Do you have your own Social Network? You’ve no doubt seen hundreds of business articles claiming that content is king. But as quickly as content is churned out, it’s just as quickly yesterday’s news. As an online community builder, our emphasis is on promoting the development of a community that will create fresh, new content. But building such a group requires an in-depth understanding of your members.
Here are the 11 most important tips to successfully grow an engaged online community:
1. Hire the right community managers.
You need people who are passionate, proactive and have people skills, because their role is to manage people rather than content or moderation. Get the right community managers for each facet of your community, be it language, culture, interest and others. Each of these platforms should have dedicated community managers who are part of the unique culture.
Another important aspect of the right community manager is their ability to unplug from the digital environment. Being constantly immersed in your community can sometimes cause you to lose touch with what’s happening outside of it. But it’s important to observe social interactions in real life to give fresh perspective on your own community.
2. Personalize support.
Every problem is a unique situation, so personalization of the support experience should continue to reinforce the community feeling. Don’t send canned messages and be as authentic as possible. Community managers should be real people with their own characteristics and personalities who engage with the community not only via individual messages, but also through the platform itself. You want your community to know you on an individual basis and not just see you as a faceless brand entity.
3. Set the tone with new member integration.
When new users join your community, begin the process of integrating them into the community and introducing them to the culture through a series of welcome emails and an extensive FAQ. You should focus on exposing new members to the community culture as quickly as possible with guiding documents, one-on-one interaction and community moderation. Let the idea of community culture permeate your communications.
4. Foster a unique community culture.
Through the process of growing your community, you can foster a unique culture by watching the community language closely and incorporating it into your own communications, as well as by using symbols created organically by the community itself. Reinforce culture by talking to your users the way they talk to each other.
5. Identify moderators to encourage ownership.
Select community moderators who know the culture well and stay in touch with them. In the larger sense, moderation should become a task for the community itself, with community managers just preserving culture and encouraging others to moderate themselves by flagging inappropriate posts. You want to give the community a sense of integrity and ownership of what is being posted, and make members feel as much a part of the company as the people who are employed by it.
6. Identify power users.
Moderators are dedicated, but not necessarily as active as a community’s power users. Create a focus group of power users and listen to their feedback on technology and community aspects. Then use that feedback to direct the growth of the community and the platform.
7. Encourage content creation that matches your community’s interests.
Figuring out the types of content that are popular within your community culture can create more engagement among community members. Showcase members’ viral content to shape the direction of future content creation.
8. Promote community-related discussions and watch them closely for feedback.
The post-modern aspect of community is understanding where you are and that you are part of the community. Use content that nourishes the community feeling, such as posts that ask users for feedback about the community itself. We regularly request feedback from the community about new features. For example, we launched a new way for people to share suggestions and give customer satisfaction report.
9. Be in touch with other communities within your proximity.
Build relationships with additional people via social media sites, but also other brands that are in your proximity. You should be building relationships with social media communities and brands that are relevant to your members.
10. Create KPIs to measure and analyze community engagement.
Identify the KPIs That matter to you and measure them consistently. You should measure the number of opinions per user on a daily basis and how long it takes for a question to get a response. These statistics tells you how people are engaging with our site’s content and with each other, and help track the overall mood of the community at any given moment (which helps determine content decisions).
11. Provide the right tools for effective community management.
Lastly, you need to have the right technology available for moderators, community managers and throughout the platform itself to be able to do all of the things I’ve mentioned. Figure out tools that allow you to stay in touch while effectively managing content in a scalable way.
Creating an engaged community takes time, commitment and a dedication to studying the trends and habits within your community in order to create a better experience for members. With these 11 tips, you’ll be well on your way to a highly engaged, flourishing online community.