7 Best Community Building Tips for Your Online Coaching Business

No matter the size of your business, the benefits of a strong online community are undeniable. It’s one of the most effective ways to retain clients, turn your followers into evangelists, and attract more coaching clients.

In a time when people feel lonelier than ever, providing clients with a safe community to apply what they learn, talk through their challenges and meet like-minded people is a significant relational advantage. In one survey of those in an online community, 98% said they feel a sense of belonging to that group. Another survey found that 66% said the main reason they loved their online community is that they can connect with people who share their interests.

Building a community takes work, but community gives your team and online coaching business a critical competitive advantage by creating loyalty and drawing the right clients to you. Here are some of the top ways to start building community online.

What are Community Building Skills?

Communities are nothing new. For thousands of years, people have met together in tight groups to bond, problem solve and engage with one another. Psychologists have identified four critical components to creating community:

  • Membership. Members feel belonging to their community and identify with other members with shared goals and interests.
  • Influence. Members need to feel empowered to have a say over group conversations and activities. 
  • Integration and fulfillment of needs. Members need to feel that they get value as a part of the group and are rewarded for participation.
  • Shared emotional connection. A community is the result of quality interactions and bonds. Members' connections are elevated when they receive credit within the community. However, their connection is diminished when they are embarrassed in front of the community.

Understanding what creates a community will help you develop these dynamics online.

Community Building Tips

Get to Know Your Ideal Audience 

You have to know who your audience is and what they want to start building a community online effectively for them. Be clear on their goals, pain points, and outlook. 

Use market research tools and survey your current customers to understand what clients want from their communities. Digital tools like Google Trends can provide you with valuable data about what they search for online. Survey your clients to see what they look for in communities.

Keep logistics in mind when developing a community online. Are most of your clients located in a relatively small area, or will they be across several time zones? If your membership is global, for example, you’ll want to ensure there are plenty of asynchronous activities and events in their time zones so no one is left out. 

Define Community Purpose and Goals

Establishing community values on their own. Instead, find ways to turn values into behaviors that fuel these values. For example, if you value community learning, consider what behaviors will create it for your community. Encourage students to analyze different scenarios and consider how they would apply the knowledge they’ve acquired with you. Have members discuss solutions to questions posed by coaches and their peers. These behaviors will create your values, rather than hoping that stating your values will encourage certain behaviors. 

As you define your community values and behaviors, consider the atmosphere you want your members to create

Establish Member Conduct Within Your Community

As you define your community values and behaviors, consider the atmosphere you want your members to create. What are the ground rules for respectful conversation? How should members treat each other?

Create clear guidelines from the start of what you expect from members and ensure that everyone keeps correct conduct while in your community. It’ll help your members feel safe to share, engage and contribute to the conversation. It also makes cleaning up any mess or damage from members who break these rules easier if you’ve established guidelines from the start.

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Define Team Roles and Responsibilities 

Building an engaged online community takes work, especially as membership numbers grow. While you might be able to start one on your own, you’ll probably need help as your community grows in the thousands. Instead, delegate clear roles so that everything runs smoothly.

For example, daily operations and administration is a critical community role. Curating and managing a community requires ensuring it works properly and members follow guidelines. Many businesses have a community manager for this job, but it’s not unusual for a social media manager or customer support to oversee a community initially. Also, support plays a critical role in a community. Members will need help at some point. Who will they reach out to with their questions? Designate who will answer “how to” questions and any other issues that may come up.

Build Engagement

A quiet community is a bad sign. Aim to encourage an engaged and vibrant community. Encourage members to interact with you and one another. 

Begin by ensuring new members feel welcome in your community. Let them know how they can interact with you and other members. Encourage them to interact and let them know how to get involved so that it is easy for them to continue.

It’s also important to manage and keep on top of the established community to encourage engagement. Ask questions, always respond to comments and questions, and build relationships with members. Consistently post valuable content for members and encourage others to do the same. Comment on thoughtful posts or like comments to facilitate engagement. 

Have a team member check in daily to ensure that everything works as it should and that everyone meets community guidelines. It’s essential to address any issues (say, a member not following your code of conduct) immediately before problems escalate and others are drawn into it.

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Get Personal

If you want your community to be engaged and open, you need to lead the way. Be honest and let your clients get insights into your thoughts and feelings. Letting members know what you think and who you are will make you more relatable. They can share their similarities with you and form a friendship with you.

Be a connector and cheerleader on your platform. Connect members that might benefit from each other or make a great connection. Encourage members who engage with you. Celebrate their wins and give them motivation when they’re struggling.

Get Feedback

Every community has unique interests, insights, preferences, and outlooks. Don’t waste time on content or activities that don’t resonate with them. If something isn’t suitable for your community, client feedback will help you pinpoint it. 

Make it easy for your clients to leave feedback and give their opinions. Create surveys and polls, ask members directly, and even form a focus group of your most engaged clients. Sometimes, community members hesitate to answer surveys or polls because they don’t have time, are uncomfortable with some of the questions, or don’t know how. Encourage responses by sharing your survey in an event-specific newsletter or including a link in a weekly email.

If you want your community to be engaged and open, you need to lead the way

Review You Community Progress

You can’t improve and grow what you don’t measure. 92% of marketers said that their online communities impact their business, but over 35% don’t have metrics to measure their success. Decide on metrics that give you insights into the growth and engagement of your community.

Community KPIs you can measure include:

User Engagement

  • How many total likes and comments in a month?
  • What percentage of users were inactive?
  • What percentage engaged with the community, either with a like, comment, or post?
  • Which posts or boards had the highest engagement? 

User Growth

  • How many new users joined in the past period?
  • How many were lost?
  • What are your total number of users and the growth month over month? 

Try out new ideas and keep these metrics in mind to see if they encourage your community to get involved. Regularly note what resonates with your community best and motivates them the most.

What are Some Community Building Exercises?

There are many ways to build a community online successfully. Every community is different. Each one revolves around specific ideas, passions, and pains. Some community-building examples work perfectly for one community but fall flat when used in another. That’s why understanding your audience is critical to decide which community-building activities are most effective. Here are some ideas if you’re wondering how to build an engaged online community:

Book club

Learning as a group and expanding everyone’s horizons with a book club is a fun way for everyone to continue learning together. Pick a few books related to your industry and expertise. Take a vote on which book to choose for each month so that members get to weigh in and will be more interested in participating.  

Once a month, meet together and discuss what everyone learned, any unique insights, and how it relates to your community. You could even reach out to the author to let them know what you’re reading and see if they have anything they’d like to contribute! 

Create a board for lighthearted memes 

focused baby meme reads happy clients? nailed it.

Your community connects over a passion that others might not be shared in your members’ lives. A meme board is a perfect way to bond over lighthearted fun that revolves around your niche. It’s a great way for members to feel a part of the community and on the inside of the fun. It also makes contributing easy because it can be done asynchronously and requires little commitment.

You can also encourage other lighthearted sharing. For example, ask members to post pictures of their pets or host a fund event like a messy-desk photo contest. The more that everyone can smile and laugh together, the more likely they’ll come back again and again.

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Host a happy hour or coffee break

It’s always fun to let off some steam and chat over a drink, whether at a happy hour or a coffee break. It’s a chance for your members to sit back, relax and bond with the community.

Depending how well community members know each other and their preferences, you may want to raise the stakes with some competition. Make it even more fun with a trivia game where members or teams have the chance to win prizes. It could be a helpful way to break the ice and get people interacting with one another over a game.

Share highs and lows

Vulnerability is a crucial community building exercise, but it’s challenging to do so virtually. Creating moments where members can open up and share their wins and challenges is a powerful way to help them connect. Highs and lows is a simple but effective team builder where members share one positive and one negative thing from their week. 

Create a weekly thread (say, on Fridays) where you ask members about their highs and lows. Because it requires vulnerability to share, make sure that you’re responding to each comment and praising transparency.  

Introduce Your Coaches

Your community is more than your clients; it’s your coaches, too. Give your coaches a chance to introduce themselves to members. It’ll help your clients see the whole team, feel a part of the community, and feel like they know your business better.

You can automatically link Profi coach profiles to the board so customers can book a session directly from the discussion.

How Do You Build a Community Online?

Engagement is more than just medium. Online communities are an excellent way to connect with other people. For example, Zoom is an exciting way for your clients to get live coaching and connect with other members from the safety and comfort of their homes. Building a community online creates space and opportunity for fun, learning, and vulnerability. 

Profi’s Peerboard integration is the perfect way to build a community right in the Profi platform for our Corporate and Network plans. Add a homepage post feed with the latest, pinned, and trending posts. Members get an overview of recent questions and answers. Coaches can also organize their community with categories editor; members get daily digests with the best posts to maintain engagement.  

Book a Demo with one of our Product Coaches today to see how you can start building a community with Profi.

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