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  Community Importance?
I have been told that I need community on my site. Why is it so important to have community when I already offer articles and a resource area on my site?

That is an excellent question and we thank you for posing it. While they have been in existence for some time, online communities are still a very new concept to a lot of people.

It is great that you offer a content-rich site. That in itself is important in order to attract your visitors. While content is crucial, community adds to it by enhancing content with exchange. Community also provides a means to to promote that content, as well as creating new material produced by members. All of that - especially exchange and member-generated content - helps to retain your visitors. Community provides a site with some of the following:

1) Interactivity: Individuals are able to share their opinions about the content presented on the site, and in turn, are able to exchange with others. This provides the site with additional resources to complement and enhance the information already present.

2) Promotion: Community is an excellent way to promote features of the site and services sold, as they can be directed into a conversation-based on the topic. This provides an additional means to direct members to the site features and encourage members to utilize those features.

3) Visitor Retention and Loyalty: Like any form of community, an online community provides a sense of belonging and a reason to bond with others. Once bonds are formed and people see the benefit of the exchange that a community can provide, they will return. They tend to remain loyal to the brand, site and the community at large.

4) Sales Support and Generation: Community can serve as a sales support mechanism, where visitors can gain information regarding the different services/products available. Community also provides a means for other visitors to share their experience with your services/products, thus promoting them, which in turn can lead to new sales.

For further information on online community, please do feel free to visit some of these past question and answers on the site:

What Makes A Successful Community?

Turning Visits into Participation?

Building a Business Case for Community?

If you have further questions regarding community, please do not hesitate to let us know. We will be happy to provide further information.

- Jon Nix and Pam Thomas
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