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Where to Find Communities Online
For online merchants, joining online communities is one of the most helpful ways to gain and offer support to other merchants who are experiencing, or have experienced, the exact same challenges that every online merchant goes through when they are launching or maintaining their business. Having resources to go to for advice, helpful hints or tips, or just to go and vent are invaluable to anyone who is a little stuck or lost and needs some guidance. This article is a guide on how to find support and communities for merchants online, the differences in culture and content for each one, and how to get and give the most within these communities.
The best place to start for merchants is to find communities on formats or platforms on which they are already familiar. Facebook has hundreds of groups exclusively for merchants. Some groups are broader and are open to merchants who sell through any platform and some groups are exclusively for sellers using specific apps or platforms. These communities are great for learning about new strategies or techniques to market your products or business, to share or receive tips and advice, and to engage with other sellers and network.
There are several Shopify Facebook groups for merchants at every experience level. These groups are also especially helpful for beginners and newbies. Some even offer tutorials to help new merchants every step of the way. These groups also come in all sizes, some are more close-knit and specialized while other are larger and cover more broad issues. There are also public and private groups, but often all it takes to join a private group is to send in a request to join.
Slack groups are another great place for merchant communities. Slack is a communication hub that functions through larger group threads (or channels) where many people can collaborate and discuss topics easily. Slack also allows users to send direct messages to other users so it’s easy to reach out to individuals for clarification or help without conversing on a public channel.
Shopify’s Slack is specially tailored to simplify their workflow and to create open channels of communication between employees and management.
Reddit is an online platform that hosts thousands of subreddits. Subreddits are feeds for specific topics or interests where users can ask questions, talk to other users, post pictures or videos, or share guides and advice. The Shopify subreddit has over 12 thousand subscribers that post new content daily. Reddit is excellent for asking for advice from other merchants without the background noise or personal connection of Facebook groups. Subreddits for merchants are more centralized and orderly because they’re supervised by knowledgeable moderators.
Reddit’s specialized content is great for beginners who are just starting out as well as experienced merchants who are looking for help with a specific issue. Reddit is also a great platform for anyone to familiarize themselves with the community because it does not require any engagement; users can read through posts without having to say anything or interact, although the community is very welcoming to all newcomers and encourage engagement on posts.
Quora is a question and answer website on which users can ask questions directly into an informed community. For online merchants, Quora is very easy to use because so many common questions have already been answered by the community and often in many different ways for easy comparison and variety of solutions. Contributors are encouraged to cite their sources for authenticity, and many are able to back up their answers with experience.
Users can find topics they’re interested in by navigating through the search bar to various communities or topics. Signing up for membership on Quora is very simple and straight forward so merchants can begin to learn and interact with the platform right away.
Many know LinkedIn only as a networking site but few know how useful it is as an online community. On LinkedIn, merchants can follow payment sites like Payflic or Shopify for new information and content directly from the providers. Businesses often post blogs or tips specifically to help merchants use their product and to increase understanding about how their platforms are structured and why they’re structured that way.
LinkedIn also offers a messaging service for users to directly message businesses or other merchants to ask for advice or introductions to connections. Using LinkedIn strategically can help to connect you with influencers, designers, and other merchants who can help you develop your business professionally. Having a LinkedIn for yourself can also increase your credibility as a merchant and business owner and helps potential customers to connect to you.
Being a part of an online community is a wonderful and cost-effective way to get advice, build relationships, and develop your business with the help of other merchants. Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit (as well as many others) are a great way to start networking, advertising, and building your business using tools and features you’re already familiar with.