Creating online communities helps foster user engagement, and it enables them to participate in conversations that matter.
However, engaging large groups of people online can be time and energy consuming, and it risks diluting your purpose as you cast a wider net.
On the other hand, micro-communities engage with this trend to a more contained degree while still allowing you to create tightly-knit groups that share a common purpose or interest.
Being part of one can feel like exiting a massive crowd and thriving in a small space with like-minded individuals while forming stronger connections more directly.
And here’s a fun fact: did you know that 70% of millennials’ buying decisions are influenced by their micro-communities?
If you’re curious to know more about micro-communities and how to create one, read on. First, we’ll introduce the topic, and then we’ll share six steps that you can follow to create your own.
What Are Micro-Communities?
Micro-communities are specially designed communities that are intentionally limited in size and often provide increased access to a brand or micro-influencer. This makes them more manageable, and members view inclusion in an exclusive group as a privilege.
Micro-influencers and larger brands use these communities to create a more exclusive environment. If you’re curious, we included a few micro-communities in this list of online community examples that we compiled.
More often than not, micro-influencers with a small group of loyal fans and brands who want to access their top consumers use micro-communities to grow while remaining aligned with their audience’s needs.
Influencers Use Micro-Communities to Grow
These personalities often start with a small set of loyal fans. The community allows them to launch campaigns, seek feedback, and create the feeling of riding a wave of incoming popularity.
Then, the micro-community can become a space where they’ll always feel like “insiders” no matter how large the community gets.
Successful brands use micro-communities as an exclusive extra and a way to receive feedback from their most devoted customers.
One of the best examples is how Glossier. opened a Slack channel to its top 100 customers. Here, they exchange over 1,100 messages weekly, which allows them to listen to their customers rather than settle for accumulating likes and follows.
What Are the Benefits of a Micro-Community?
While not all micro-communities offer the same benefits, here are some of the most common ones. Instead of trying to obtain them all, focus on those that you think are more worthwhile in your case.
- Increased Engagement: Rather than chatting with the whole world, micro-communities allow you to engage in an exclusive, private community with your most loyal followers. You can share exclusive content and respond more thoroughly than in a public forum.
- Targeted Feedback: Getting feedback from your private, engaged community is more targeted. It also lets your audience feel invested in your product or service.
- Manageable Connections: Large groups often require a community manager to monitor and engage everyone, but with a micro-community, you can manage it independently.
- Valued Exclusivity: Accessing your micro-community can be a beneficial bonus to loyal fans. Since this level of access isn’t scalable, it is incredibly valuable.
- Safer Sharing: Fans expect influencers to be glossy and flawless. However, a micro-community lets you show a behind-the-scenes, raw, and vulnerable glimpse of your life. This increased vulnerability defines this community as a safe place to share.
- Tested Offers: Micro-community bonuses could include exclusive offers or advance sales. These special offers let you reward your community while also collecting feedback on new products, services, or marketing.
- Social Proof: You can use the stories you hear in the group as testimonials or social media posts. These stories serve as social proof for your brand or micro-community.
Community platforms offer many features making a choice seem difficult. However, when you know the benefits your community needs, searching for the right platform becomes simpler because you can choose one that supports those benefits.
Six Steps to Starting a Micro-Community
If you believe that a micro-community is the right fit for you and your business you’ll be happy to know that it’s easy to start! Here are six steps to creating your micro-community.
1. Know Your Audience
Ensure that you know who your audience is and the level of engagement they want and need. While we listed above how it will benefit you, consider how it will benefit them.
2. Determine the Purpose of Your Micro-Community
Knowing your micro-community’s purpose will help you narrow the focus and ensure that those who engage with it will get what they expect. Focus on one or two objectives and treat them as priorities.
3. Consider the Entry Requirements
To maintain an exclusive feeling, pre-determine your entry requirements. Examples may include:
- Capped number, like Glossier’s top 100 customers
- Experiences, like those who attended the virtual In Goop Health Summit
- Raised prices, like paying $100,000 to be in Joe Polish’s Genius Network
- Income levels, like entrepreneurs who gross over $5M per year
4. Choose the Right Platform
There are a lot of platforms with different features and benefits. Consider making your choice based on what resonates with your audience and the environment that benefits them.
Our research suggests that the best option is to host your community on a platform designed for this purpose. Our top two recommendations are Mighty Networks and Circle. For the full rundown of these and other platforms, see the list of the best online community platforms.
However, you can also host your micro-community on other platforms, such as:
- Private Instagram account
5. Reward Engagement
Some platforms gamify user interactions, meaning that you can offer recognition to the most active ones. Ideally, you’ll want a system that recognizes members for the quality of their contributions and not only the quantity.
One way to make a positive impression with your group is to ask for their feedback and implement changes to your products or services based on what they share.
For example, if someone asks for the wording on a button to be changed or to change the placement of some element of your product, make the change and then ask them to look at it again.
Sometimes, you can offer a financial incentive to those who provide feedback that improves your systems or services. This could be a $5 coffee card, a free 15-minute phone session, or a $50 gas card.
When you demonstrate your commitment to improving your fan’s experience, you’ll receive loyalty and commitment in return.
6. Promote as Little as Possible
A constant bombardment of offers and ads can erode the purpose of your micro-community. Though the community supports your business, it should feel like the group serves their needs rather than yours.
When you promote an offer, be mindful of how you present it. It should benefit your members and not feel like you’re seeking a means to pay for your next jacuzzi.
Are Micro-Communities for You?
Micro-communities aren’t for everyone. If you don’t have an audience of loyal clients or fans or time to invest in them, this might not be for you.
However, if you’re motivated by engaging with a small, exclusive audience and your business can benefit from the advantages offered by a micro-community, it could be a great strategy.
It’s easy to overlook the potential of a micro-community. But as with atomic energy, even the tiniest particles possess great power! A micro-community might contain the explosive growth you need.
And you? What micro-community are you considering? How do you intend to use it?
Please share in the comments and let us know!