram works well for targeting fashion, lifestyle influencers and brands;
Finally, Linkedin works great if you want to target employees and corporate profiles;
It is important to note, however, that this is just largely how these platforms operate, but it is quite possible to find a different persona as well with the right filtering mechanism.
So make sure you know which platform would be the most appropriate for your startup.
Launch communities are platforms similar to social media platforms, the only difference is that these communities are solely focused on product launches, thereby having a very active and engaged audience. It's a great way to tell your community about your product.
Some platforms that help you do this are:
Product HuntProduct Hunt helps you get in touch with your first real customers.
It is a platform where marketers and customers get in touch with each other.Startups launch products, which get upvotes from the Product Hunt community, and as a result get a ton of users and customers.
Product Hunt is great for startups that target other very early stage startups, developers or designers as this is the audience that spends a lot of time on Product Hunt.
Indie HackersThis is a platform for independent entrepreneurs (a.k.a "Indie Hackers")
where they share stories, ideas and offer support to each other.
It is a place where like-minded professionals can interact with each other. You can participate in interviews in the form of Q&As, listen to podcasts, engage in meetups, join groups and do much more on the platform.
Indie Hackers heavily emphasizes revenue as a metric for startup success.
BetalistAs the name suggests, Betalist is a platform which allows you to submit
your startup before it goes live for the whole market. In simple words, this helps
you get early adopters who would use your product and give you valuable reviews.It shows you the live number of people who visited your site, it also offers a newsletter feature through which you could attract a large number of customers.
Betalist is extremely useful if you're targeting European and American customers.
Slack CommunitiesSlack is a communication platform which allows you to either
directly message one another or create channels where communication in groups
can take place. Slack communities are meet-up style groups which are very similar to Facebook Groups minus the social media part.
Slack communities already have 1000s of members and thus are a great place for you to engage and post information about your startup. You can find Slack communities that pertain to your specific niche or target segment.
Facebook GroupsFacebook Groups are places where you can communicate with
people with similar interests.
You can search for Facebook Groups that pertain to your specific niche and engage actively in those groups. Facebook Groups are great because you can acquire early adopters from Facebook (using ads or organic methods) and get them directly into your group.
2. Acquire early adopters
Once you find the best channels to get early adopters for your startup, the next step is to convert users on that platform into your early adopters and bring them into your community.
Here are some ways to acquire early adopters into your community:
Exclusive offers, discounts
Another way you can get early adopters is by giving them exciting and exclusive offers. You could offer special discounts on your product or give them some vouchers or points which could be used in your product, thereby creating a reward loop which incentivizes your product customers to transact more.
Refer and Earn
One extremely effective, but somewhat overlooked mechanism of getting early adopters is through referrals. Referrals help us drive virality for our startup and incentivize both the referrer and the referee.
3. Get feedback from early adopters
Now that your early adopters have tried and tested your product, it is time to get feedback. Feedback from your early adopters will help you build a better product according to the needs of your target customers and give you an indication of whether your product would be accepted in the larger market. It works as constructive criticism and helps you build the best version of your product by helping you to avoid major mistakes.
Ways in which you can get feedback for your product:
The best way to get feedback from customers is by taking a survey.
By launching a survey you can get answers to the questions that are
important for you. Some tools that help you get survey are Typeform
There are various kinds of surveys, some popular ones being:
1. CSAT Survey
A CSAT Survey has a very simple rating mechanism - Sad, Neutral, and Happy are three emoji states and a customer can choose how they feel about your product.
If they indicate either Sad or Neutral, it is a good practice to ask them for qualitative feedback. If they indicate "Happy", you can ask them to give you a testimonial!
2. NPS Survey
To calculate NPS or "Net Promoter Score", you need to have a rating between 1 and 10.
NPS = % promoters - % detractors
So if you have 50% promoters and 20% detractors, NPS is 30%
NPS is a quick, but very useful metric to measure customer feedback.
You can also ask your customers qualitative questions about their experience with your product.
Qualitative questions can also be combined with other rating type questions to create a holistic survey that has both quantitative and qualitative questions.
You can also collect feedback and have discussions with customers by creating a Slack or Discord community. This is a very engaging way to have customer conversations.
4. Get Testimonials From Customer Advocates
Now that you have developed your product according to your customers and know that they love it, ask them to review your product online for other people to know. You can use platforms such as G2, Capterra, CrowdReviews and SoftwareSuggest.
If you have early adopters who are unhappy, follow steps 2 and 3 and try to get to the bottom of their feedback. Do not ignore negative feedback as it can lead to more negative reviews online and create a negative impact.
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Building a community for your startup is super important, and at Casa we help startups engage their community.