The importance of an engaged online community is indisputable. Your goal is not only to build a community but also to make people stick with it. There is no doubt about the fact that garnering engagement is a lengthy process. You have to put consistent effort to get people to interact in virtual communities. You have to give them a reason to stay. So, to help you build engaging online communities, here we present some valuable tips and tricks that work:
Pay special attention to the content
Content to an online community is what fuel is to an automobile. No matter how well structured and efficient an automobile is, it needs good-quality fuel to work. Similarly, unique content is important to create an engaging community.
- The best online communities frequently use prompts to inspire the users to engage.
- Do not only create blog posts. Try a variety of ways to interact through your content. Create ebooks, send out newsletters, host online workshops and events, create audio and video posts.
- Post both long-form and short-form content.
- Focus on industry-specific topics instead of generic topics.
- Be consistent in posting content.
- Write problem-awareness content
Understand how the basic community pillars work
Without three basic community pillars in place, virtual communities fall flat to its face. These pillars are: Right tools, members, and strategy.
- Right tools: The community building platform you are using to build the community pretty much decides how the community will be. Normally, social media platforms are more than enough to create a community. But for more sophisticated, brand-led online communities, you have to use a community building platform.
Before choosing a platform, brainstorm a list of questions consisting of all the features you need in a platform. Then, answer these questions to get a clear idea of what is right for you. Although everyone has a different set of requirements, some features are non-negotiable. These include customization, easy sign-in process, trouble-free collaboration, effortless content sharing, moderation policy against abuse, etc. Look for these features in the platform you select.
- Members: Ask yourself-Are your community users your target audience? Because engagement is important but building the right community is even more important.
Cherish your community members as they make up your community. Welcome them with a warm message. Create an automated message to congratulate them on their first comment, or post. Keep their needs and desires in mind. Pay attention to what they want to see. Cater to all kinds of audiences. Set rewards for those who actively engage on a daily basis. Make them feel their voice matters.
- Strategy: Strategy is the most important building block of virtual communities. Plan it to every little detail. How much is your budget, how often would you post content, how to connect to people, who are the leaders and managers, etc. Keep experimenting with your strategy. Keep what works, discard what does not.
Follow the 80-20 rule
We have talked enough about giving the audience a reason to join the community. Now let’s talk about giving them a reason to return again and again. How would you feel if a brand constantly talked about their products or services, without providing any value? Obviously annoyed! If you follow such an approach, forget engagement, you will soon have no community to interact with. Instead follow the 80-20 rule, according to which 80% of your community activities must be devoted to solving the problems of its members. Only 20% should be about sales.
Use the power of social media to your advantage
You may be tempted to think, “Why do I need social media when I already have a community, right?” Wrong! Remember, social media is vast, while your community is selective. If you want your community to grow, start building a personal brand on social media sites. The more your popularity grows on social media, the more engagement you will get in the community, too. Be visible in the comment section often. Slide into your followers’ DMs and encourage them to join your community.
Master SEO and ASO
Although it’s a no-brainer, most people ignore this vital aspect of organic growth and engagement. Work on the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and ASO (App Store Optimization) of your community. Make sure your community shows at the top of the search results. Also, see if the platform you choose provides special tools to help improve ranking in search engines.
Analyze the progress
Never forget to track your progress using legit analytical tools. Moreover, don’t jump from one strategy to another too soon. Give it some time to show results.
It is everyone’s dream to build an engaging community. Still many fail because it requires a massive amount of time and energy. But hard words always pay off in the end.