Community engagement strategies are all about creating a consistent set of processes to nurture members and invest in their personal development. Engaged communities lead to stronger customer relationships and higher member retention, which directly impacts loyalty and lifetime value.
As a general rule, community engagement requires the initial efforts of content seeding and community management activities. Over time, the bulk of engagement is organic, depending on the lifecycle of the community. Engaging the community, however, requires diligence, careful planning, and grit.
Your job as a community manager is to move the community toward healthy engagement by building authentic connections with members.
As each community is different, the engagement tactics also vary and are tailored to the lifecycle stage of the community. Prior to discussing the top 10 effective community engagement strategies, let’s establish the importance of community engagement.
Why community engagement strategies are important?
In terms of community engagement strategies, the possibilities are endless – but the most important factor is to ensure that it is closely tied to the end goal of the community-building objective. This results in member retention and brand loyalty due to the sense of belonging in the community.
If the members are not engaged, they will lose the connection and it will be increasingly difficult to move them through the various stages of the community’s lifecycle.
10 Creative community engagement strategies
Here is a list of the top 10 effective community engagement strategies that can help you with your community-building efforts. Consider these as a starting point and see what works best for you.
1. Warmly Welcome Every New Member
When you welcome new members to your community, they feel appreciated and in turn, they feel encouraged to participate. You can do this by sending a welcome email, creating an introductory video, etc. Encourage new members to become involved in the community.
“Hello there! Welcome aboard. We’re glad you joined us. You’re welcome to introduce yourself on our thread for new arrivals.”
You could say something like that. Alternatively, you could cross your fingers and say nothing at all! But if you do, you’re missing an opportunity to welcome new members to your organization. It only takes a few words of encouragement and direction to let them know they’re in the right place and with the right people. Automated emails or direct messages would suffice nicely.
For bonus points, consider setting up weekly or monthly ice-breaker events along with fun ways for newbies to greet each other.
2. Give Members Reasons To Get Involved
Online, your profile is a way for others to see who you are, what you’re about, and why they should know and trust you. In the case of sites like Amazon, the information is stuff like addresses and bank details. For an online community, it’s passions, experiences, and opinions.
It is harder for people to get to know each other without a profile. Encourage them to create one so they won’t leave dissatisfied. By demonstrating what they could gain or, better yet, inspiring them, you can be part of your community engagement strategies. Ask them to tap into the shared passion that built your community. You could even hold a competition to find the most interesting profiles. Get creative!
3. Use Seed Content
Community managers can post the seed content on behalf of community members such as questions or resources.
According to the 90-9-1 rule of community engagement strategies, only about 1% of community members are likely to post organically (among Higher Logic clients, it’s closer to 23%). By creating seed content, you can create organic member-to-member engagement in your community.
To get seed content, identify a subset of members (beta testers, chapter/user group leaders, champions, most active, those who have replied to a thread but not started one, etc.) and send a personalized email.
The best time to use a seed question is when you experience an ebb of inactivity. Your community may encounter this problem when it is first launched, or during the holiday season.
You can use seed content as your secret weapon because it is user-generated! By strategically posting it when your community needs a spark of engagement, members are more likely to post themselves. This encourages more organic, member-generated content.
4. Connect With Sub-groups
Your community members have an obvious connection – that’s how you brought them together – but a closer look will reveal more.
Leaders of thriving communities, especially larger ones, take note of trends in what members do and say and make changes in response. For example, if you ran a yoga community and consistently saw members talking about practising during their workdays, you could create a space dedicated to that topic. These discussions usually lead to deeper connections and show that you understand what your members want.
Identifying your most and least engaged members is another effective strategy for community engagement. If they’re quiet, try encouraging them to become more involved. If they’re loud and proud, you may be able to get them closer to your inner circle and get their help.
5. Replace Social Media With Your Private Community
Building a following through social media is a must when you’re just starting out. Millions of potential fans and followers gathered in one place are attractive. Meanwhile, it’s also controversial, distracting, and risky.
In the long run, social media isn’t a long-term solution for achieving genuine loyalty, deeper connections, and your own space online. Creating your own purpose-built platform (don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds!) and helping your members make the switch is far more rewarding and reliable.
Your community engagement strategies should be nicely polished up so that you can make the transition with ease. Trimming the fat and losing unengaged members is likely, but that’s no bad thing. By making the most of your new space, posting high-quality content there, and staying visible and accessible, you can showcase its benefits.
6. Engage Your Disengaged Members
You can use a strategy to encourage your “lurkers” or consumers and inactive users to take more overt action. It is imperative to understand your audience, as well as the consumer and inactive subsegment, as well as the timing and cadence of your outreach.
If you haven’t seen a community member on the site for a while, we recommend re-engagement campaigns or automation rules.
7. Incentivize participation
Engaging communities organically is great, but you should also incentivize participation.
Create an ambassador program in which your employees and customers are invited to participate. Your ideal brand ambassadors will be rewarded for doing tasks such as creating social media content.
Engage people who love your brand in activities that encourage community growth.
You can select a payment method that suits your budget and add as many ambassadors as you like. Customers who serve as ambassadors for your company might receive free monthly products, as well as cash rewards for their efforts.
In addition to increasing participation and user-generated content, ambassadors increase awareness and referrals.
8. Be Responsive
People like to be heard. Try to interact as much as you can with your community. Thank people for their support, respond to comments and tweets, and ask questions.
By doing so, you encourage others to contribute to the conversation. Ask for feedback, make polls, or ask people for their opinions.
Be sure that your brand messaging feels human and resonates with your audience when you are speaking to them. Community/brand managers must develop the brand’s voice as one of their most important tasks.
9. Keep It Fun
Always remember to keep your community fun for members through your messaging, activities, content, etc. A fun community will draw people even if they aren’t familiar with your brand.
Because of this, you need to think first about what the people are interested in when building a community. Once you have decided which activities your audience will enjoy more, you can start planning. It will be easier to build your community if you think about this first.
10. Ask for feedback
If you want any kind of feedback, your community is the place to go. Do you have an idea for a new product? Get feedback from your community. Looking to improve your customer service? Consult the community. Need help coming up with your next piece of content? Ask for your community’s opinion.
Don’t forget though that you can’t ignore feedback after asking for it. Build trust and loyalty by using what your members have shared. You are likely to lose some people if you become defensive or ignore comments.
And there you have it, the list of top 10 community engagement strategies. It’s time for you to modify and improve these ideas so they can be put into practice. At FLOOR, we provide a community platform to create, engage and manage your community from a single space. The all-in-one community platform allows you to drive community engagement with polls, Q&A, leaderboards and a lot more. Contact our experts today to know more.