Fans of your apps love to help others, turn newer users into fans, and bring you more users as they talk about your app. Building a community can help you tap into those influencers to help you improve your app and provide support to others.
Building your own community can help you bring content that will delight users and get them talking about your apps to friends, family and others in their social network.
Starting Your Community
In conjunction with your apps’ design and development, you should start defining and building your community infrastructure. There’s no one approach that fits all, and the approach for each of your apps may need to be a little different. You should start by thinking about your potential users and asking questions such as:
How will my users prefer to interact? Game users may prefer a modern feed style community, users of a financial management app a more traditional discussion forum.
Should I have a community for all my apps or should each app have its own? Will users be turned off if the community isn’t just about the app that interests them or can I make it a way to turn them onto my other apps?
Will different countries or territories, or speakers of particular languages need separate forums? How will I handle feedback in languages I don’t know?
Do I need any additional policies beyond those governing the tool used to host the community?
Any way you do it, starting your community early helps you build momentum as you turn happy users into influencers.
Consider inviting your existing users through a rich notification or an opt-in on your website. Don’t overlook inviting your critics too. If you have been able to address their earlier issues you may convert them into supporters — it’s not unknown for your harshest critics to become your most enthusiastic fans if you address their concerns.
When you use the beta-testing feature in Google Play, you’ll create a testers group through a Google Group or Google+ Community to define who gets your software for testing. Consider managing these groups as communities in their own right.
Tools to Build Your Community
There are many tools you can use to build your community. Before you launch, inviting Google+ users or Google Groups to beta-test your app can help you kickstart your community while you listen to and respond to your user feedback.
Once you’ve launched, your Google+ or other social media presence can help you continue to gather feedback, answer questions, and get input on updates. Use social media to get the conversation started. Post updates to your followers, announce new apps, and host contests. Ask followers to re-post so that they bring new users into the conversation. Fans love to profess their passion for great apps, so be sure to give them plenty of reason to do so.
Forums like Google Groups are particularly well suited to help you and your users provide support to others. By helping out your community, you’re building your fan base who will share their experiences with other prospective customers.
Respond to comments and reviews on both your product details page on Google Play and YouTube pages. Prospective customers are influenced by reviews and comments, so be sure to manage your brand in every channel you can.
Managing Your Community
Engaged users want you to succeed. Let them know you’re listening! Responding to posts, comments, and other social media mentions improves your ratings by letting users know you care.
Update the product based on user feedback and announce new releases. Users often change their original star ratings after feeling heard, inspiring more users to install your apps.
There are many ways to make your community feel special. Consider polls to let users influence product updates. Use competitions to inspire and reward your community. Giving a special member of the week badge is an easy way to recognize those that help others. Or get users involved in testing new versions or new apps to make them feel special.