Online communities are proving to be game changers for businesses and personal brands today. Statistically, nearly 60% of companies use online communities to offer customer support, and 85% of brand owners agree that having a branded online community helps build trust among their target audience.
But building an online community is only one half of the picture. To truly experience the benefits that online communities offer, it’s crucial to drive engagement within these spaces.
5 strategies that can help boost engagement within your online community
Brands that employ effective community engagement strategies can supplement inorganic growth with more permanent organic growth. If this sounds like a milestone you want your brand to achieve, here are 5 actionable strategies that you can implement within your online community.
1. Give every member a welcome they’ll remember
First impressions matter a great deal. And you can use this to your advantage by providing a warm and personalized welcome to each new member when they join the community. You can do using various community engagement strategies like:
- Sending each member a personalized and exciting welcome message
- Introducing them to the community
- Creating a welcome video for them
- Offering a welcome discount
These small yet meaningful efforts can be incredibly effective at making a lasting positive impression on each new member. And it is infinitely better than onboarding a member without sending them any message or acknowledging their addition to the community.
2. Promote user-generated content
What’s the main difference between a social media following and an online community? In the former, you typically have a one-way conversation with your followers, but in the latter, you encourage active dialogue between the members of your community. This is why promoting user-generated content is one of the most effective community engagement strategies.
What’s more, people also tend to trust what other people say rather than what brands hard-sell them directly. 74% of consumers, in fact, rely significantly on social media to make purchase decisions. And only 1% of millennials trust brand advertisements enough to click through and follow up.
These numbers all point to one thing: your community can benefit greatly from organic, member-generated content. You can adopt the following community engagement strategies to encourage members to contribute to the community’s content pool:
- Ensure your community supports different content formats like text, photos and videos
- Showcase top contributions
- Highlight popular user-generated posts within the community
3. Be proactive and responsive to what your community expects
A community is not a passive space that supports itself. To keep the members of your community interested, you need to actively take part in the space and keep an eye out for what they require. Then, you can respond accordingly to promote user engagement and satisfaction.
Here’s an example to give you more clarity on how this community engagement strategy works. If you host a community centered around wellness, and you notice many of the members discussing how they suffer from a lack of adequate sleep, you could start a challenge within the community encouraging people to go to bed early.
4. Build your own community-hosting platform
When you are just getting started with building your own online community, you may find it easier to use the tools offered by existing social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. However, once you have established your presence online and built a thriving community, it may be beneficial in many ways to build and migrate to your own custom-made community-hosting platform.
This is a rewarding community engagement strategy because it allows members to participate in their online space without the distractions of conventional social media platforms. It also gives you greater control over the kind of experience you provide the members of the community, and the guidelines that govern the space.
5. Use gamification to elevate engagement
Gamification is another community engagement strategy that can improve participation and keep your community active. It’s essentially the process of incorporating gaming elements in your regular interactions within the community. Depending on the purpose for which you have built the community, the gamification elements that you can use include:
- Points and badges for crossing specific milestones
- Weekly challenges
- Collaborations within community members
- Leaderboards that showcase top contributors
- Offering rewards and prizes where possible
- Introducing a progression system with various levels to promote commitment among members
By leveraging these gamification techniques, you infuse a sense of friendly competition, excitement and personal gratification within the community. This, in turn, leads to increased engagement among the members.
Implementing effective community engagement strategies is crucial for brands and businesses looking to foster a thriving online community. By following the strategies outlined above, you can create a welcoming environment that helps each member thrive and participate in a manner that benefits them individually, as well as the community as a whole. Furthermore, it also drives organic success for your brand or business in the long run.