Community engagement is about more than just asking for something from your members; it’s about adding value to their day in a fun and interactive way while staying true to the mission and purpose of your company.
Keeping your members engaged and fostering a connection with your brand requires embedding your company’s values into the overall spirit of your community and making these your main focus when strategizing new engagement ideas. Additionally, you should aim to put a smile on your customers’ faces, spark their curiosity through inspirational content, and reward them appropriately.
Here are our top nine recommendations for building a solid community engagement strategy:
1. Create fun contests, polls, and quizzes.
Nothing keeps the boring routine away and brings people together like games do. Get playful with your advocates! Don’t be afraid to get silly, and allow yourself to be vulnerable, as this creates a more relaxed vibe and feeds creativity. This will help you build trust and engagement with your community.
For example, you could share a photo of yourself making a funny face, then ask members to reciprocate and have a vote on the best pic. Or ask them to reveal their childhood aspirations, the more absurd the better. If you work for a tech company, why not run a poll on which Star Trek technology your members would most like to see realized?
Anything that helps create an affinity for the community and the people in it. Try to personalize these interactions as much as possible, as personal stories have the power to humanize your brand and add a new layer of trust and connection between members.
2. Balance entertaining and educational content.
As your community starts to grow, try to strike a healthy balance between fun and educational activities that appeal to your members’ professional and personal interests. Educational content gets a lot of traction, especially among more career-driven members. Consider conducting an exclusive interview with an industry expert or hosting an “Ask Me Anything” session to encourage member participation. Alternatively, offer members a learning platform where they can log in and develop their knowledge and skills.
These educational endeavors add a whole new perspective to the community, validating its value in the eyes of your members and stimulating brand enthusiasm. When you offer learning materials that lead to professional growth, your members will recognize the value proposition of the community and also help spread the word about it.
3. Use visuals in your community content.
Visual content such as photos, GIFs, and videos packs far more emotion than text alone. It has more storytelling potential and can communicate your brand message instantly.
Try shooting your own original content or accessing a premium library of stock images if you want to incorporate quality photos into your strategy. For community activities and content in general, choose visuals that are relevant to the topic that trigger an emotional reaction and that motivate people to act for the benefit of the community.
4. Schedule activities ahead of time to get your members excited.
Weekly scheduled activities framed around common interests like health and wellness, wisdom thoughts, or fun facts of the week can increase engagement and build momentum. They also give members something to look forward to, helping to solidify relationships and fill in flat periods when there’s nothing new to share.
To maximize member participation, identify the right moment of the day or week to post. Consider cultural differences, time preferences, holidays, and known industry cycles in order to respect your community members’ time.
5. Highlight your most engaged members and keep everyone in the loop.
To get the most out of the content you publish, sometimes you need more than a great topic. How will your members interact with your newest posted challenge? While some of your ideas might be spot-on and trigger instant responses, debates, and endless comments, some might need a boost in energy at times. And here, your community leaders can help. Find a way to highlight your most active advocates and to encourage other members to be similarly active.
Perhaps you could highlight which advocates have commented the most on a particular blog post or community subtopic? Or how about having a “community member comment of the week”? Such actions send a clear yet subtle message about the type of behavior that you want to nurture inside the community, and also keep everyone else invested in the community’s success.
When you draw attention to engaged members each week, month, and year, other members will likewise wish to stand out, be appreciated, and followed.
6. Start a debate about a trending topic.
Debates in your community are one of the best ways to encourage members to take on leadership roles, strengthen their connections, and start meaningful conversations. Just pick an interesting topic, set the tone, and let people share their thoughts for the sole purpose of contributing or making themselves heard.
Disagreements are bound to happen, and this is where you should come in as a community program manager. Rather than interfering or taking sides, your job is to mediate between potential conflicts so that the members can express themselves openly and respectfully.
If you begin the debate in a friendly way—discuss the main argument and counterargument—then you can encourage people not only to take part but also to “disagree without being disagreeable”.
7. Give your members a brand-related nickname.
Nurture a sense of group identity and affiliation by giving your members a nickname that mirrors your brand. For example, Reddit calls its members “Redditors.” Engagement is also boosted when you allow individual members to create their own virtual avatars in line with the community’s spirit.
Remember that your community will always mirror the energy you put in, so make the naming process fun, playful, and creative. When your customers feel special, they’re more likely to reciprocate.
8. Encourage online and offline member interactions.
Introductions can go a long way to promote community participation and communication, but it’s important that they be done in the right way. We’ve all attended events where the host quickly introduces two people by name and then leaves without allowing time for a proper conversation.
Instead, when introducing members to each other, indicate shared interests or objectives. An even better approach is creating collaborative activities so members can work towards a common goal—such as an event or an eBook launch.
In addition to helping your members converse and collaborate, a great way to bring a sense of positivism to the community is by encouraging your members to give each other public recognition and praise. This will help create a strong foundation in the community and encourage meaningful communication.
9. Ask for ideas and feedback.
If you want to find out how well you are doing at engaging your community, or if you need improvement ideas, don’t hesitate to request feedback and insights from your community members. They are always eager to be helpful and involved in the greater goal and success of your community because it not only confirms their participation but also increases their desire to come back.
Make sure to have a plan for incorporating their suggestions. And, when seeking feedback, try to be as specific as possible so that you receive useful responses. For example, you could frame the question in a way that elicits open answers: “How do you think we can raise the level of engagement in this community“? or “What kind of rewards would motivate you to interact and complete tasks“?
High engagement levels serve more than just your immediate business purposes. They also help your community stand out among the competition and make waves that propel your company in unexpected ways. Each of the strategies above will help you forge real, sustainable connections within your community. But don’t stop there. To stay relevant and scale your membership, it’s vital to be constantly testing new ideas that boost interaction.