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5 Ways to Harness the Power of Community to Grow Your Business There's strength in numbers -- here's how to use it to your business's advantage.

By Dasha Kroshkina

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We are witnessing a global trend towards self-expression and the growth of a community of creators. There are more than 50 million content creators on Instagram, YouTube and other platforms. The social-media explosion of the last several years has also demonstrated the value of peer-to-peer communication. People want to interact, receive support and motivate each other.

Here are five ways community can become the heart of your product and contribute to specific product metrics.

1. Engagement growth

No matter how great the product or service is, people still want interaction with like-minded people who go through the same experience. Creating a community as a part of your core product can become the trigger that will bring people back to your company because of the opportunity to communicate and share thoughts and emotions. As a result, communication with peers can increase engagement without requiring you to create specific functions and add new features. A community can result in brand loyalty and improved customer experience and motivation.

At StudyFree, where we help students study abroad, we're trying to humanize our brand through community and stories of real people who have already gone through the college-admissions process abroad. We motivate our clients through communication in chats, online events, one-on-one sessions and content created by our peer mentors. Hence, students can receive personalized answers to their questions, share their real experiences with all their ups and downs and enjoy a safe environment for discussions and sharing doubts.

Related: 5 Truths About Employee Engagement That No One Wants to Hear

2. Retention increase

Engagement and retention are inseparably linked. High engagement helps retain customers. Thus, the client will stay with you and continue to use your product.

If you have some unfinished features in the product, the community will help you to cover these gaps through engagement, demonstrating core values. You can also test new features together with the community and come up with the best solutions for your customers.

You can also conduct research to understand what challenges your clients face. Hence, through community, you will help your customers solve their problems.

For instance, our community of peer mentors who studied abroad themselves helps our students stay motivated in the pursuit of their dreams. They share their own personal stories and and show that college admissions are never easy, inspiring students to keep plugging away towards their goals.

Related: Employee Retention: 4 Tips to Help Keep Your Top Talent

3. Increasing lifetime

Your community can be a great source of feedback for maintaining the current product, but community members can also share insights that help create new products. Forward-looking minds, diverse backgrounds and different points of view will combine and result in top-notch solutions and approaches that can help develop innovative products. Community members can remain with the community even after solving their own problems and help you figure out how to transform the product further. It may also happen that the community itself will become an additional product for users.

In our case, we noticed that when students enter universities abroad, it's not the end of the problems, but the beginning. We saw a great need for a SaaS product that provides students with additional support after they're admitted to offer help with relocation, adaptation and subsequent exploration of the first career steps, and we filled that need, increasing the lifetimes of our clients from three to six years.

Related: Here's How to Earn and Keep the Loyalty of Your Customers

4. Organic growth

We live in the era of the creators' economy, where people are ready to consume content that is created by their peers. Hence, it's necessary to put the community at the center of content creation. In this case, you get the most value and a very organic growth of the product through content that meets the requirements of your customers.

For example, we build our product based on our expertise in education abroad. However, now we're growing on a massive scale, which has allowed us to scale the product and create very unique and limited content. It helps not only to promote the brand and company, but also to provide the highest value and increase business margins. UGC (user-generated content) created along the way will hugely benefit community members, further enhancing brand recognition.

5. Community will increase brand loyalty

Community members are customers who became loyal fans. They become your brand ambassadors ready to spread positive news about your company and advocate for your company's mission and values.

A community-based approach in business is still quite a novel trend. If you manage to understand how to make the community an integral part of your product, it will contribute to your metrics and become a great resource of insights and ideas that will move your business forward.

Dasha Kroshkina

CEO & Founder of StudyFree

Dasha Kroshkina is an entrepreneur who makes international opportunities available for everyone in the world. She participated in the Techstars NYC 2020 program, is a Seedstars Global winner and is a McKinsey Next Generation Women Leaders award winner.

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