How to Choose the Right Online Community Platform For Your Knowledge Business5 minute read
Building a thriving online community is a great way to grow your business and foster engagement among your audience.
Many creators and business owners are aware of the power that comes with growing an online community: what they don't know is how to build an online community that benefits both their customers and their business.
Many times entrepreneurs choose social media platforms, such as Facebook groups, as their place for an online community. While social media platforms are easily accessible and can help you be seen by more people, they are not the ideal solution for harnessing engagement and keeping your members within your own space.
This is where online community platforms come in and offer a tailored solution for creators and digital entrepreneurs who want to build a customizable, private and secure place for their members to interact with each other and build a feeling of community.
If you are an online business owner, you are probably thinking "Oh no, not another app!". We get it, running an online business can get quite expensive, and complicated, with juggling all these different platforms and applications.
This is why at Heights Platform we combined everything you need to run an online knowledge business and sell online courses and digital products, while also having your own built-in private community.
So keep reading below because in today's blog post we will explain what an online community platform is, why you need one, and what to look for when you are in the process of choosing the right online community platform for your needs.
What is an online community platform?
As the name suggests, an online community platform is an application or software that allows you to run an online community and offers all the tools you need to create a space where members can discuss certain topics, share ideas and more.
Generally speaking, online community platforms include the "leader" of the community, or host, and the members, or guests. The community leader can be the business owner, a company, or even anyone who wants to build a community around a topic of interest.
There are two main types of online communities (free and paid). Most social media platforms leverage the concept of free online communities, where anyone can join a certain group or discussion.
Paid online communities are spaces where members are required to pay a fee or purchase a product in order to gain access. Most specialized online community platforms leverage this model to accommodate the needs of business owners and companies.
Depending on your goals and needs, you can choose to offer a free community or a paid one. Many online course creators offer an online community aspect to their students, so members get access to the community only once they purchase an online course or join a coaching program.
Why do you need an online community platform?
An online community platform can have many benefits for your business, and for your customers. The most obvious benefit of online community platforms is the fact that they eliminate physical and geographical barriers so anyone in the world can join and can interact with other individuals who share the same interests, no matter where they are located.
For an online business, this means having the opportunity to attract new customers easily and grow a business on a larger scale.
Another important benefit of the online community platform is the members' experience: inside this online space, people can learn about different topics, share ideas, gain feedback about their work and connect with like-minded peers about topics they are passionate about.
This doesn't only benefit the members of a community: it can be a huge resource for business owners who are hosting the online community. By engaging the members and offering a great experience in the community, people who join will most likely purchase your product, or pay to access the community or your biggest fan who can refer your business to others.
Online community benefits for business owners are not only monetary: a space where members can freely communicate is the perfect opportunity for you to gain valuable feedback about your business. Especially in the case of online courses, your community members and online course students can offer real, actionable insights to help you improve your program according to their liking.
Tips to Choose the Best Online Community Platform
Now that you know what an online community platform is and how you can benefit from it, let's see our top tips on how to choose the best online community platform that fits your needs as a business owner or online course creator.
#1: How Easy is the User Experience?
Your online community platform of choice should be easy to use. Members in your community should be able to easily navigate the platform and find what they are looking for in an intuitive way.
So when you are looking for your next online community platform, check if they offer a free trial and sign up for the platform. Test the user experience, how easy it is to find a topic, discuss with other members and navigate around the space.
#2: Can You Customize the Look and Feel of the Platform?
Customization is extremely important when it comes to the online community - especially the paid, private ones. You want your online community space to look like an integral part of your brand.
This means that you should be able to customize your logo, match the design of the space with your brand colors and fonts, upload images and so on...
By creating an immersive brand experience within your online community, your members will be able to visually recognize your brand and clearly understand your value proposition.
#3: Is it an All-In-One Platform?
Most online community platforms only focus on the community aspect and possibly offer a way to process or accept payments (even though they might refer to themselves as an all-in-one solution), and if you are searching for an online community platform, there is a chance that you don't need anything more than that.
But what if your online community could exist directly alongside your other types of digital products like your online courses, coaching, and digital products? This is how Heights Platform structures its community area, so you can sell digital products and online courses and your customers have access to the built-in community right inside your program.
This way, your online course students and members can easily access the community area, without having to leave your space and without needing additional log-ins.
#4: Can You Monetize Your Online Community?
If you want to monetize your online community by either asking your members to pay a monthly fee in order to access the community or by offering extra products and services through the community, then you need a platform that lets you do this.
In Heights Platform, the online community is directly inside of your program, so you can sell your online courses, membership sites, coaching programs and digital products to the members of your community and vice-versa.
You can also focus 100% on a community aspect by charging a monthly or annual fee to your members to access the community space.
Another popular option is to offer the community as a bonus to students who purchase your online course or digital product, to further engage your customers.
Whatever you choose, Heights Platform makes it simple to offer areas of your online community to different segments of free and paying members.
There are many ways to set up your community and Heights Platform's online community software offers you full flexibility on how to structure your product offerings and communities. On top of this, you can create engaging, fun and valuable online community spaces where members can learn more about different topics, interact with other students, share ideas and gain feedback, all right inside your online branded space.Create Your Online Community