Remember when going to buy an auto part meant driving a couple of miles, going into a store–and hanging out for a few minutes? You’d meet other weekend mechanics, teens and old-timers, and you’d chat (brag) about what you were building, ask a question, and even show a picture or two? That’s how small businesses used to operate. They were the local hangout–the gathering place for people who had something in common.
People still need a place to go. What’s changed is that much of the gathering happens online.
They still need to hang out with their “tribe” and ask questions, brag, show pictures, and enjoy getting to know the newbies. You can buy so much online–knitting supplies, spices, building supplies…you name it–but people still have a need to connect. So give them a place to do just that.
If you know how to do it right, your blog, and your website could be that gathering place.
How do you create an online hangout?
Keep a friendly tone. Welcome comments.
Write an article for your website or a blog post about one of your customers–their question, or something cool they did with your product that’s unique.
Ask a question or take a poll.
Answer questions–and solicit them.
Make your comment area easy to access–and encourage people to post and talk to each other.
Consider adding a forum.
Post pictures–your customers, their kid’s birthday pics, a charity event your company participated in–show you welcome community involvement.
Even if you’re an internet based small business, you still have clients who identify with you, your products and/or services. Give them a friendly place to come, chat, ask questions, and hang out.