Social networking software for building online business communities is not just a great way to get feedback from your most important entities of your business, but also helps to consolidate your customers (and potential customers) in a single location.
We have seen a few great examples of community building for businesses on previous posts and this time we have yet another great example of how to build online business communities.
The Small Business Online Community by the Bank of America is a great example of using the right combination of social media features to build an online community for small businesses and their owners.
Small businesses make up an important part of the banks clientele, and providing a platform for small business owners to get expert advice, network with each other, share views and experiences and turn the community into a great resource.
The social networking platform forms the basis of the community and allows users to sign up for free and create a profile much like other networks. The site is divided into tabs marked forums, articles, stories, members and events which are the main areas of the site quite simply and clearly mapped out.
The “articles” section features well-written content and expert advice straight from contributors within the company and creates the initial draw for users to frequent and sign up on the community.
An online community is a great platform to publish and share expertise and provides an incentive for small businesses to keep checking for updates and articles of interest.
The “stories” section encourages users to contribute to the community and share their experiences and stories with others on the community. This section is actively updated by the members of the community themselves, which makes it feel like their own platform to openly share stories and views.
Another smart add on is the “Featured Member Story” on the front page. It features a contribution from a member and adds a great touch to the site.
The “forums” section gives the community a voice and this is where you will find all the action. The sections and topics in the forum are neatly categorized into three main categories and subsequent sub categories and features some good conversations ranging from those who need advice on starting their own businesses, those how have questions on financial matters and need someone to pitch in and help them tackle any other issues.
Finally, there is the events page which is regularly updated with upcoming events which might be of interest to the community.
This is exactly what a good online community site is about.
It’s a great destination for the business which now has a place it can bring together an important section of its customers and it’s an equally great place for the customers as an online learning resource and a place to seek expert advice.
A fine example of creating a platform for an online business community.
Tim is a co-founder and president of Axero and the author of his forthcoming book, Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Break Down the Invisible Barriers to Employee Engagement. He's spilt insightful ink on the pages of Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur.com, CNBC, Today, and other top publications.
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