How to build an online community with the tree method

By The IFTTT Team

February 02, 2024

  • Deciding you want to build an online community, even if you aren't sure where to start, is a big leap in your journey to building a thriving online community. But fear not, because in this article, we will provide you with the best practices and tips to help you get started and ensure the success of your online community.

    From defining your community's purpose and values to creating engaging content and fostering meaningful interactions, we've got you covered. We'll also go over ways and means to automate your online community creation, with free tools such as our automation service IFTTT. So, let's dive in and discover how to build an online community that will not only connect people but also create a space where they can learn, share, and grow together.

    Why should I make an online community?


    Figuring out why you want to create an online community has lots of factors, but it is important to nail down the reason. Do you want to promote a product? Get more views on YouTube? Become an influencer, or maybe a political contender?

    Luckily for you, creating an online community can serve various purposes, such as building brand loyalty, establishing thought leadership, or providing a platform for like-minded individuals to connect and share ideas. Whatever your reason may be, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of your goals and objectives before diving into the process of building an online community. This will not only help you stay focused but also enable you to tailor your strategies and tactics accordingly.

    So, take some time to reflect on why you want to create an online community and how it aligns with your overall objectives. Let's go over some of the benefits you can reap when building an online community:

    Firstly, it allows you to establish a strong sense of brand loyalty among your audience. By creating a space where people can connect and engage with each other, you are fostering a sense of belonging and community around your brand. This can lead to increased customer retention and advocacy.

    Additionally, building an online community can help you establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. By sharing valuable content and facilitating meaningful discussions, you can position yourself as an expert and gain credibility among your peers and target audience.

    Finally, an online community provides a platform for like-minded individuals to connect and share ideas. This can lead to valuable collaborations, partnerships, and even new business opportunities. So, whether you are looking to build brand loyalty, establish thought leadership, or foster collaboration, creating an online community is a powerful strategy to achieve your goals.

    Are online communities difficult to grow?

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    Growing online communities can be both challenging and rewarding. The difficulty of growing an online community depends on various factors, including the niche or topic of the community, the level of competition, the quality of content and engagement, and the strategies used for community building.

    When it comes to growing an online community, one important factor to consider is the level of competition. If you are entering a niche that already has established communities, it may be more challenging to attract members and stand out from the crowd. However, this doesn't mean it's impossible. By offering unique value, creating engaging content, and fostering meaningful interactions, you can differentiate your community and attract a dedicated audience.

    Additionally, utilizing effective marketing strategies, such as social media promotion and collaborations with influencers, can help you reach a wider audience and accelerate the growth of your online community. So, while growing an online community may have its challenges, with the right strategies and dedication, it is definitely achievable.

    The Tree Method


    The Tree Method is a smart approach to building and nurturing an online community. It involves three key steps: planting the seed, cultivating growth, and branching out.

    In the first step, you plant the seed by defining your community's purpose and values, setting clear goals, and creating a welcoming environment. Second, you cultivate growth by creating engaging content, fostering meaningful interactions, and providing value to your community members. Third and finally, you branch out by expanding your community's reach through marketing strategies, collaborations, and partnerships.

    By following the Tree Method, you can build a strong and thriving online community that will connect people, foster collaboration, and help them learn and grow together. You will be able to define the most important components to your journey, establishing a strong foundation before diving into the nitty gritty of it all.

    Defining your community purpose

    Defining your community's purpose is a crucial step in building an online community. It sets the tone and direction for your community and helps attract the right audience. Your community purpose should align with your overall objectives and provide value to your members. Whether it's to share knowledge, provide support, or foster networking opportunities, clearly defining your community purpose will guide your content creation, engagement strategies, and community growth efforts. So take the time to reflect on what you want your community to achieve and how it will benefit your members.

    Creating content

    Creating content is a crucial aspect of building an online community. It is through your content that you will attract and engage your community members. When creating content, it is important to consider the interests and needs of your target audience. Provide valuable information, insights, and resources that are relevant to your community's purpose. Use a variety of formats such as blog posts, videos, podcasts, and infographics to cater to different preferences. Additionally, encourage community members to contribute their own content, fostering a sense of ownership and collaboration within the community. Remember, high-quality and consistent content is key to keeping your community engaged and coming back for more.

    Branching out and expanding

    Building an online community requires continuous effort and dedication. It's not something that happens overnight. You need to consistently engage with your community members, provide valuable content, and foster meaningful interactions. By investing time and energy into your online community, you can create a space where people feel connected, supported, and inspired. So, don't be afraid to put in the work and watch your online community thrive.

    Types of online communities


    Here are some common types of online communities:

    Discussion Forums: Platforms like Reddit, Quora, and specialized forums where users discuss specific topics, ask questions, and share information.

    Social Media Communities: Groups on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter where users with common interests connect, share content, and engage in discussions.

    Interest-Based Communities: Communities centered around specific hobbies, interests, or activities, such as gaming communities, photography forums, or DIY groups.

    Professional Networks: Platforms like LinkedIn where professionals connect, share industry insights, job opportunities, and discuss relevant topics.

    Support Groups: Communities that provide emotional support and information for individuals facing similar challenges, such as health-related forums or recovery groups.

    Marketplace Communities: Platforms like Etsy or eBay where sellers and buyers connect to trade goods or services.

    Fan Communities: Groups dedicated to a specific fandom, such as fan forums for TV shows, movies, books, or celebrities.

    Local Communities: Platforms connecting people based on geographical location, allowing them to discuss local events, issues, or share recommendations.

    Which communities are most profitable?

    It's hard to put a price on an online community, because even the most niche passion projects can earn a ton of money if done right. However, time after time, these are the best opportunities if making money is your primary objective:

    Business and Entrepreneurial Communities:

    Communities focused on business, startups, and entrepreneurship may attract professionals and provide opportunities for networking, partnerships, and business growth.

    E-commerce and Marketplace Communities:

    Platforms where sellers and buyers connect can generate revenue through transaction fees, premium memberships, or sponsored listings.

    Educational Platforms:

    Online learning communities that offer courses, workshops, or certifications may generate revenue through course fees or subscription models.

    Subscription-Based Communities:

    Platforms that offer exclusive content, discussions, or perks for paying members can create a recurring revenue stream.

    Professional Networking Platforms:

    Communities catering to specific industries or professions may offer premium memberships with additional features or benefits.

    What if I want to build my community faster? Try automation!

    Building an online community can be a time-consuming and challenging process, especially if you're starting from scratch. However, there are tools and strategies available that can make the process easier and more efficient. One such tool is automation. By automating certain tasks, such as content scheduling, social media posting, and member onboarding, you can save time and streamline your community-building efforts.

    Automation tools like IFTTT can help you automate repetitive tasks and free up your time to focus on creating valuable content and engaging with your community members. So, if you want to build your online community more easily, consider incorporating automation into your strategy.

    Automating an online community with IFTTT

    IFTTT (If This Then That) is our popular free automation tool that allows you to connect over 800 different apps and services to create automated workflows. Here are some general ideas on how you might use IFTTT to automate certain tasks within an online community:

    Social media integrations: Automatically share new community posts or updates on social media platforms when certain criteria are met. For example, you can create an applet (pre-made automation) that shares a link to a new forum post on Twitter or Facebook.

    Content aggregation: Aggregate content from various sources into your community. For instance, you can set up an applet to automatically post relevant news articles or blog posts from an RSS feed to your community.

    Notification alerts: Receive notifications for important community events. For example, you can set up an applet to send you an email or push notification when a new member joins the community or when a specific keyword is mentioned.

    Cross-platform posting: If your community spans multiple platforms (e.g., forums, social media, chat), you can use IFTTT to cross-post content. For instance, automatically share forum threads to a designated Slack channel.

    Member engagement: Encourage member engagement by automating welcome messages to new members or sending reminders about upcoming events or discussions.

    Keeping reading to learn more about IFTTT, and hear our top Applets for community building.

    What is IFTTT?

    IFTTT is our free web-based service and mobile app designed to boost productivity by automating tasks. It works by creating connections between over 800 popular apps and services, allowing them to work together seamlessly.

    The basic idea behind IFTTT is to create "applets" or sets of instructions that trigger when certain conditions are met. This can be turning on the lights automatically when you enter your house, for example.

    Founded in 2011, IFTTT has been used by over 25 million individuals to automate both business and home tasks, saving time and increasing efficiency. It's commonly used to connect disparate services and systems, making all products and services work well together in a way that instills user confidence. Best of all, it's free and only takes a couple of minutes to set up.

    Join IFTTT today for free and see for yourself why we are the most trusted automation platform by content creators worldwide.'

    Top community building Applets with IFTTT

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    IFTTT Automation Assistant GPT

    With the IFTTT Automation Assistant GPT, ChatGPT Plus users can access over 900 digital tools inside the ChatGPT interface. This means you can set up any automation task you can imagine without coding experience.

    All you need to do is connect them with IFTTT and you can trigger actions to any of the services you have authorized in IFTTT.

    Send yourself an email for new Google Forms responses

    This Applet is an excellent choice when people need to give feedback on what you are up to. With a few clicks, you can get customized email notifications for new Google Form responses so that you can quickly view key information submitted and take next steps.

    Automatically post on Twitter and your Facebook Page when you start a Twitch stream

    Give the people what they want: make sure your social media followers never miss a stream. This Applet will automatically post this message on Twitter and your official Facebook Page when you start a stream: "I'm now streaming on Twitch! Playing [Game name]" + a link to your Twitch channel

    To enable these Applets and millions more, (yes millions), try IFTTT today for free.