Growing Your Network through Online Communities

Online communities are virtual groups of people or organizations where members interact with each other over a shared interest. Grab Madiskarteng Boss Club (MBC) is an example of such an online community with a specific purpose—to connect and empower Filipino entrepreneurs and to provide them with the necessary tools and diskarte to grow their business. That said, communities can be of any size and can be anchored in various platforms. They can come in the form of Facebook Groups that may have several million members, online forum with mostly anonymous participants, and even small Viber chat groups with perhaps less than a dozen people. You can join communities like these or start your own to help your business achieve its goals.

Types of Online Communities

Broadly speaking, there are two types of online communities:

  • Public. These communities could be joined by anyone. In most cases, minimum vetting is needed to become a part of these groups. Public communities include those that are hosted on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and many others. While there may be some basic requirements, such as a valid account and email address or a set of questions that prospective members can answer, anyone can join these groups for the most part.
  • Private, Exclusive, or Branded. In contrast to public communities, exclusive communities have more requisites to join. If you were to join the Madiskarteng Boss Club, for example, the most important requirement would be for you to be a business owner. Exclusive communities can likewise form around social media sites, but it is also often the case that an organization will have its own website or app for the exclusive use of its members.

Online communities could have various degrees of exclusivity. There are also communities within communities. For example, Grab has a branded community on Facebook that anyone who’s interested in Grab products and services can join. To be part of the Madiskarteng Boss Club, however, you need to fill out an online form and submit proof that you have an online business. Check out the Grab MBC sign-up checklist to find out what else you need to join.

Benefits of Participating in an Exclusive Online Community like MBC

Being a member of the Madiskarteng Boss Club already entitles you to some exclusive perks and benefits, such as being able to pin your store on the Grab app and being able to use specially designed social media hashtags that will help your brand ride on the hype generated by Grab’s campaigns, especially during mega sales events.

But those are just two of the many great reasons for joining MBC and the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits that you’ll be able to take advantage of. By actively participating in the exclusive MBC community, you can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Expand Your Professional Network. Your next business partner, mentor, or supplier may already be an MBC member. Grab’s vetting process ensures only serious, legitimate businesses are allowed into the community. This makes Grab MBC an excellent place to cultivate your professional networks.
  • Learn Through Other Entrepreneurs’ Experiences. Find life-changing advice as well as useful tips and tricks, straight from other entrepreneurs. Participating in the MBC community gives you the opportunity to access mixers and networking events where you can learn from others who truly understand your experiences.
  • Find the Latest News That Can Affect You. Not sure which news items are relevant to you? The MBC is a good place to be tipped off on the latest news that can affect small businesses and microenterprises in the Philippines. For instance, you’ll be able to receive a monthly newsletter that is exclusive to MBC members.
  • Enjoy Relevant Learning Sessions and Seminars. Can’t make out how to use new tools and app features? Want to learn about the latest methods of selling or doing business? Join seminars and learning sessions through Grab MBC to keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date.

Build Your Own Online Community

While being a part of the Grab MBC community is a good start, you may want to start cultivating your own brand-centered community as well. Below are some reasons you may want to start a new community or pay closer attention to one that you may already have:

  • Gain Unique Insights into Customer Behavior. Online communities are good places to gain a deeper understanding of the types of people who follow your brand and use your products. These learnings can allow you to create better-targeted sales and marketing campaigns that produce a healthy return on investment.
  • Create More Compelling Offers. Your community can be a valuable source of feedback that could be used to develop better products and services. If you see some frequently recurring issues, you can use those as starting points for creating new offers or improving existing ones.
  • Reduce Customer Service and Support Requirements. In active communities, like Facebook groups that cater to customers of certain brands or businesses, members will tend to help each other, reducing the need for the business itself to answer most basic concerns and questions. While it’s still best to be able to answer these yourself, having the community pitching in can do a lot to take the pressure off of you and your support team, allowing you to focus on more immediate or challenging customer concerns.
  • Improve Engagement With Your Brand. Having official channels for followers and advocates to discuss your brand also allows you to cultivate engagement, which stirs outside interest in your business. Moreover, active communities can gain a lot of visibility on social media and search engines. If the community is especially passionate, it will likely develop plenty of offline engagement through word of mouth as well.
  • Cultivate Brand Loyalty. The interest and engagement created by managing your online communities well will ultimately translate into brand loyalty, something necessary to encourage repeat sales and a stable revenue stream. Having loyal customers also allows you to more effectively use your marketing budget, as the cost of driving repeat customer purchases becomes much lower compared to acquiring new customers.
  • Boost Your Competitive Advantage. According to a recent article on the Harvard Business Review, brands that develop active communities gain a considerable advantage. Passionate communities feel invested in the success of their chosen brands and will make efforts to help introduce others to them. This can increase your brand’s credibility with people who come into contact with your community’s members, reducing the cost of acquiring future customers. In short, your community might end up doing most of your marketing for you.

How to Build an Online Community

Here are the basic steps in building and cultivating online groups that will be passionate about your brand.

  1. Find Out Where Your Customers Are Most Likely to Be. Do a study or draw from your experience to find out which online platforms your customers are likely to use. While a lot of people will use multiple platforms, chances are, most of your customers will prefer a specific one. Their preferences should inform your decision about which platform to focus your community-building on.
  2. Decide Where and What to Focus On. You can’t be everywhere at once. If your community is spread across too many platforms, you will eventually end up neglecting some of them. Instead, focus on 2-3 social media pages or websites for your community. This will allow you or your community managers to better keep a handle on the community’s concerns.
  3. Define Your Purposes For Each Chosen Platform. Whatever platforms or settings you choose for your community, these decisions must be done mindfully with a specific, realistic goal in mind. If you don’t know what to do with a platform, do some research or stay off it for the time being. Being purposeful with social media can help speed up response times, making things better for both customers and your community managers.
  4. Identify Key Roles and Stakeholders for Each Platform. Now that you have an idea of what you need each of your chosen platforms for, it’s time to take on or assign responsibility for managing them. This will help prevent redundant responses, reduce workloads, and ensure that all the community’s members are getting the attention they deserve, wherever they might be.
  5. Consider Who the “Ideal Community Members” Would Be. To give the development of your community more cohesion and direction, it’s important to have an “ideal member” in mind. This can also go a long way in ensuring that you attract the right kinds of people to your group.
  6. Create Ground Rules. Rules are important to protect community members as well as your brand from potential liabilities. This will also help prevent your community from being diluted by members who have no emotional attachment to your brand.
  7. Consider a Vetting/Qualifications Process. A qualifications process will not only give your community a degree of exclusivity, but it may also help you identify which potential members might be able to contribute something special. A vetting process may also help you keep out individuals who might be disruptive to the community’s welfare.
  8. Configure Your Settings. Most of the popular platforms used for branded online communities are flexible enough to meet a variety of needs. Whichever platforms you choose, make sure to take time to configure the settings and the branding elements so that all your community and brand goals are met. This will ensure that you’ll have a much easier time growing the kind of community you intend to build.
  9. Test and Retest Your Approaches. Cultivating a vibrant, engaged, and positive community takes time. You’ll want to test your initial assumptions, goals, settings, ground rules, visual designs, and moderation approaches and readjust things as needed. Do these things consistently with your customers and members in mind and you’ll be enjoying the benefits of an engaged online community very soon.
  10. Promote Your Community! Tell new customers about your online community. Be sure to include your platforms in your product packaging, business cards, and thank you notes. End your emails and IMs with links to the platforms you want to cultivate. If you’re a Madiskarteng Boss Club member, share your community with other Grab MBC members and teach them how you created a loyal online following.

To learn more, be sure to also ask other Grab MBC members about their experiences managing their own online communities.

Join the Grab MBC Community Today

Regardless of whether you want to create your own online community or just participate in existing ones, joining Grab Madiskarteng Boss Club is one of the best ways you can grow your business today.

The exclusive tools, perks, and promos aren’t the only reasons you should sign up for Grab MBC. The Madiskarteng Boss Club is a fully featured, closely curated online community created with Filipino entrepreneurs in mind.

You can connect with other Grab MBC members through meetups, seminars, and learning sessions to take your business to the next level. Find mentors, trusted suppliers, and new professional contacts through the exclusive MBC community. Learn more about Grab Madiskarteng Boss Club today, and once you’re ready to join, fill out the MBC registration form to become a formal member of the club.