I had the opportunity to speak with Owen McGab Enaohwo at Hire Your Virtual Assistant to discuss how to create an online community and how small businesses can get started using “community” to help their business.  You can see the full interview and an outline of the discussion at hireyourvirtualassistant.com/blog.  I don’t want to repeat that discussion here and detract from Owen’s efforts.

Still, it’s a great topic, because so much attention is on social media and the encouragement of brands to join the conversation with their consumers. The idea of online community goes back to the earliest days of the Internet, and the foundations of what works are not that different from what works in offline relationships.  Community is a powerful and persuasive communication channel and there’s no doubt companies need to have this as a part of their overall go-to-market strategy.  Yet, how, where and when you participate are all up for debate.

A small business is often resource constrained and the time commitment to building a community can be overwhelming.  There are better places to start and work toward the benefits without over committing. We go into those details in my discussion with Owen.

As much as I’m a believer in Brand Thunder’s interactive browser themes, it’s not the place I’d start – in fact, you still don’t see a Brand Thunder browser theme available (though you may notice www.ThunderThemes.com is a working URL and pointing to our gallery for an indicator of other efforts, but I digress).  While the browser theme is a powerful communication channel, it does well as an affinity marketing tool allowing brands to leverage the audience they’ve aggregated and deepen those relationships.  Small businesses need to be focused on creating those relationships and leveraging the platforms that can help with that, but in a manner that allows those community-building efforts to be inserted amongst the thousands of other necessary tasks for survival.

There are a lot a small steps a small business can take to make community building a part of their business building. Check out the discussion with Owen for those details, and there is a written outline if you don’t have time to watch the video.

Where do you think community falls in the priority of a small business and what are the best ways to leverage its power?

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