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Building an Online Community: Part 2

by Admin 7. May 2009 09:05
Our first post in this 2-part series talked about the use of forums in buidling an online community for your current and prospective customers. In this post, I will discuss how a blog, together with a forum, can be great resources for small businesses and serve your customers better.

 

Blogs can be used to build relationships with customers, as well as help you in product development by sharing new features and welcoming ideas and feedback from the readers. Blogging can also be used for viral marketing, as the posts can create a number of responses from other bloggers, bringing traffic to your blog and improving your SEO.

 

Blogs can help you improve your operations and this is where running a forum parallel to a blog can really benefit your customers. Blogs and forums can both give support to customers; blogs through the article format and forums more through a question and answer(s) format.

 

Although all the above are true benefits your company can experience from blogging, perhaps the biggest one is the ability to create brand awareness and set yourself apart from your competitors. At OfficeClip, we have chosen to use our blog to help other small businesses become more efficient. We do this by sharing tips on marketing and advertising techniques, technologies and strategies, and by explaining the benefits of our timesheet software, web contact manager and issue tracker.

 

Blogging is a way for us to share what we know and what we struggle with, so that we can help our current and prospective customers. Hopefully, they'll leave comments and suggestions for us too!

 

As far as platforms for blogs, we use www.wordpress.org and this is probably better for a business than www.wordpress.com because we have more control over things like widgets, adding features, changing the design, etc. to fit our specific needs. Also, we get to have our own domain name, which is very important for SEO.

 

Online communities connect us to our customers in ways that most could not have even imagined a few years ago. Building one by being transparent, honest and creative can help you establish your company on the web.
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