One of the best ways to stack value when it comes to selling your online course or coaching program is to have an online community for your students.
More often than not, people will make a buying decision based not only on the content of the course but on the amount of support and accountability they will be provided.
“People join for the product but stay for the community.”
There is always a big advantage for offering a community component to your courses in order to keep your students engaged and also to provide support, encouragement, and collaboration opportunities.
If you are thinking about creating an opportunity for your course or membership site, you’ll have a number of options, but the two most common choices will be a Facebook group or a forum.
Now I can probably say with 100% confidence that you are already a part of a Facebook group (probably more than ONE) or some type of online forum.
Both forums and Facebook groups provide a sense of community, culture, and camaraderie that takes the experience of learning to a new level.
Communities are awesome for being able to communicate with your students who in turn have a safety net of like-minded people they can talk to and confide in to help them all achieve a common goal.
And if you ask any successful course creator, a vast majority of them will tell you that community is often the key to a successful online business.
So, which one should you choose…
A Facebook group or a forum?
Let’s talk about it below.
Facebook Group vs. Online Forum.
option 01. Facebook group.
The easiest way to create an online community for your course is to set up a Facebook group. It’s free, it’s easy to launch and it’s a great way to service your students from a platform they are more than likely already on.
Plus, a BIG, BIG benefit to creating Facebook groups is that the majority of your students will already be checking in on Facebook on a daily basis.
Most people have the Facebook app on their phone or tablet, which makes it easy for them to stay in the loop on what’s going on, including being able to see the instant notifications that get sent out whenever you create a new post.
If you are thinking about convenience for both you and your students, Facebook is a no-brainer!
So, here is a list of reasons why you’d want to use Facebook to grow your online course community
- Most people have an existing account
- Many people will log in daily or at least weekly
- Fb groups are simple to set up
- It can be easier to create engagement
- Facebook groups is something everyone is familiar with
- User apps that make it easy to access your group from a phone or tablet
- Can receive instant notifications of posts and responses
- You do not control facebook therefore you are not in control of your FB group.
- Playing by Facebook’s rules, which can be changed any time
- Need a personal FB profile to create a group
- The format makes it difficult to search for and categorize topics
- Easy for content (older posts) to get lost in the feed
- Easy to get distracted by all of the other stuff competing for our attention.
- Offsite and away from your course hub making it one more thing your students have to remember to do.
- No automated access – members need to be approved or removed manually or you need a tool like Group Leads
option 02. forum.
If Facebook is a no-go for you, and you are leaning toward setting up a forum, one of the major benefits of a forum is that it keeps your students on your site, which will help them to focus on and consume more of your content.
You don’t have to compete with other pages, profiles, and ads. The focus is on your community and your course.
Also, with a forum, you have more control of the look, feel and functionality of your community and everything is specific to your brand.
You can categorize and structure your content or posts in a way that makes it easier for your students to search, filter, and find what they need.
Forums are also more member-friendly. Your students can fill out their personal profile, usually with the ability to add a signature, tagline, and website to the bottom of their posts too – which is great for ‘promoting yet not promoting’ their own brand to other members.
Here are a few more reasons to consider a Forum:
- The focus is on your brand not on Facebook’s
- Keeps your students on your course hub for better integration
- Easy to categorize and search for content, including announcements, discussion threads, and older posts
- Provide advanced features that make it easier to customize the functionality of your forum.
- Members can focus on the course content, more specifically the discussions going on within the forum around your course topics
- Customizable profiles (i.e. can add signatures, email address, links, etc. for passive promotion)
- Automated access – you do not have to manually approve or remove students. Forum access will typically be controlled by your membership or LMS plugin so when someone signs up they automatically get access to the forum. If they cancel or become inactive, they automatically lose access to the course content and the forum.
- More complicated to set up, takes tech knowledge, and many times to set up a good forum you have to invest in a forum plugin or tech tool
- Students need to get into the “habit” of constantly logging in to yet (you have to be diligent reminding your students of the benefits of your forum during the onboarding process and reminding students to use the forum)
- If students are new to forums, it may feel foreign to them.
- You have to deal with tech issues, for the student and you are a moderator
- Can be difficult to create engagement and buzz
- Need lots of students to create an “active” atmosphere
So, a forum, while it sounds ideal, is not always the easy solution. In fact, with the money and time investment, creating a forum for your online course is something you’ll need to be 100% committed to as it will take a lot of work to get your students using it.
Still not sure which one is right for you?
01. Are you looking for quick and easy or control and functionality? If you’re looking for quick and easy engagement go for a Facebook group, if you’re looking for a higher level of functionality and focus on your course, go for the forum.
02. Is your community component an integral part of your course? And by having this component will it exponentially increase the success your students have with your course? (i.e more for general questions and support than an integral part of your product)? If so, a forum is your best bet.
03. Are you scared of the tech and unwilling (or able) to invest in hiring someone to set up and maintain your community? Go for the Facebook group.
04. Is the community a major selling point? If so, a forum is the go-to here.
When it comes to making your final decision, sometimes it’s easier to let your audience be the final judge on whether a forum or a Facebook group is the right choice.
You might think a Facebook group is the way to go, but if your students aren’t on Facebook or they tell you they’d prefer to engage and have more detailed discussions inside of an online forum, make sure to take the needs of your student’s into account too.
At the end of the day, choose what feels right for you. Whichever one you end up choosing, the most important thing is to actually have that community component as a tool that can help your students reach their desired outcome!
If you’re thinking of creating your own passive income-generating online course, be sure to check out additional resources at the bottom of this page. You can also join us inside of the FREE WomanpreneuHER FB Group for more tutorials, tips, and training on how to create 6-figure success with online courses and digital products.
Here’s to your 6-figure future!
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