Community is the heart and soul of a marketplace, even though it’s probably not the first thing that comes to people’s heads when starting a marketplace. In the early stages of development, many entrepreneurs focus on developing business and marketing strategies, leaving community development as something that can be done later on.
Community in a marketplace means buyers and sellers who are connected because of your online platform. For your business to make enough revenue, you need to generate transactions on your online platform — which comes from the community. So how do you build a robust community base for your marketplace?
Rule #1: Know your audience
Before anything else, you need to ask yourself this question: who are going to be the members of your marketplace? It’s absolutely crucial to define your demographic audience because you’re proposing a solution to their problems.
Do you think they would benefit from your marketplace? And why do you think they should choose your marketplace than others? These are some good questions that you need to tackle in order to build the right type of community.
It’s a misconception that in order to succeed, you need to attract as much traffic as possible, without any exclusions. Especially in the early stages of development, it’s unwise to approach everyone because in actuality, the more narrow your audience, the higher the chances that you will succeed. Why is that the case? Because a targeted audience can understand you better and vice versa. You’ll have more time to focus on them and to explain to them what you’re all about.
Like in any type of relationships, having two-way communication is important to create a dynamic ecosystem in your marketplace community. Once you have people signed up on your website, ask for their feedback on how you can continually improve the user experience. The first batch in the community needs to be solid to set an example to future members once your marketplace grows.
Rule #2: Use the right tools
Once you’ve defined your target audience, how are you going to reach out to them? You are at an advantage because the internet makes it easier to connect people instantly. Taking advantage of social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and having social media integration in your marketplace platform is a must.
Creating an engaging blog and having subscription tools where people can sign up for newsletters is one way to build a robust mailing list. Make sure all of your pages are SEO optimized so that people who are looking for a marketplace like yours will be able to find it. All of Arcadier’s solutions are equipped with these tools to ensure you’re reaching your target audience.
Rule #3: Establish the tone and voice
If your marketplace was a person, what kind of personality would it have? This is a good question to ask yourself as you’re defining your target community. You can be professional or casual in introducing your marketplace’s image. But whatever it is, it should be good enough to guide your users and to maintain unity in the marketplace.
Think about the relationship that you would have with your community. Are you a mentor? A friend? Or business partner? Your voice reflects your personality trait when you communicate with your audience. Follow this simple formula from Buffer to set the tone and voice for your marketplace:
Brainstorm adjectives that describe your brand and how you want to communicate and engage with your community. For each adjective that you think about, write examples and rationales for how this might look as you’re reaching out to your community.
Rule #4: Be in charge
It doesn’t matter whether your marketplace has a few or thousands of users signed up — someone needs to be in charge. Especially in the beginning, you need to be the one who sets the right tone and voice. It’ll be easier in the early stages of development, because once you’ve reached the critical mass, your marketplace would have a life of its own.
As a marketplace operator, you facilitate the initial engagement between merchants and customers. To avoid chaos later on, know your roles as a middleman and take the lead in helping your community to thrive. Arcadier has come up with a set of tools that allows you to moderate, customise and communicate easily on your platforms.
As you grow, make sure to align your team’s values with the culture of the marketplace. To build a successful community, Airbnb hires employees who enjoy connecting with people, who loves local culture and interacting with locals. Whoever you appoint to interact with your users has to think like them.
To summarise, no two marketplaces are the same, and there’s always flexibility when it comes to building a lively marketplace community. Following standard practices and maximizing the use of tools on your marketplace platform can save you a lot of time and efforts so you can focus on other things.
Now that you have your loyal community, how can you be sure that they will conduct repeat transactions on your marketplace? Let’s find out in the next chapter.