Looking for effective community engagement strategies? Want to help improve the retention and growth of your business community? We’ve got 4 tips that’ll help improve your community engagement.
We sometimes have the impression that community building unintentionally happens on its own. It seems like the buzz around your brand manifests by itself and conversations and relationships grow organically. If you’ve been in online business for any length of time, however, you’ll know that healthy community engagement takes careful planning, hard work, dedication. You’re in the driver’s seat! You must truly connect with your members and intentionally steer your environment toward tangible success.
But, tied with your work ethic, you’ll find us at CMNTY! We’ll be in the passenger seat, guiding you toward the right turns and even rerouting when necessary. Until you’ve arrived at your destination and even beyond, we’ve got your back.
That being said, not all community engagement strategies are made equal. Choose the strategy based on the stage of development your community is in.
Before we go jumping into specific activities you can do to improve community engagement let’s first take a look at why community engagement matters. Then we’ll help you identify which stage your community is currently in.
Why Community Engagement Matters
Beyond ensuring that a community manager is on track to hit their community engagement metrics each month, ongoing engagement builds a sense of purpose and deep belonging for members of their community. Without this, members can feel disconnected and, if left that way, will eventually leave.
Paul Born, co-founder and President of Tamarack Institute, succinctly put it this way: “People need to care about their community if they’re going to act for the benefit of their community. Most often it comes down to them caring about somebody in their community.” – Paul Born
Listen to Paul share his views on rebuilding a sense of community in this video:
If you want your community to grow and self-sustain, then you’ll want to keep your members active and engaged.
Which Stage of Development is Your Community in?
The Online Community Lifecycle model was developed by Feverbee researchers to get a better scope and understanding of their own online community
Their lifecycle consists of four stages:
A good way to recognize which stage your community falls under is to look at the activity in your community generated by the members themselves. In other words, if most of the activity is being done by your community manager, then your community is still at the stage of inception.
By referring to the grid above, can you tell which category makes up your community? If you can, let’s take a look at the activities you need to be focusing on to improve your standing.
We’re looking for more enthusiastic involvement from your community members.
Strategies to Improve Your Community Engagement (No Matter the Stage!)
The chart you see below is a list of activities from the Feverbee team that any leader can focus on. The chart uniquely lists the types of activities you should be doing at every stage of the business.
Let’s run through them:
Inception Stage Activities
Activities at this stage particularly focus on you building real and true connections with your members. If you want a flourishing and healthy active community, there’s no way around this part. Members – most people, in fact – want to feel like their participation matters and that their contribution can make a difference in the larger picture. As the CEO of your online business, you have the opportunity to create such an environment.
Establishment Stage Activities
If, up until this point, you’ve taken care of your people, then they might be taking care of each other by now! This is where you want to organize more opportunities that allow this to continue in a healthy way. Hone your community by studying data to find out what’s working and what isn’t. Most importantly, apply that data effectively.
Maturity stage activities
This is the stage where you can introduce your community to the rest of the world. Now that your community is making a difference in its internal members’ lives, how can these very members affect and influence outside communities? This is where you’re focused on steering your community toward a goal that’s bigger than itself. You want to make sure that your community environment is one that feeds its members (as well as yourself!) and that supports growth.
Mitosis stage activities
Your community is so engaging and self-sustaining that you’ve created leaders of your own. At this final stage, you can create sub-groups to address more specialized issues within the community. The great thing about this is that you can assign leaders to take care of these sub-groups.
You’re now a leader that develops leaders!
Community engagement best practices
Here are some best practices that can help with your community building efforts. These can apply across multiple stages of community development as outlined earlier.
1. Be a Person, not a Company
To put it quite simply: introduce yourself! There’s no need to hide behind the name of your company. Most people are bombarded with brand names all of the time and few people connect to the people they’re buying from. You’ll set yourself apart nowadays simply by giving your name. Get the ball rolling first to break the ice – you’re allowing everyone else to feel comfortable enough to do the same. If you’ve got some shy members, encourage them to share by asking questions. The relationships you’ll quickly build will encourage people to come back.
2. Schedule Activities
In getting people to connect, you’ll solidify the relationships that are being built by getting people excited about something. Give members a reason to come back to the community so they have something to look forward to. This will not only be conversation pieces for your members but people who are, together, excited about new content will solidify they’re already burgeoning relationship.
3. Embrace Your Community’s Input
One of the major benefits of building your own community platform is your community’s input. Take a genuine interest in what your people have to say. When you see an interesting discussion, mention it and even start a new topic based on it. (There’s no better to show your appreciation!) Listen closely to find out what your member’s interests or issue are. When members see that you respond and address their input, they’ll realize you’re actually listening! They’ll definitely be coming back to see what effects their own input has had on the community.
4. Keep Everyone in the Loop!
There’s nothing like making a real and tangible change in a company to keep someone invested its outcome. Just like any relationship, the one between you and your members will be nourished because of your insightful and beneficial exchanges. Your members will feel appreciated and needed if you’re genuinely influenced by their significant ideas.
The Final Word
You could be working with an employee community or a customer community – all of these tips apply to these various communities, so see what areas work for your particular community and how well. The key to choosing the right community engagement strategies is first understanding which stage of the online community lifecycle your community is currently in. Once you know that, then go ahead and implement the corresponding activities to really take your engagement to the next level.
Be sure to track and measure your activities and tweak as you go.
Create tangible successes with these tips – they may be simple enough but your consistency with using them will determine the sustainability of your community buzz engagement.
Want to make implementing these strategies easier for your community? Trial our CMNTY platform for free for 14 days.