As the world is slowly opening up after a few months of lockdown, businesses are gearing up to recover from the losses they have faced so far. However, the bigger challenge lying in front of them is creating similar experiences (in pre-COVID era) which are safe. For most of these brands reviving their retail outlets seems a humongous task so they have decided to move their outlet to the customer’s doorstep. Right from doorstep delivery to try & buy at home is the new order. As these brands look to use digital as their best bet forward they also fear if they can ever create a similar loyal customer base by engaging with them (as earlier) in real time as before. 

The answer to this question is not simple but there are some great steps to take in this direction. Today, we are surrounded by well thought of tools today that allow building real-time chat to foster engagement inside an application. Also, there are other external tools (such as Slack) that require a separate application altogether to have a conversation. However, external applications are often not considered to be a great fit as users hate moving to another application for a particular brand. Thus, the idea to build a chat experience within an existing/upcoming web or mobile app is today considered to create meaningful digital connections. 

A number of other marketers may also debate why inside an application, social media platforms can be a great fit as well. In recent years a number of brands have heavily invested on social media platforms and many of them have succeeded in attracting large followings as well. However, when you take a closer look at the level of interaction they have with their fan base, you understand that in spite of huge brand communities on these platforms the true meaning of engagement is absent. They often become a prey of their ever changing algorithms and growing advertising budgets. 

Thus, the need of the hour is to create a community on the platform which you own, allow your marketers and customer support professionals to own its experience and drive value to the conversation happening. 

So, how can you get started

  • Make Real-time chat a part of your product
    It is important to introduce the power of real-time conversations as a part of your offering early. This allows users to connect with your brand and peers beforehand to understand more about the brand. With a number of chat SDKs available that offer a host of features, it makes it a two-minute process that used to take months of deployment earlier. Create your own brand language, tone, and style of interaction too.
  • Introduce the community
    Communities generally grow around shared value and passion. It is important to explicitly introduce the same and also nail down how the brand plans to stand by the value and its shared passion. In other words, it is an extension of the mission, vision statement which distinguishes brands from one another. This allows your niche community to get aligned with the thoughts you have behind this community right from the onset.
  • Invite Customers & Engage With Them
    Though communities are formed on a shared value they often grow on the level of engagement offered by the community owner. Initially, it is important that continuous interaction and recognition of the community member happens. Once we see this growing then the community will automatically thrive on its own members. Members will start sharing anecdotes, questions, challenges, and more, which will keep everyone engaged. 
  • Use profanity and moderation filters
    It is important that every message exchanged is monitored by your community manager and also by using the modern profanity filters. Having great communication is the best way to increase loyalty and impartial status which will be great for the community and the brand overall in the long run.

We often find building a great community as a long & tedious process. However, we miss recognizing its capabilities to create a huge impact in the long run. It is the same as putting effort into strategic keywords using modern SEO methods for maximum output in the future. Building a flourishing community is not a simple exercise, it requires a good strategy and a significant amount of hard work. To ensure one has the right approach right from the start it is important to have the right set of tools as well. Create your messaging culture, set up your community, and use modern tools to engage, this is the best way for brands to tackle the new world of isolation and the new digital revolution.