Creating a private online community space has never been easier. It is often an affordable or totally free way for businesses to connect with loyal customers. Between sending out newsletters, posting consistently on social media, utilizing paid ads, and developing engaging content for your website, it may seem like you have your marketing bases covered. Not every business needs a private forum for clients but if you are offering a unique product and want to invite reviews and other user-generated content it is a great option. 


A private client community makes customers feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. This is especially true for small businesses that aren’t widely known. Members who have been part of the community longer can also help answer questions and take some stress off your customer service team. You don’t need to ask them to do this, people who are super fans are happy to share their inside knowledge with new customers with questions. Launching new products in such a space means you can get valuable feedback before taking them to the wider world. Conversations in these spaces keep your products and services fresh on members’ minds and create more excitement around launches. Being part of a community increases customer satisfaction and adds value to their lives beyond buying but more sales are likely to spring from the engagement within the forum. 


While the benefits are many, creating an online community space also poses some obvious risks. Miscommunications are more likely as text-only posts often obscure the intended tone. A bad review is tough to deal with already but a bad review within a semi-private space can embolden people to be harsher in their critiques. If a product doesn’t meet customer expectations, most companies would prefer direct communication to make it right. A forum of this nature allows for more (often unintended) passive aggression and potential conflict between clients. It also introduces the necessity of moderation. The worst case scenario would be losing clients who have a bad experience within the space–which unfortunately isn’t always within your control.  

Make a plan

Create and frequently update community guidelines as needed. It is essential to set ground rules and communicate them explicitly before issues come up. Bringing on a moderator to keep a watchful eye and kindly remind people of the expectations for behavior in the space is a good idea if it is within your budget. Maintenance can be exhausting without help so don’t skip on hiring someone with experience. Safety and privacy should be your #1 priority when designing your client community forum. 

Research your options for hosting. Do most of your clients use Facebook and would simply making a group there be the best option? Or would you prefer to use Discord or Mighty Networks to host a stand-alone community experience? Answers will vary greatly between businesses but knowing your clients is the key to making these decisions.


While a private client forum isn’t right for every company, it may benefit yours. Executed successfully, an online community space can provide a number of benefits for both customers and the business. It requires an investment of time and careful strategizing but the benefits are often well worth the planning and upkeep involved. 

Source: Sphere and Sundry Community Forum