Internet and affiliate marketing have always been about making connections and building a community out of those connections. Online communities bring together like minded consumers and give them a forum to freely discuss their favorite topics. For affiliate partners, building an online community is inexpensive, and extremely effective, marketing tool that can drive traffic and increase revenues.

Defining Online Communities

Before the dawn of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, online communities were generally limited to forums. Forums are still a big part of Internet life for many people and shouldn’t be overlooked for sexier flavors of the month. There’s plenty of online communities that have outlasted massive social networking sites like MySpace and Friendster. That said, forums are just a part of the community equation these days.

Online communities today include diverse groups such as Twitter followers, Facebook friends and LinkedIn Connections. While you may have some overlap amongst these groups, each one is a separate community with its own personality and quirks. And each one of these communities provides unique marketing and promotional opportunities.

Benefits for Affiliates

Building online communities is extremely beneficial for affiliates because they bring your best players/customers together under one roof. Anyone who cares enough about your content or products to post on your forums, follow your Tweets, or visit your Facebook page is someone who is likely driving revenue your way. Communities let you address this valuable demographic directly, and on your terms.

Besides opening a clear channel of communication to players, communities also have the benefit of being extremely affordable. Setting up online forums is extremely affordable for affiliate partners of all sizes. The biggest expense will likely be the time you spend building and nurturing your community. Social media sites are usually free, and premium accounts are very affordable.

Community Based Marketing

Trust is a serious matter on the Internet, especially in the iGaming world. In an industry where not everyone operates above board, players rely on each other and advocacy sites to help level the playing field. That’s why online communities carry such weight on the Internet.

Customers trust recommendations from other Internet users far more than they trust online ads. Building up an online community around your brand helps establish your brand as a credible site to work with.

Just remember not to fiddle around with phony postings and reviews. Your customers, and Google algorithms, are not dumb; they’ll sniff out these fakes in a hurry. And why bother faking it in the first place? If your products and content are good, people will want to tell other people how great they are on their own. That’s the value of building a community.

Give Back Value

We know that building an online community provides serious value to affiliate partners, but what’s in it for the customers? Web masters need to keep their communities engaged and interested by offering up something valuable in exchange for participation. Value propositions for online communities could include:

  • Prizes for community members with the most posts.
  • Twitter only bonus codes and promotions.
  • Opportunities to become forum moderators.
  • Like Us on Facebook contests to harvest new Facebook friends.

Remember, every community member is now, for practical purposes, a member of your marketing team. So give them lots of opportunities to share your content with other members of their social networks.

Recommended reading: How To Measure The ROI of Social Media Marketing For Affiliates

Think Long Term

Rome wasn’t built in a day and online communities don’t get built overnight. Publishers should look at building up a community as a long term play. Social media isn’t going away and it’s likely to become a very big element of the affiliate marketing and igaming industries in the near future.

Affiliate partners should take time to build their online communities the right way, even if the payoff doesn’t come right away. Over time, your community members will help spread your content across the web while driving traffic and revenue to your affiliate sites.

What are your tips and tricks for building up online communities? Share them on our General Discussion Forum.

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