What do you say when your customers, members, or employees ask you why they should join your organization's online community?
Your response may include points about finding answers to questions, access to experts, and ongoing education.
However, your customers and members are people. Many of them may be motivated by a more personal benefit "“ building a personal brand. Personal branding benefits the company for which an individual works, then is portable in that employees take their brand with them as their careers progress.
Here are 9 actions that you can encourage your community members to take to boost their personal brand profile. Knowing that all members don't have the same comfort level online and experience participating in online communities, we've laid out these tips according in three categories:
'Social networking software' can sound scary to novice members, but helping those in one's company, customer base, or industry solve problems is human nature. Look for ways to help people in the community with their problems or questions.
Take advantage of all of the ways to represent yourself in the online community profile settings. Don't forget to pull in outside content, like your LinkedIn profile and YouTube channel, to make your profile more interactive.
Create a professional profile, but be sure to add a human voice and interests as well. Nobody likes connecting with a robot.
It is hard to find ways to spread your expertise if you are not aware of what is going on in the community. Spend some time learning the subscription settings and activating content alerts for specific groups, forums, blogs, and keywords where you can add value.
Commenting in forums, on document or videos, or on blog posts is an easy way to build your brand in a private online community. Hold back any impulse to promote yourself. Instead, add something that furthers the conversation.
Start a blog or guess post on another blog. You can also upload a document, like a PDF ebook, to the file library or produce a series of helpful videos for the media library. You can choose to share your thought-leadership with specific groups or communities, or open it up to the entire community.
Building a personal brand is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and ongoing effort. This means that consistency if your friend. When you are choosing which brand-building activities you will undertake, like writing a blog, commenting, or creating videos, make sure that you can sustain that level of activity over time.
Research shows that connecting with influential members of a private social network can have a greater impact on customer engagement than other forms of participation. Community managers can use the gamification tools in your online community to highlight the most active and prominent members. Build relationships with those members (Tip: This takes time).
Become the person that people go to for news and insight about a product, industry, or project. Become this hub of information by combining your original ideas with relevant shared content from across the web.
As you build your network and brand in the private online community, you'll get to know more and more people every day. Personal branding superstars get to the point where they can look at a majority of the questions, problems, and challenges in an online community and connect the question-asker with someone who has the answers.
"Looking for a new IT project management job? I know just who you need to speak with."
"Need to a roommate for the annual conference? I'll reach out to my network and have someone contact you directly."
One of the most important ongoing steps in creating a thriving online community is conveying the value that your target audience will get from participating in the online community and then helping them reap those rewards. Providing clear tips for how to use the online customer or member community to get ahead in one's career will surely get your target audience's attention.
Feel free to steal parts of this article to educate your target audience on the tools and techniques available in your organization's online community to bolster their personal brands.