It’s no secret that online communities are all the rage right now. Every day more brands and creators are starting their own communities to better connect with fans and followers… Which is why community engagement best practices are a hot topic in online circles!
Standing out from the crowd for growth and engagement can seem like an impossible task with so many communities at hand. Luckily, there are some community engagement best practices you can follow to make sure your members get the most out of your community and actively participate.
We’ve rounded up 10 community engagement best practices that just about anyone can use no matter what kind of online community they’re hosting.
Measuring Community Engagement
Before we get into our community engagement best practices, we must understand what ” engagement ” means. That’s actually rather difficult to do because “engagement” is a marketing buzzword.
It can mean a number of different things such as clicks, shares, discussions, purchases, registrations, visits, and so on. That’s why it’s crucial that you define what engagement means for you.
For example, when you say you want to increase your engagement, what’s your actual goal? Do you want to encourage more discussions? Maybe you want more people to spread the word about your community? Or perhaps it’s a combination of both?
The more you understand your goals, the easier it’ll be to utilize the tools you need to reach them.
Community Engagement Best Practices
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get into our best practices for community engagement. No matter what your goals are, these are some things you can do to help encourage members to be more active and get the most out of your community.
Understand What Sets Your Community Apart
This step is a precursor for everything else on this list, but it’ll help you determine how you use the rest of the strategies listed here.
It’s important to understand what sets your community apart from others that might be doing something similar.
In other words, how do you create value for your members, and why do they sign up for your community? How do you help them achieve their goals? What do you do best, and how can you leverage those skills?
These might seem like simple questions to ask yourself, but identifying and writing them down will help you shape your strategies.
It’s good not to set up too many walls for members, especially when first starting your community. By this, we mean try not to create a ton of different subgroups or tiers for members. If everyone is separated, then it can make it look like your community is fragmented or, worse, devoid of active members.
When you do set up more channels or topics, try to make them open to everyone. This helps keep everyone in the same space, giving them access to more discussions and activities.
As a rule of thumb, try to only set up more topic groups when you think they’re absolutely needed, or you see members asking for them.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the needs of members should come first. Nobody goes to a store only to buy the owner’s favorite products, so why would you join a community to only take part in what they think is valuable?
For example, when thinking about new activities, events, or courses to offer, try asking yourself how members might benefit and why they’d be interested. At the end of the day, your community members bought in because they saw value in what you offered.
If you’re not sure about what to offer or if a new activity would be well received, then just ask your community how interested they would be. Similarly, if you notice many people asking about a similar topic, try and create material around that topic.
Sharpen Your Welcome
New members are going to be some of your most active. So, it’s important that you give them everything they need in order to carry over and sustain that enthusiasm.
If your welcome process is automated or if you use a premade template to welcome new members (which you should), try including these essentials:
- Rules and guidelines
- A schedule of regularly held events
- A short brief about how to get the most out of the community
- Who to ask if they have questions
- A short list of topics or channels they can use to get started or they might be interested in checking out
- A warm welcome
Share, and Encourage Others
This one is hard for a lot of people, but it’s important to share links to your community, social media handles, and websites right off the bat. If you’re one of those people who don’t like sharing, then don’t worry; we promise the more you do it, the more natural it’ll feel.
In the same vein, make sure all of your different properties are linked to one another. For example, make certain links to your community, social media handles, and websites are on your email newsletters and vice versa.
Similar to the last community engagement best practice, going live might seem like a large hurdle for some people. However, it’s one of the best ways to get community members excited and give them a chance to interact directly with one another and with you.
Luckily, live streams don’t have to be scary. In fact, we bet you’ll find them one of the more enjoyable aspects of having a community after hosting a couple yourself. Here are some tips to make them feel more natural:
- Try treating them like a conversational interview. They have an objective, but they don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be stuffy. Keep things light.
- Create a list of topics or things you want to touch on or ask your community about before going live. That way, if you ever run out of things to say, you can just move on to the next topic.
- Bring on a community member to interview or to help co-host. This is a great way to get community members involved, let them share their stories, or just have someone to go back and forth with while on camera.
Just Be Yourself
It goes without saying but you should try to be yourself when interacting with community members, especially on social media. It’s not hard for people to spot when someone is being disingenuous.
Your community or followers will be able to spot when you’re being too corporate or too sunny. So, it’s best just to be you. After all, that’s why your members decided to sign up for your community in the first place.
Similarly, don’t be shy about putting a face to your community. People respond to other people, so humanize your platform.
Set-up Your Own Platform
The last tip brings us to this one. Try moving away from traditional social media sites and transferring to your own platform. There are a ton of great options out there now that were specifically made with creators and brands in mind.
They’ll allow you to completely set up your community in whatever way you like and prominently feature your branding. Best of all, things like monetization and offering courses are usually built in.
If you’re not sure about what provider to go with, check out Nas. We’ve built a suite of features from the ground up to give creators and their communities everything they need to thrive.
Bring in a Community Manager
Running a community can be immensely rewarding. However, it takes a lot of work. So much that you’re probably not going to be able to respond to everyone and always keep an eye on things once your community gets to a certain point.
So, consider bringing on a community manager or moderator to help keep things running smoothly when you eventually have to get some sleep. You might even find that some of your best members might be interested in the role.
Charge a Membership Fee
It might be difficult at first, but you should really consider charging for memberships. Not only will this ensure that only the most dedicated signup, but it will encourage members to be more active and really get their money’s worth out of the community.
Most importantly, it means you’ll get paid for your work. After all, you put in effort and hours to build a community from the ground up; why shouldn’t you get paid?
Engagement can be hard to maintain, but we hope with these community engagement best practices, you’ll be well on your way to making sure your members are getting the most out of your community.
If you want more tools and a platform made specifically for creators and brands, why not consider Nas? Our platform comes with a suite of analytics, custom-made resources for members, access to other creators, and, if you choose, a community manager to help you run your day-to-day.
If you’re looking for the tools to track and improve community engagement, Nas has what you need.