8 Ways to Increase Community Engagement
Your community may have many members. But, are they engaged? Community engagement revolves around investing in your members so that they invest time and effort into your community to reciprocate.
Engagement is becoming a steep hill to climb on traditional social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, due to the sheer volume of content.
But on these channels, or an online community platform, it is not impossible to boost key metrics such as likes, comments, shares and other forms of contribution.
It takes a combination of planning, perseverance and guidance. In this article, we focus on the third, by listing eight proven ways you can increase community engagement!
Method 1 - Responsiveness
Disciple Media highlights that great communities are about interaction. By being unresponsive to member interaction, you run the risk of lowering engagement over time. Your members are the architects of user-generated content within your Facebook Group, on your comments section or on your online community platform. If your community is large, it can be challenging to respond to each piece. To overcome this, allocate more time to dealing with interactions that are of greater urgency. Overall, you want to create the perception that you are always there for your members or for individuals who are interested in your community. Relationships are built on consistency, so consistent responses are a priority.
Method 2 - Member Expression
In a busy digital age, members of an online community may find that their perspectives, issues or suggestions are not listened to or acted upon. An FAQs section alone isn't enough! By providing an opportunity for members to give regular feedback, you will be able to allow members to express their concerns, whilst also improving your offering. Our Community Member Satisfaction Template is one resource that you may wish to use to help you gather and action feedback effectively. If this leads to greater member satisfaction, trust and openness, there's a chance that engagement with content will increase. It must be noted that expression must be encouraged. It is not enough to assume that members will find it within themselves to do so.
That's one of the benefits of an online community platform. It's an open platform for expression which facilitates user-generated content and space for opinions.
Method 3 - Community Moderation
Engagement is built on trust. Members must feel safe within your community so that they can trust you before interacting with what you offer. If you are turning a blind eye to trolling, bullying, abuse, offence, favouritism and imbalance within your community, it may lead to feelings of unsafety. An entire community's image can be disrupted if there are a few people within that are creating an atmosphere of negativity.
To account for these potential issues, you should clearly define your community's policy, guidelines and rules, and take action if they are breached.
On a few online community platforms like Ugenie, community moderation is ensured by giving community leaders a chance to delegate management or admin functions.
Method 4 - Events
By hosting in-person or online events, you will be able to develop a rapport with your community members and nurture a humanistic brand.
Events, which include networking, workshops and socials, are about establishing your community's presence and worthiness of being engaged with. Also, by introducing pricing for particular events, and special access for those who are members, you can foster a sense of exclusivity.
The events themselves must be of value to your members or prospects. To gauge what your members are seeking, it's important to ask and not guess. As you deliver more events, you can start to distribute event-specific content with strategic tagging, so that a member's engagement is associated with their event attendance.
Regardless of metrics, a member should be classified as 'engaged' if they turn up to your events regularly. It's not all about online statistics!
Method 5 - Member Segmentation
Your members are completely different to each other. They have heterogeneous characteristics and varying interests. Before distributing content, hosting events and evolving your membership business's service, it is essential that you find out who your members really are. By understanding your members' demographics, psychographics and behaviours, you can begin to segment them into categories. Then, you can also segment your membership business's offering, which involves content, events and services, into categories that match each member category. The result? Content, events and services which are tailored, targeted and specific, and worthy of being engaged and interacted with.
Method 6 - Engaging Content
The quality, relevance and aesthetics of your content must be on a high level. This makes a massive difference to whether or not pieces are engaged with. Instead of posting content that is purely text-driven, consider using thirty-second videos or visually appealing infographics to convey key points. Again, it is worth surveying your members on the desired copy of your content, but also the medium in which they prefer to consume it.
Further, if you are using an online community platform, pay attention to member-generated that you regard as impactful or important to highlight as exemplary. As Mashable notes, frequent content contributors within your community can offer feedback and insight from a different and more refreshing point of view.
Method 7 - Member Onboarding Process
To encourage participation, interaction and engagement from day one, it is essential that your business has a state-of-the-art onboarding process.
As Tribe mentions, the goal of the onboarding process is to make your new members feel comfortable and excited to engage with the community. Your new members may benefit from virtual tours of the community, emailed steps to activate membership or guidance from your long-term members. With a fantastic first impression, you can be assured that you did everything in your power to trigger a desire to engage and participate from the get-go.
Method 8 - Rewards-Based Contribution
AnswerHub notes that handing out badges or prizes for outstanding member contributions may lead to a culture of effort and care with a community. Contributions could include asking meaningful questions, sharing impactful content, securing referrals or helping out with events. In communities that are larger and more financially secure, rewards could even be monetary, existing in the form of cash, coupons, discounts or special offers. Also, incorporating elements of gamification within the community can open up the opportunity to add rewards and make the process fun. A member may realise that there's a clear outcome from their engagement efforts.
Overall, responsiveness, expression opportunities, community moderation, events, member segmentation, engaging content, impactful onboarding and rewards are just eight ways to augment your membership business's engagement rates. We urge you to try each of these methods and collect data on how well they went. With more attempts, you will be able to craft a solid engagement strategy!
If you are a community leader, or in the business of community, try a Ugenie hub, for free, for 14 days: https://www.ugenie.io/trial