A branded online community is critical to a company's success.
study by Inversoft confirms community programs are a cost-effective business growth strategy. From the brands surveyed, 72 percent utilized their community to gain product feedback for product development, 77 percent of brands believe it significantly improves their marketing strategies for brand awareness, and 54 percent use it to increase engagement and decrease attrition.
Companies who invest in communities have a stronger sense of brand awareness, trusted product feedback from customers, and increased sales. Having a community is an ongoing effort though, and it's something that requires nurturing, attention and care. The biggest challenge I hear from companies about managing a community? Maintaining engagement.
In addition to having the right tools and designated community admins, there are a few more things you can do to keep your community engaged:
1. Create a Welcoming Environment A welcoming and warm environment will encourage new members right from the start to participate in the community. Create your community and maintain it as if you were hosting a dinner party. Be sure to always welcome new members, and encourage people to participate on an ongoing basis. Make sure community members know they're in a safe space to ask vulnerable questions, share their successes and give honest feedback. Consistent maintenance of the temperature of the group requires carefully considering how your brand communicates with members.
Pro Tip: Once new members join, it's essential to welcome them enthusiastically. To break the ice, ask new members to share a little about themselves and why they made the decision to join the community.
2. Curate The Right Content Many online communities connect through the content they share. It could be a relevant news article, funny GIF, or instructional YouTube video. As a community moderator, it's important that you know how to curate the right content. Pay attention to what types of content receive the highest engagement and to what they're sharing with each other.
Pro Tip: Set Google News Alerts to receive real-time notifications on what's trending in your industry.
3. Host Offline & Online Events Online communities create a comfortable sense of belonging by introducing members to a group of like-minded people. Once your community is established, it's worth hosting an event that encourages members to network with their online community in person.
Examine the geographic information of your community and host a meetup in the location most of your members are from. This allows your online community to engage with your brand in a tangible way that will elevate the online community.
Don't stop here. Employ Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, AMA and Snapchat Snaps to engage your online members that are living in different regions.
Pro tip: Set monthly and quarterly goals to host online and offline events. Use this as an opportunity to engage the community by creating and event committee to organize.
4. Establish a Mentor Program Encouraging members to engage in a virtual conversation rather than acting as a silent bystander comes with a few barriers. One for example, is the fear associated with contributing to the conversation. It can be tough for members to find their voice in a sea of virtual identities.
Establishing a mentor program matches new members with senior members. Tasking senior members with the engaging new members is a great way to build a strong online space. This includes tagging members in conversations, being there as a resource for private questions, and accompanying members to in-person events.
Pro tip: Create a subgroup of super users who could be mentors to your community members.
5. Find Out What's Important to Each Community Finally, it's critical to figure out why each member is part of your community. Each member will have a different reason. The key is finding out what their intrinsic motivation is and then nurturing that. Material rewards can only go so far.
Pro Tip: Schedule regular check-ins with your community members. Ask them why they are part of your community and what they enjoy the most. Then create ways to nurture those needs.
Sharon Savariego is the CEO and co-founder of
Mobilize. She's passionate about the power of groups and is driving forward Mobilize's mission to build the best communication app that empowers large group to organize for action. In less than 2.5 years, Sharon has grown the company to 30 people, two offices around the world, and raised over $8 million in two funding rounds from leading Silicon Valley investors. Sharon is a veteran of the Israeli army's famous 8200 unit. Prior to Mobilize, Sharon held executive positions at uTest and Checkpoint. Sharon holds a BA from IDC Herzliya.