In today’s digitized, post-pandemic society, building an online community is more relevant than ever. For brands, communities are an invaluable opportunity to connect with their customers and create engagement. For others, communities enable relationship building and long-distance collaboration.
Everyone wants to build one for many different reasons, but not all of them thrive and become successful, especially in such a fierce attention economy. Some become stagnant and never see the light of day again.
Increase your chances of success by following these key strategies toward growth and sustainability.
Building a thriving online community requires thoughtful planning and a clear understanding of the brand and purpose behind it. Creating an effective strategy for growth is essential to ensure that you are reaching the right audience and achieving your overall objectives.
Taking into consideration all aspects of your community, from its mission statement to its engagement goals, can help you identify the most effective ways to grow your online presence. The identity and purpose of the community will help existing members stay, while also attract new members that match your community’s ideals.
A successful community onboarding program can take many forms, but the goal is always the same: to drive engagement, retention, and loyalty amongst your members.
A good onboarding program should provide guidance on how to use the platform, introduce members to the values of the organization, and help them understand how they fit into the community and what they can do for it. This will help build a more sustainable online community where everyone is working towards common goals.
Creating a safe, inclusive and welcoming online environment is one of the most important factors for cultivating strong communities. In today's world, it has become increasingly important to build an online space that is not only welcoming and respectful of all individuals, but also encourages the exchange of ideas and meaningful conversations.
That’s why it’s so important for us to strive to create an environment where everyone feels welcome regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. Creating opportunities for members to be heard and properly welcomed encourage them to start engaging and adding value to the community.
Making a subforum for newbies is also a fantastic way to introduce them to the community. You can post guidelines here and provide all the information they need to get started. This can also serve as a less intimidating place to create a first post or say hello.
Sustaining engagement in your online community is key to making sure it remains active and successful. Creating content that appeals to different interests, fostering conversations between members, and providing incentives are all great ways to encourage more involvement from members.
Consider a gamification strategy where engagement is rewarded through gamified elements like points, badges, and other account upgrades. Quests can also be a very useful way to introduce and gradually ease your members into the community.
Data-driven decision making is becoming increasingly important in today's digital world. It helps organizations make better decisions and build towards a more sustainable online community. By leveraging data, businesses can better understand their customers, identify opportunities, measure success, and anticipate changes in the industry.
For communities specifically, community managers can use data generated from engagement and micro interactions to understand your members’ interests and dynamics better. This is fundamental to decision-making, and will ultimately provide your community a better experience.
At the end of the day, there really is no universal solution to managing communities. Nevertheless, these strategies will guide leaders toward building a thriving and sustainable community.