This article was original published on Linkedin here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-how-startups-need-build-own-community-early-dan-gudema?published=t
Let’s say you are planning on building out a tech startup, a mobile app, a website or Internet of Things box sometime this year or next year.
Well, long before you go live with a product or service, you needed to have started the process of building out YOUR community.
What Is YOUR Community?
So, what do I mean by community? Why would you do this and how do you do this?
First, let’s define community. Community is a general word which I use to refer to a lot of media. It really means any connection you can make that keeps you connected to the customer.
Building YOUR community is not just your social media, because social media is a specific type of interactive communication system. Community is much more. Social Media is one component. Email for instance is not social media, but getting somebody’s email into a free MailChimp account is building your community. Having a website and website visitors on a daily, monthly or weekly basis (that you track using free Google Analytics) is part of your community.
Members of YOUR community represent any way you can CONNECT and continually COMMUNICATE with potential customers.
And Why Build A Community?
The answer to this must seem obvious to a few people reading. By the time you are ready to launch your startup, maybe next April in the spring, you want to have a bunch of subscribers and interested parties lined up to use the product. It makes sense. You build your community for the future not today. Now some businesses may not need this type of community, but most will benefit tremendously. You don’t have to do any of this community building to create a online startup or mobile app, but let’s just say that you are going to be 6 months to a year or years behind on that day from a marketing point of view. And in the end building a community could be what makes or breaks your startup on day 1.
YOU Are Your Own Community Leader!
And every community needs a leader. Many startup founders will try to build a following in advance of their service offering by being anonymous. Anonymous is not very community-inspiring! You should be out there on a limb leading, not hiding. Being a leader means writing this type of blog and communicating to these potential customers that you have the expertise and leadership to get your product or service off the ground. For instance, take a look at the last 40 posts I have written about startups on all my blogs and you will realize I have been building a community and following, even if you are reading this for the first time. Best to get on my list or follow me here and follow along, especially if you are getting ready to build out a startup!
A Way To Get Found
Building a Community is part of a strategy of getting found online and possibly getting followed. All the activity I do like Blogging, Tweeting, Meeting and Periscoping and other is pushed out to Google and found by people with an interest. They find my stuff by keyword, by subject, by category and by location. And that draws them to an article like this, and if they like it, they get on the my email list and follow, but they can follow me a dozen other ways from on my blogs to Linkedin, to Twitter to Facebook, etc, etc.
I am not a big fan of Facebook for business, but I am starting to warm up to it, since everybody and your mother (literally) is on there. But I still believe there needs to be a DMZ in your online life between Facebook (personal) and Business activities.
Below are all the components of my community building strategy. I am going to give you all the URLS and info and systems I use for each one. This is my freebie to you. I will even give you the why…
Website: http://www.startuppop.com – I blog here as well. The website gets found via SEO on Google and you can get on my email list there. Blogging here gets better SEO than Linkedin. Of course I use WordPress, which has all kinds of free goodies to get out there and noticed. Will mention one, called Publicity, which you get in the Jetpack Plugin, that will send out a message about a blog article to Linkedin, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter with just one click.
2nd Website: http://www.strategicpoints.com – This is an old website, consulting site of mine that I blog on still with a focus on web analytics. But I still get people finding me this way. And it has great domain age and history with Google.
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielgudema – One of the nice things about Linkedin is they publish articles and the URLs and Titles which eventually get indexed on Google. It also lets you keep in contact with your past associates if you want them to be involved in your future community.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/dgudema – I use twitter as a way to get impressions. Impressions are just people having your tweets pass on their twitter stream. Getting over 5,000 a month is about where I need to be. It does drive some interested parties to this type of article and my website and meetup.
Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/Boca-Raton-Tech-Start-ups-Meetup/ – Since part of my strategy to build my community has been events, Meetup has become an important part of my systematic approach. Go here to see more about my events.
Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tech-startup-pitch-event-with-demo-day-tues-nov-1st-600pm-at-the-green-house-in-boca-raton-tickets-27996442112 – I use eventbrite for several reasons, but one is they get good SEO and people can find my events on the website.
Medium: https://medium.com/@dgudema – I use Medium, a free blogging service, as another blog that seems to have a focus in the industries that I focus on, startups and entrepreneurs and web and mobile apps.
Periscope: https://www.periscope.tv/dgudema – When my son is not scoping about the hurricane, I use Periscope to display live video streaming of my pitch events. I need to use it more effectively and to have a weekly video blog. You can’t get everything right!
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/startuppop/ – StartupPOP does has a Facebook page, but like I said, there are dangers in focusing in on just Facebook. The danger has more to do with the fact that you can not control what images and things people post about you and who wants unknown business associates interacting with your children’s photos. It just sounds creepy to me.
Google+: https://plus.google.com/114121254221625179706 – I have not worked this social media method because it falls us the category of the perspective of I am not sure if anybody looks at it.
Email – I use Infusionsoft, but that is not available to most people. I recommend MailChimp and Constant Contact. Mailchimp in particular has a free account.
And there are a dozen other community and social media avenues I do not use often like Texting (There are ways to send bulk messages), Pinterest, Meerkat for live video streaming, YouTube (this one could be your entire community building place), Vimeo (the other video site) and there are a dozen others I could research and mention here.
So, bottom line is you can build a community. You can publish videos in advanced. You can get followed, liked, joined, submitted, retweeted, played and streamed. You have all these free tools to work with and not it is time for YOU to build YOUR OWN COMMUNITY.
Why Mobile Apps Need to Listen Up?
One of the biggest problems for Mobile Apps I have blogged about in the past is often they don’t have a great search engine web strategy, meaning the only way they can get found is via Mobile app store and mobile app sharing. It is a bad strategy to just have a mobile app in iTunes and the Google Play Store only! This is why few mobile apps get found easily. Most people are not searching the app store but rather searching Google. So if you are not going to build out a website (which you should), you have so many other options to build your community. Just do it.
So once again here is the part of my article where I give you the hard pitch, especially if you live in South Florida. If you live in the NYC metro, I will be giving the hard pitch soon as well. On Tuesday, Nov 1, 2016 at 5pm in Boca Raton. Florida we are once again running a Tech Startup Pitch Event at The Greenhouse (Yamato & Federal corner) with up to 10 startups, 3 investor panel members, several Demo Day tech startups who are buying a space to demo and over 70 attendees who have RSVP’d for the event. We are always looking for sponsors like our current ones for this event, CardConnect, The Greenhouse and BrighterIdea. So click the link below to RSVP! And I will see you there. Have a great day.