The aspect of building an online community comprising existing customers and leads is important for most online retailers. A thriving, active online community for your brand may be just the thing you need to really push the sales for this holiday season. This community is also highly valuable in terms of collecting feedback from customers and establishing brand recall.
Not many e-commerce entrepreneurs and retailers remember that building online communities for their brands is possible even without the use of popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You may even find that these social media sites can’t completely fulfill your needs when it comes to community building.
So if you want to enjoy high profits from the holiday online shopping rush, you might want to start building your online community as early as today. Try out these alternative tools for online community building.
vBulletin is widely considered as one of the most user-friendly forum platforms today. Forums are the predecessors of modern online communities. Through forums, your existing customers can post messages and communicate with each other; you’ll also be able to easily get feedback or ideas from forum members. The software itself needs to be downloaded to your website’s server, for a $195 fee per installation.
Aside from a forum-only version of the software, vBulletin offers a community suite. This suite allows forum members to upload and view photo albums, join groups, and participate in polls. Event management and content management and publishing systems are also included in the suite.
If you want members of your online community to enjoy more features, you can opt to use Ning. Ning is considered to be one of the most versatile community building tools today. Aside from user profiles, forums, and blogs, Ning software also provides event calendar features and integration with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The software’s interface allows online retailers to run ads on their website, while selling merchandise through an online storefront.