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5 Examples Your Brand Can Follow to Build an Online Community If you're feeling lonely while you toil out there on the web, take some lessons from these vibrant websites. What they did, you can do.

By Derek Miller Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Digital breakthroughs are making it increasingly easy for brands to communicate directly with end users. To encourage two-way communication, many brands are going to social media to talk directly with users.

However, if your brand wants to diversify its communication strategy, build a virtual community. Here are five examples of strategies for building a powerful branded community from successful digital communities.

1. Reddit. Reddit is one of the most powerful communities on the Internet, in large part because it empowers and leverages its users. It provides you with the opportunity to build and scale your community by utilizing trusted users.

Related: Three Tips for Building an Online Community

Individuals who engage with the site and follow the guidelines are able to grow their influence in the community. They can even earn moderator capabilities and the right to dictate the brand's voice. With roughly 7,500 sub-categories, moderated by multiple users, Reddit has been able to exponentially scale.

2. Doug. People are naturally competitive and love to be recognized for their time and effort. Doug understands that and aims to reward users for participating and engaging with the brand. Users are awarded points for submitting, commenting and sharing content.

Doug uses a leader board to rank users based on participation points they've earned. The users will eventually engage in competitions, receive rewards and earn badges among other incentives. Consider if using incentives will encourage participation with your brand.

3. Fark. One of the more difficult tasks when building an online community is keeping the message relevant. While building a large, engaged community is great, if you do not stay in line with the brand's voice, your message will be lost.

Fark is a great example of a community that has been able to maintain a cohesive identity as it's grown. With the slogan "It's not news, it's Fark," it has gone on to build a unique and niched community unlike any other.

Related: Are You Building Online Customer Communities?

4. ChaCha. Successful communities rely on two-way interactions, so be sure you are talking with, and not at, your community.

One of the best ways to achieve this is with an open forum, or question/answer, element. Providing the opportunity for questions and answers build brand credibility.

Sites like ChaCha have even built an entire brand around this concept. It humanizes your brand and allows direct participation with end users. In addition, it can minimize remorse and move users through the conversion process.

5. Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed has built an incubator community that relies on user generated content. Allowing a platform for users to contribute original content to the brand minimizes the time and money Buzzfeed has to spend on generating content internally.

How can Buzzfeed do this? Mainly, people care deeply about what they create, especially true when their name is attached and could be seen by millions.

Even without a massive following, your brand can still utilize user generated content to minimize the internal work that goes into creating content. Allow community members to submit original content to help build and scale your brand.

One-way communication between brands and users is an outdated digital strategy. People have opinions and questions they want heard. If you are not providing a platform to fulfill this communication need, you can bet a competitor is. If your brand is considering building a digital community, then you need to take heed of the proven tips above.

Related: Online Community Expert Margaret Levine Young

Derek Miller

Content Marketing and Social Media Strategist

Derek Miller is a content marketing consultant for CopyPress. He has the startup bug and loves working in the fast-paced world of online marketing. In his spare time he is building a website for fantasy sports fans and players to share and find advice.

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