Marketing your business is an evolving process. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. New technologies are invented and new strategies are discovered every day.
In order to keep growing your business, you have to keep your marketing skills sharp, otherwise, your competitors might overcome you. How do you develop your skills? By learning from other people just like you.
In this article, we’d like to talk about marketing communities. You’ll learn how they help you, where you can find them, and how to behave when you join.
Benefits of Joining Online Communities
Why should you join an online marketing community? The benefits are pretty substantial, actually. Once they get comfortable, many business owners and entrepreneurs find communities to be indispensable resources that boost their marketing results. Here are the major benefits.
Free Knowledge and Advice
The biggest benefit you get from joining an online community is the free knowledge you can soak up just by reading conversations and asking questions. You don’t even have to participate to learn. You’ll gain a lot through osmosis. (Though participating is best!)
Exposure to New Ideas
It’s easy to look up solutions to problems you know, but online communities that are full of relevant and topical conversations can expose you to topics you’ve never heard of before. For instance, you couldn’t learn about price anchoring if you didn’t know it existed, but a community conversation might make you aware of the term.
You Meet Interesting People
When you work by yourself or with a small group of people, it’s easy to fall into a bubble of information and experience. You need to meet interesting people with unique viewpoints in order to grow as a marketer (and a person), which is exactly what you get in an online marketing community.
Get Honest Feedback
Online communities are great places to get feedback, especially if you are new to a particular topic. Honest community members will tell you what you’re doing wrong and how you can improve.
Learn About the Industry
It’s hard to keep up with a rapidly changing industry, especially when new apps and tools are created daily. A marketing community will keep you “in the know” about big events, changes, ideas, or techniques.
This is an especially powerful benefit if you join a closed community that screens its members. People are much more likely to share inside information when they believe it will be kept in the group.
Collect Leads or Conversions
It’s a bad idea to try to sell to other members of an online community, but that doesn’t mean you won’t make any sales. As members of the community learn to trust you as an expert, they will turn to you for your products and services. In many cases, they will join your email list and convert at a later date.
It’s Nice to Have Friends
If you’re a solo entrepreneur or a remote worker, you know how isolating work can feel every day. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a connection to people with shared interests who understand your life and your struggles.
Where to Find the Right Marketing Communities for You
Now that you understand the benefits of online marketing communities, you probably want to know where to find them.
Facebook is one of the best locations to find marketing communities that meet your needs. In terms of features, it’s not the best platform for this kind of thing, but everyone is on it, so it tends to be a popular hub for communities of all kinds.
You can explore groups by navigating to the Groups section of your Facebook account and searching for your topic. You can also opt in to some of Facebook’s suggestions.
Slack is another popular place where communities meet online. You might use Slack for work purposes already, so joining a workspace won’t affect your day-to-day workflow much.
Unlike Facebook groups, there aren’t any public versions of Slack workspaces. You need to be invited by a group administrator. In some cases, this involves an application process. Check out this big list of Slack groups and this list of marketing groups.
Forums are great places to learn about marketing because they are privately owned. The forum creators can customize the website to meet the needs of the community. They aren’t locked into the platform’s features, like they would be on Facebook or Slack.
For instance, a forum about graphic design might come up with a better way to display photos that users attached to their posts. A podcast marketing forum might give you a way to embed audio files into your comments. The forum creator can do whatever they like.
Plus, privately owned forums don’t have to operate within the rules of an established platform. They might allow certain types of content or actions that aren’t allowed on Facebook.
LinkedIn is another common place to find marketing communities, but it’s nowhere near as popular as the other sources. Like Facebook, these groups get traffic because people already use the platform, but not to the same extent. Nevertheless, you’ll find some valuable groups here depending on your needs.
How to Get the Most Value from Online Communities
Before you start searching for marketing communities to join in, take a minute to learn how to behave within them. To get the most value out of a marketing community, follow these best practices.
1. Follow the community rules. Every community will publish rules somewhere. Follow these rules to the letter, especially when you are a new member.
2. Don’t ask people to do things for you. This will just anger the other members. Instead of asking someone to make a change to your website for you, ask them how you can do it yourself or where to find more information. This will help you learn and endear you to the community.
3. Keep your conversations on topic. You’ll eventually get banned for posting irrelevant content, especially if it breaks the community rules.
4. Give far more than you take. Communities only work when everyone contributes more than they take away. Make sure to answer questions, link to resources, and offer your polite opinion as much as you can. Eventually, people will see you as a valuable member and jump at the opportunity to help you when you need it.
5. Move relationships to other mediums and platforms. If you meet someone interesting in a community, don’t be afraid to move the conversation to email or other more suitable platforms.
6. Stay up to date with the feed. Try to read as much as you can, even if you think someone’s post isn’t relevant to you. You never know what you’ll learn. If you know the topic well, that’s a good opportunity to contribute.
7. Stimulate discussion, even if it doesn’t help you personally. Pose questions and post your insightful comments to the group, even if the discussion won’t have an immediate benefit for you. This will cement your value as a member and make people respect your authority.
There are a lot of online marketing communities out there, so you’ll have to find the ones that suit your personality and meet your needs. Try a few to see if they are right for you. If those don’t work out, try a few more until you’re comfortable. Keep in mind that high member counts indicate popularity, but not necessarily quality. The only way to find out if a community is right for you is to spend some time within it.