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How to make the most of an online community

Advice // 05.10.2017


Marketing is an ever-changing, always-evolving necessity for any business, and your online presence is now more important than ever, especially in the wedding industry.

But this infinite, intangible digital resource can seem daunting, expensive, and overwhelming. That's exactly why online communities are such a beneficial resource for both big and small businesses.

Joining an online community is one of the best ways to grow your business and generate new leads.

Here you will learn how to find the right group, engage with other businesses, and use the tools and opportunities to grow your wedding business and book more brides!

How to find the right group

There are thousands of different online communities in every industry, ranging from simple Facebook Groups to large national organizations with hundreds of local chapters.  

1. When looking to find your perfect group, make sure it is specific to your industry. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you may not find the best results from a large community of photographers, specializing in everything from families to commercial. Although talented and wonderful businesses, these people might not be the best ones to help you with advice, referrals, and leads.

Instead, spend some time looking at those businesses in your specific industry who are active in the community, and notice what groups they are supporting. Also look for groups that have members you think you could benefit from, and would be able to share referrals with.

The most successful online communities have members that are active and giving back.

2. Does the group Mission Statement line up with your values and goals? Every online community should have a clear Mission Statement that outlines to ultimate goal(s) of the group. Here is an example of a clear mission statement for The Forever Bride Association; “We believe in creating a beautiful and simple experience for brides to find the best local wedding businesses.” This clearly states what the group's ultimate goal is, to help brides find the best wedding vendors in that area. So, if you are a wedding vendor in the Minnesota area wanting to be seen by more brides, this might be the perfect group for you!

For more information about joining The Forever Bride Association, CLICK HERE

3. You will never be able to 100% foresee how well a group or community will work for you until you TRY IT! Each business will have a different experience based on a variety of variables. Always give a new opportunity at least a year, and make sure you are tracking the results; such as: how many leads acquired, how many new relationships formed, how much additional exposure you gained from it. Like all things in life, your outcome is directly related to your input.

How to engage with other businesses

Once you have decided to join an online community, jump right in! Make a splash! The purpose of your investment is to get something out of it, so do the work!

1. Announce on social media that you are now a proud member of XYZ Group, and share the group’s emblem or “as seen on” badge. This shows your followers & potential customers that you are active & investing in your business.

“If YOU don't invest in your business, why should your customers?”

2. If there is a forum or community page, post a welcome note introducing yourself & your business, and why you are excited to be the newest member! Include a link to your website and your social media (only one form of social media, don’t over-share)

3. Next, find a select few business who you think would be a great mutual connection. Send them a direct email or even better, a phone call! Quickly introduce yourself & let them know you are both part of the same community, and that you are interested in networking to help each other grow. Meeting for a coffee is a lovely way to get to know someone.

(helpful hint: if you ask THEM to coffee, you should pay!)

How to use tools and opportunities

1. Put your best foot forward: take the time to make sure your brand is well represented, with quality images and a complete listing. If available, make sure you add as many positive reviews as possible. Not only is this important to potential customers, but search engines also recognize reviews as valuable information when ranking websites and businesses. Learn more about how to create a successful online listing HERE.

2. Share your work: in many online communities, there are opportunities to showcase your work, usually at no additional cost! Submit a wedding or styled shoot, write a blog, or tell everyone about an upcoming event! Take the time to submit often; there’s nothing wrong with showing off a little! Make sure to give credit to all participating businesses.

3. Support the group: successful groups only work if you do! Tell others about your experience & how it has helped you. Everyone will benefit as the community grows. “A rising tide lifts all ships.”

4. Be active, consistent: Visit the online forums regularly, and see how you can serve others, whether it be with referrals, your services, or just some helpful advice.

5 Reasons Why You Should Join an Online Community >>

Comments & Reviews

Jeff Conner, said on
So excited to contribute to the Forever Bride community!
Marie Raley, said on
Forever Bride really likes to connect great vendors and provide outlets for partnering and making connections. The wedding and events industry is so enormous it is hard to know where to start with networking. I haven't utilized the directory as much as I could and I'm looking forward to meeting more vendors as the time goes by.
Stacey Pitman, said on
I had my wedding photography printed in the Forever Bride booklet and was able to book an amazing wedding, that has led to other referrals as well! www.plaidpoppyco.com
Katelyn Kelly, said on
I love the networking that comes along with the membership! It is a great place for myself and my clients to get inspiration and I love collaborating with other members for Open Houses and Photo shoots! <3
Amanda Hammarstedt, said on
Being a part of Forever Bride is not only great for networking in the community, it's the perfect place to bounce ideas off other creatives and collaborate on dreams! It brings a sense of community and allows me to expand my visions beyond what I could accomplish on my own.
Sarah Schrimpf, said on
Our store, Cut Above Home, is new to Forever Bride, but we are so excited to make the most of the bridal community! I met with Ashley from Forever Bride and her marketing knowledge alone was extremely helpful! Can't wait to make more connections with this great group!
Jaime, said on
I coordinated a styled shoot in February and since I was a newer member to Forever Bride I utilized that as an opportunity to meet/try out new vendors. The vendors that I worked with on that styled shoot were some of the best and are now on my Preferred Vendor List that I provide to all of my clients! Definitely love a community feel over competition; we all help each other grow and make beautiful weddings happen!
Jon Li, said on
Forever Bride has helped us connect and network with other fellow vendors through social/educational events and the Forever Bride Market.
Angie Larson, said on
I have enjoyed getting to become friendors with many wedding vendors in the industry. To encourage, support and motivate each other has provided amazing results as far as business but great bonds what will last a lifetime!
Stephanie Fleek, said on
I've made some great industry friends and partners! The wedding industry is the best.
Emily Harris, said on
I am new to forever bride and am excited to try something new to promote my small business. There is so much work you can put into promoting yourself in the online community it sometimes feels like a game. One major thing I've learned throug forever bride is that reaching out to brides/wedding event planners and such and offering to share with them who you are, what you do and maybe a discount code is a great way to put yourself out there! :-)
Jillian Cram, said on
Being a part of Forever Bride has allowed me to meet and learn from other vendors in the industry that have more experience! I've learned so many valuable lessons from fellow vendors that have helped me grow my business!
Samantha Virchow, said on
I have been working with Forever Bride since the start! It has been more than a great experience! The relationship inspired our company to start a line of Plastic Wedding Invitations and stationary. It's a great place to network and the whole Forever Bride team makes you feel like you are just getting together with friends to chat and help each other grow our businesses.
Robyn Smith, said on
Working with Forever Bride has been like working with a friend. Forever Bride has helpful resources for clients and vendor and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing friends! Thank you for everything you have done for us!
Kathryn McNamara, said on
Being part of the Forever Bride community had led us not only into clients but also in connection with many local vendor relationships. Such a strong community and we are glad to be a part of it.
Ashley Otte, said on
Our business has been influenced so positively from the Forever Bride community. Creating new and fun relationships with other vendors is amazing, plus we have received contacts from potential clients this way as well. Thanks :) PLUS we love Forever Bride!
Sarah Zimmerman, said on
Being members of the Forever Bride community has helped our business substantially. Not only are we working with couples that may not have seen us in the first place, we are able to connect with so many amazing vendors.
Laine Rasmussen, said on
My connections with vendors alone in the Twin Cities have increased, and I have met so many new companies that I wouldn't think to be a 'wedding' vendor and I love it. Great community to be a part of, and a way to continuously push yourself knowing there are a lot of other people in your same shoes.
Christina Erickson, said on
Sooo who from Forever Bride wants to grab coffee with me? YAY YAY YAY. And yeah OKAY, it's on me
Mariah Talbot, said on
I am new to forever bride but I can already see how it is great for not only connecting me with future clients but also other vendors. I am excited to see what the future has in store together with Forever Bride. And also the sense of pride I feel to be apart of something like forever bride. Pretty cool

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