Two businesses are selling similar products, but one is growing faster, attracting better customers, and quickly expanding into new markets.
What’s the difference between the two? One has a micro-community where customers hang out and share feedback, essentially telling the business owners the features and add-ons they want.
If you want to build quality relationships with customers, convert leads faster, and deliver value to your audience, a niche community is just what you need. They may be small (as the word “micro” suggests), but they provide big benefits to businesses and customers alike.
Wondering what micro-communities are and how you can easily use them to create impact and grow your business? Stick with us for a quick, but thorough run-down.
TL;DR: Creating a micro-community for your customers has multiple benefits: it provides them a place to share their opinions, it gives them a sense of belonging with a like-minded group, and it allows you to understand their needs so you can improve your products. All of this adds up to create an audience that’s loyal to you—plus many more benefits so keep reading!
What is a micro-community?
Micro-communities are exclusive, highly-focused online groups that are hosted by a business to support customers or prospects. While micro-communities may be small (up to, say, 100 members), “micro” doesn’t necessarily refer to the community's size. Instead, “micro” refers to the micro or niche focus of the community rather than its size.
For instance, members may all be enrolled in the same online course or coaching group. They may all be working towards a common goal, like members of a small mastermind group focused on business growth. Or, they could be a beta group to help you develop a product.
Examples of micro-communities
Micro-communities come in a wide range of structures and formats. How you structure and format your own micro-community depends on your purpose for the group. Here's a little inspiration for you…
Glossier’s customer communities
Glossier, fondly known as the “people-powered beauty ecosystem,” has mastered the art of staying connected with customers. It does this by inviting top customers to Slack groups, where they can engage and stay connected.
The groups are hyper-localized, and members exchange over 1,100 messages weekly, creating a feedback loop from Glossier’s most engaged fans.
Doodle Institute’s member clubhouse
Doodle Institute sells online courses that teach people how to doodle. Students get basic training in the course. Then, as a bonus, they also get access to the Doodle Clubhouse.
The Clubhouse gives students a safe place to ask questions, share their work, and network with other doodlers.
MyYogaPal helps people connect with themselves and their yoga practice. They also provide a yoga community where students can connect with other people who are passionate about yoga.
The big benefits of a micro-community
Size isn’t everything. You can reap big benefits from small communities, especially if it’s a micro focus community that answers specific needs that aren’t addressed elsewhere. Let’s take a look at micro-communities biggest benefits now.
Micro-communities foster feedback
Micro-communities tend to be informal and intimate and are a safe space where people can share their mindsets and goals. As a result, they’re a smart strategy for gathering honest feedback on your product and services.
A study by Zak found that 60% of people under 30 prefer sharing their opinions in safe spaces like private groups and are less comfortable chatting in open forums. But this isn’t an age-related issue. In a community that’s composed of people “like me,” people tend to feel more confident sharing their thoughts.
When you create a small community where your customers feel heard (and involved), they’re more likely to share their opinions and stories.
These customer insights can clue you in to gaps in your products, services, communication, and more. They can help you craft a better message, improve your products and customer experience, and show your customers you truly care about what they say. Learn how Kajabi Hero, Dan Plew, did this with his membership community.
Hot tip: Don’t let good feedback go to waste. Take action on it and customers will feel extra special and appreciative, like this user of payment processor Stripe.
From anonymity to real connection
Often, it becomes hard to put a face to a name when you’re getting feedback from customers across the Internet. While Google reviews and comments left on open forums act as great social proof for your business, they may not be as valuable as you think they are. They may include people who aren’t part of your ideal customer profile—the individual you can learn the most from.
But when you create a micro-community for your 100 top customers, you can be sure that you can trust their feedback.
As you engage with them in the community, you’ll get to know them. You’ll begin to understand their goals, like what they’re trying to accomplish. With this information, you’ll be able to create new products and features that help them achieve those goals.
Not only does this build loyalty among your top customers, it also turns them into brand ambassadors, because people like to talk about great brand experiences.
Build a mutually beneficial support network
Because community members have common interests and goals, they can form strong bonds. As a result, they will support one another, making your job easier.
If customers publish a question about your product or service on a micro-community, chances are, they’ll receive answers from multiple like-minded individuals who are eager to share their experiences, ideas, and stories.
These are rich interactions centered around your brand, a win-win for your business and your fans.
Why start a micro-community?
As we’ve discussed, micro-communities are a valuable addition to any business. But you might still be wondering if a community is the right fit for you. To help make your decision easier, here are the three top reasons you should consider starting a micro-community.
You become more than a service provider.
When you make your customers feel involved (through a micro focus community or otherwise), you become more than just a familiar brand or star personality. Communities help foster authentic relationships with your customers, increasing their sense of belonging and loyalty.
Now, you’re seen as a friend or mentor, not just another online course creator. That expands your network, making it easier to create and sell new products.
It’s easier to serve multiple customer types.
Micro-communities are a great way of serving customers in more than one industry or niche.
For example, let’s say you do corporate training for large companies and sell self-guided courses that teach the same material to individuals. Rather than creating one community that doesn’t serve either audience well, you can create a unique community for each segment.
You can laser focus on the needs of your customers, and personalize content to their needs. Thus, each group will get the support that’s most helpful for them.
It serves as social proof.
Micro-communities provide “social proof” for your brand. When someone joins your community, they see others’ posts and the respect they have for you. If they didn’t know you in advance, they’ll quickly realize you’re a leader who can be trusted.
Positivity is contagious. New members will quickly pick up on the energy of the group and adopt the same positive attitude. Note, if your product runs into issues or your brand comes under fire for ethical practices (may it not be so), communities can become a place for venting frustrations.
Additionally, the positive information shared about your brand within the community can easily be adapted into a testimonial you can use across your marketing channels. Learn how to write an effective testimonial here!
How can a micro-community grow into something more substantial?
When you create a micro-community and provide customers a safe place to engage with you and other members, it engenders loyalty.
In the world of business, loyalty is worth more than gold. It's one thing that can’t be bought, no matter how much you spend on marketing.
Not only are loyal customers more likely to buy from you, but they’re also more likely to speak fondly of your products and services among other like-minded individuals, thereby increasing your sales.
By fostering loyalty and improving customer experiences, micro-communities can become growth engines for your business—leading to customer retention, new customers, and even great ideas for new products and services you know people want!
Here’s one example of how you can grow a micro-community into something bigger.
Let’s say you have an idea for an online course. Start by creating a micro-community of the people you plan to sell your course to. Decide on the community guidelines, and then hand-select people you’d like to include.
In the group, share your plans for creating the course. Test your content on the group members, and get their feedback. Once you know what they need, you can create the final course.
You can use your group as an incubator for other products as well. Once you release your course, invite your top students to join the micro-community. Encourage them to give you feedback on your course and seek their feedback as you develop your next product.
You can then create a spin-off community, where all of your students engage with one another, work through the course material together, and answer one another’s questions.
Start building your micro-community
Convinced about the power and promise of micro-communities? If so, your next step is to create one. Here are our tips for getting started:
Decide on your approach. You can either create micro-communities on your own or partner with influencers. Influencers already have an engaged audience, but creating something of your own will make the micro-community feel more substantial.
Invite members. Get the word out about your community. Invite people who will help you create the positive, active environment you envision.
Nurture relationships in your niche community. Make sure to engage with members. Be present and accessible. It’s also a good idea to give them first peeks into new products and services. Make members feel special by giving them exclusive access.
Keep it fun, engaging, empathetic, and purposeful. Don’t use the group for marketing and sales. The focus is building relationships and sharing knowledge.
Get the right community platform. You could use a free platform like social media, but you’ll be building on someone else’s property. If Facebook or LinkedIn suddenly change their algorithm, you could lose access to the community or struggle to get your content in front of members.
Kajabi was designed specifically for knowledge entrepreneurs, so you can host your community, courses, and coaching on one business-building platform.
Best of all, you own your brand. There’s no algorithm you have to battle or pay attention to. Instead, you get a private, branded space for your peeps with no outside influences pulling them away. Members can focus on what matters: connecting with each other and connecting with you.
Explore our new and improved Kajabi Communities, along with our full suite of business-building tools for free for 14 days!