Community becomes a critical part of a business as it grows and desires to have a larger impact. Without people supporting the brand and business, growth is difficult. Having a strong community of people is the main ingredient in the success of a business.
Connecting with your audience, solving their problems, creating a space where they can freely talk to each other, and recommend your company to others, are just some of the benefits you can get by creating an online community.
In our latest episode of Systematic Excellence Podcast, we invited Rhodesia Jackson to join us and talk about her experience with creating communities to help her audience share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
Rhodesia is an amazing branding and graphic designer whose work focuses on helping feminist business owners and other folks with strong values.
We also talked about important steps that you can’t miss when creating your own community and why they are so important in the modern world.
So if you haven’t listened to the episode yet, we recommend you continue reading!
What does it mean to build a community for entrepreneurs?
Amalie: What does community continuance mean to you? What does it mean to build a community and why is it important for people to do that as they scale their business?
Rhodesia: I think building a community allows you to connect with your audience in a way that’s not really possible one-on-one. You have a group of people who all are in the same group for a reason, either they like your product or like the values that you have surrounding your products or your business, and they want to talk about it. They have opinions and topics that they want to bring up that may not be answered fully and different groups of people. So having that community allows them to get things answered and for a business owner, it allows you to see and see what they’re thinking. It’s always good.
Amalie: So what is your community about? Is it business-related, is it personal or is it both?
Rhodesia: It’s a Facebook group for feminist business owners. It’s really just a group for feminist leaning or really value driven business owners to connect and be able to ask questions. I think a lot of times with how polarizing the political atmosphere it is here in the United States right now, and pretty much the world, it can be difficult for business owners to speak about what they believe and what they think is important and things that really matter to them. I think being loud and proud and open about how you feel about everything is important because people connect with you as a person, as opposed to you as a business.
I do a challenge where I help people implement inclusivity into their messaging every once in a while, maybe three times a year. Just going on social media and day by day during seven days to update your social media channels and make sure that you’re making an effort to make them more inclusive. Just because you’re thinking you’re really inclusive, it doesn’t mean everything about your business is doing that because it’s not set up to do that automatically, it’s set up to connect with people that look like you, people that have same experiences as you and you don’t get different views and different points of views in your day-to-day life.
Amalie: Another aspect of this that we relate to business is we talk about hiring people that are experts in what they do, which are different from what you do. You don’t want to hire a bunch of people that are just like you, because then you don’t have people that are going to give you input or help broaden your horizon or show you things or give you inputs or outlooks that you might not ever think of. And so having a wide variety of people and skills and knowledge will help you grow and give you a good base for your business.
Rhodesia: Because the great thing about people is they all have different experiences and they’ll have different frames that they bring to the table. So every solution for every problem is going to be different; if someone has a different experience, they’re going to come to the table with a different solution that can save you time, money, it could just be a more interesting, more exciting solution, especially in the world of design and creativity.
Benefits of building a strong community online
Amalie: And that’s what Janine and I do, we help people as consultants. They can’t necessarily see all the other options that might be outside of what they’ve normally done. As far as building a community, what are the objectives of it?
Rhodesia: I mean in business terms, in marketing terms, it gives me an audience of warm leads. That’s obviously a great thing, but also I like talking about this sort of stuff, all the time, and it’s a conversation when people are going to take part in and actually get more perspectives, which I really appreciate. I think you can ask questions that you would never think to ask a different group because you’re not going to get the answers at all, or people won’t see it because the group is so large, but having a smaller size group and having it being so pinpointed on this very specific topic of being inclusive.
Amalie: How can you measure the growth of a community beyond numbers of people? What other ways can you use to grow or evaluate?
Rhodesia: I think it’s really important to have engagement. I think that is number one. For me, I’ve had groups before where there were probably as many members, but there is no engagement. It was like crickets. So that’s not valuable, it’s not doing anything for either side.
Actionable steps to build your online community
Amalie: What things can you do in order to get people more involved and engaged? And why is it important for the future of your business?
Rhodesia: I think making sure they’re part of finding the answers. I’ll do polls some time to see what people want to learn about and ask questions, like why they joined the group, what they want to get out of the group. What are things that they are really worrying about? Having a group, being in a community allows you to really ask questions whenever you need to, if you’re stuck on what to talk about in a blog, or if you’re stuck on what to ask, and they give you the answers. And it’s a way to let them know that you’re an expert, you know what you’re talking about and you’re an authority in that.
Amalie: What I was kind of thinking in my mind is that it helps kind of create organically, this lead generation system or sort of pool of people, but also I would be willing to bet that it probably improves your referral network. We were just talking about this recently on a podcast episode that it’s so important to build relationships and actual, genuine relationships, getting to know people inside of a community, especially a Facebook group or anywhere where there’s a forum, where people are posting ideas and talking, having conversations organically, they’re going to start to build relationships with people. So then your referral network starts to grow. You have better relationships, you start to get to know the people in your group, but also the people in your group benefit from that too because as they start to grow those relationships like you’ll start maybe to refer people to the people in your group and the people in your group will refer things to other members of the group. It just becomes a huge network whether they become your client or they just referrals, but there are so many opportunities for it based on just relationships and actual genuine relationships.
How to start your online community
Amalie: So let’s say someone is at a place where they’ve gone through the business hierarchy of needs and they’ve gotten to community continuance. What’s the first place that they start?
Rhodesia: I think trying to think about what sets the group apart. The problem with the first group I started was that it was too vague. It was like a women’s entrepreneur group to learn about design. It sounds boring. It wasn’t getting the attraction because there’s too many of those in the sea. It’s kind of like with business, you can’t differentiate yourself with what everyone else is differentiating themselves with. You need to take your special sauce of USP and use that to really make a group that speaks to the people you want in your community and your audience. Otherwise it’s just gonna fade into the background.
Amalie: They probably need to find a platform if they don’t have one, decide what platform you want, if you just want to build your community around your Instagram account, that’s fine. But if you’re looking for more of an engagement type community, Facebook groups might work for you, or Mighty Networks is really starting to come out.
It depends too, where will your people most comfortably hang out? If it’s too difficult to get to, people aren’t going to do it. So if your people or if your community has to work too hard to get there, they’re probably not going. But the first thing is to find a structure around it, and then once you have that, it’s really just inviting people and putting essentially marketing, just like any business.
And that’s it for today! We hope this interview has been as helpful to you as it was to us. See you on the next episode!
To listen to the full episode click here. https://systematicexcellenceconsulting.com/podcast/
If you’d like to connect with Rhodesia, you can reach her at:
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