Businesses build online communities to connect with their customers, prospects, and users. However, there needs to be an effective plan to ensure that everyone in your community is engaged and benefited. Read more to find out how you can make your community more engaging by following these 9 easy tips.
Businesses today face the unique challenge of keeping their customers and members involved.
This is where an online community can be beneficial to your business.
Nowadays, almost every business has an online community or plans to create one in the near future. According to a survey, 75% of large companies had at least one online community in 2020, and 40% of small businesses reported the same.
An online community is beneficial to a business in a number of ways. Firstly, it can help to create personal relationships with your customers — this builds a strong bond between the customer and the business.
It also provides your customers with the opportunity to give feedback on products and services. Moreover, customers can ask questions about the product to other members.
Lastly, it can allow you to subtly promote your products and services without having to spend on advertising.
This makes an online community one of the best channels for acquiring customers, fostering relationships, and building brand awareness. In fact, 88% of community professionals believe that community is critical to the company’s mission.
While building an online community is an easy task, keeping it engaging is a bit challenging. So, in order to keep them coming back, here are nine tips for building an engaging online community.
Onboard new members
When new members join your community, one of the most important pieces of advice is to onboard them. In the same way that you would introduce a new friend to your existing friends, it’s important to onboard and welcome every member to your community.
While the onboarding process varies based on the goals and the type of community, there are a few onboarding processes that are generally recommended:
- Creating a guided tour to share the key functionalities, features, and community guidelines with the members.
- Creating introduction threads and automated email sequences to introduce the important components of your community.
Gamify your community
Gamification is another proven way to increase community engagement. In online communities, gamification is used to motivate and engage members by creating playful and fun experiences.
By setting up gamification tools like badges, leaderboards or rewards, you can incentivize meaningful contributions to the community.
For example, Remote Clan, a community for remote workers, provides badges to the active members of the community.
To encourage interaction between members, you can also hold competitions where members can win prizes for their contributions. For instance, members can be invited to write about their experiences in the community for a chance to win a prize.
Create daily, weekly or monthly rituals
If you have ever been a part of an online community, then you would be familiar with rituals. It’s a common way for members to connect with each other and get to know each other.
Rituals are important because they help new members feel included and they help old members feel connected. More importantly, it helps to create a habit of participating.
Some rituals that you can use for your community are:
- Weekly Introduction Post: Give a warm welcome to the new members and allow them to introduce themselves.
- Achievements Post: Members post their achievements and promote anything they have been working on recently.
- Monthly meetups: Meet your community members each month to talk and have a good time.
Organize community events
Organizing community events is a great way to engage your members. Having live online discussions, workshops, AMA sessions or webinars helps to maintain a sense of community and binds members together.
For this, you can find out which members are the biggest supporters of your community and ask them to host events. In order to encourage members to join, you could offer incentives for attendees.
Group your members
Every member of a community has their own needs and interests. For instance, the experience of a newcomer would be vastly different from that of a person who has been a part of the community for over a year.
So, it is a good idea to group members in your community based on their interests and other demographics. Once you have grouped them together, engage them in the content and experiences most relevant to them.
Indie Hackers, for example, has a number of active groups that provide a more personalized experience for their members.
Empower community members
As you build an online community, you have to make sure that the community is actually growing. One of the best ways to create meaningful engagement is to empower and enable your community members to become leaders of your community.
Encourage them to be peer mentors to their fellow members. Not only will this alleviate some of your work, but it will also encourage the growth of those members.
To find out members who can lead the community, identify the members who are most engaged and are truly using the community to build good relationships. Give them a special shoutout, reward them with badges and mention them in social media posts. Then, invite them to take on leadership roles in the community.
Share your data with the community
In recent years, many online communities and startups have adopted transparent policies. This includes sharing data and numbers behind the community. By sharing these numbers publicly, you can build trust in your community. Here are some metrics you can share with your community:
- Total posts this week
- Total likes this week
- Monthly active users
As a community builder, the most important metric to track is MAU (Monthly Active Users). In fact, a survey found that nearly 57% of the community professionals track MAU’s.
Ask for feedback regularly
While building a community, it is important to get feedback since it helps your community decide its course of action. More importantly, asking for feedback demonstrates that you are committed to improving the community. This will make them feel heard and become more invested in the success of the community.
Feedback also helps to determine if the community is actually solving its intended purpose. By getting feedback, you can rectify and take actions to bring it back on track.
Although many people consider notifications to be annoying, they are crucial for bringing your members back into your community. Not only do they improve retention, but they also drive engagement and participation.
There are many ways you can send notifications to your members and encourage them to engage with your content. The most common method is to send out a weekly digest that summarizes all the activities that happened in the community during that week.
Moreover, you can also send email notifications when the members are engaging with the content. For example, this means getting notifications when someone replies to your question or when someone upvotes your answer.
In addition, you can also send in-community notifications to the members for mentions, answers, comments, and others.
Shahul Rashik is a community lead at Remote Tools and Remote Clan. He is particularly interested and writes on topics related to startups, community building and marketing.