To engage community members for a long time is no easy task. As community managers, it is pretty common to run into dead-ends on how to keep the people interested. Surprisingly, there is this false notion that organic engagement depends on content seeding. Content may be king, but in reality, community building requires more. Although there is no hard-and-fast rule to community management, there are a couple tricks in this article for you to try out. Without further ado, let's begin!
Lifecycles of Online Communities
A common mistake that community managers make is the blind application of strategies to their community models. The correct way to go about this is by understanding which phase your community is currently at. Hence, understanding alongside what it needs and what the members require from it.
By standard, there are four identified phases or lifecycles of an online community. Namely:
The activities you choose and how you intend to apply them in each of these phases directly impact how the members engage with the community. In fact, statistics show that on average, the impact of community on ROI can be up to 5,315^%. Moreover, a close-knit community also supports stronger customer relationships, making them stay loyal to your brand for longer periods.
Undoubtedly, the responsibility for community managers is immense. They have the task to promote sustainable relationships within the community. This is a continuous process and without the necessary guidance, can be a frustrating one too. Hence why I felt the need to list much-needed tips on how to grow community participation.
Strategies to Engage Community Members
1. Open discussion channels
The key to active interaction is dependent upon the discussion platform where people can share their thoughts hesitation free. People need to feel welcomed and safe for them to stay involved. So if your platform restricts that free exchange of views, it is likely to lose members. People stay longer where they feel valued.
Teachfloor offers a unique feature to its users: The discussion board. It is an in-community tool for people to openly engage with each other. Users can post any query or idea, can brainstorm alongside others, or simply wish each other birthdays. The possibilities of utilizing a discussion board are infinite.
2. Moderate when needed
On the contrary, one must not simply give up and allow for unregulated communication. Accordingly, it is important to jump in and moderate at times. To avoid things from getting bitter and also, to initiate quality discussions at times. Especially, for communities in their budding stages, moderation is more relevant than ever. It gives the community a direction and necessary guidelines to follow.
3. Conduct cohort activities
You may notice the diversity of membership within your communities. People from all sorts of ethnic to professional backgrounds are united under one banner. Whilst there may be several similarities, it is also important to at times focus on their differing needs too. Different people join in with differing expectations and to fulfill them at once is not feasible. A great solution to this problem is to conduct separate cohort activity sessions for these groups.
Reward psychology will never be out of date. Everyone likes a little treat once in a while and such a tip is sure to engage community members. You can host fun little competitions on your online forums and give the participants points on their participation. These can be pop quizzes or riddles, or even virtual scavenger hunts. There are so many fun options to explore here.
Additionally, keep a scoreboard where participants can track their performance. And finally, winners can also get a little something at the end. Perhaps, exclusive subscriptions or discount codes.
5. Plan together
Naturally, when one invests in something, they feel more responsible towards it. This is also true for content generation. To keep community members engaged, make them give their input in the content production. This is known as user-generated content. Such an exercise will also boost members' trust and loyalty towards the community.
6. Onboard new people
The key component of any community is membership. However, people come and go and that can have an impact on community participation. To keep things afresh and to avoid community depletion, make sure to onboard new members routinely. You can host virtual meetups and offer guided tours and buddy programs to gel newcomers with old members.
Advertise your community space and welcome people with open arms. At the same time, set some criteria too to screen the participants. You want responsible and diligent people, therefore, it is important to set ground rules before onboarding to see whether the applicants fit them.
7. Be content smart
Simply having good content won't do it for anyone in the community. It also matters how the content is projected. Generally, people focus more on visuals. This is why video or pictorial content performs better in terms of viewership than textual content.
Anyways these days people are multitasking and their attention is divided between several things. In such dynamics, effective content is that which is quick, easy, and fun to interact with. You can always offer in-depth content to people who seek more. And don't forget to stay authentic; members love authenticity.
8. Be responsive
As community managers, your job also includes attending to the queries of your members. Be quick in your outreach. Make sure to address the issues and concerns as soon as possible as delays can deter participants and make them lose trust in your community. You can integrate in-app message and email; notifications. This way everyone including you can stay up-to-date on the ongoing community activity.
9. Build trust
Trust is an essential foundation of any strong community. But trust-building can be challenging. A seemingly simple yet great way of earning your members' trust is by adding cookie consents in your community channel. This will let the members know that their data privacy is maintained. Moreover, for further security and assurance add Stripe integration for safekeeping any financial transactions. These little things can make a big difference in client perception.
10. Know your members
As much as members need to be well integrated, it is equally vital for community managers and organizations to be aware of them. A quick and hassle-free way of doing this is by conducting online polls. They are a fun way of getting people to interact and at the same time extract common points within your community.
Investing in community growth is part and parcel of a productive business model. Besides earning chat buddies, these communities are major contributors to company sales and revenue. They help in client retention and loyalty which in turn translates to increased ROI.
An ideal input-output model that businesses follow is the Pareto principle. According to this, one should invest 20% of effort to see 80% output. It is all about efficiently utilizing ones' resources. These suggestions and strategies are an attempt to help you engage community members more along with a similar method. With less effort, you will be able to make a much bigger and more impactful difference.