How does real community engagement look like?

I keep reading a lot of books. And of course, my favorite books are always the ones that actively engage me throughout. That’s what inspired me to write this story. In this story, we will be looking at some of the interesting hacks to build a super-engaged community.

An engaged online community is probably one of the most used terms that get thrown around a lot in the community space. And it can have multiple meanings depending upon the context and who you are talking to. But, in customer communities, it can be defined as a method of making customers interact with each other, with the genuine intent that their needs are met within the community. 

Everyone wants more engagement in their online communities. I have seen people getting impatient as soon as they launch their online community because of the low or almost zero engagement. But what you need to realize is, engagement does not come instantly after launching a community. It takes its own sweet time to make your customers come, stay and then even make them keep coming back to your community. While all of it doesn’t happen automatically, building your efforts in the direct direction can spark engagement in your community.

For starters, keep in mind that the kind of content you create in your community is a key part of your engagement strategy. But what’s more important is - maintaining a strong feedback loop with your customers.

Do you want to know how? Let’s dive in:

Invest time in 1:1 conversations

Talk to your customers about their challenges, pain points, expectations, etc. Channelize this feedback into creating rich content that would help them and other customers/ prospects joining the community.

Leverage community platform features like “create polls”, “ask a question”

Use these features to get the data from your customers on what kind of content they would like to consume. Observe thoroughly to understand what brings the most value. While asking a question, avoid asking open-ended questions and ask questions around different community ideas and check what they say about that. You could also do that over the zoom call and check their reactions live. 

Engagement hacks - The Community Stoplight method

To spark your community, you got people together and helped them start talking. STAY WITH IT! But as your community starts growing beyond its early memberships, the real challenge will be to make sure you’re constantly attracting new folks while maintaining the engagement quality. It doesn’t happen so smoothly. Because new folks need to be genuinely excited about your shared purpose or they’ll never want to come to your community.

Here, I’d like you to have a look at the community spotlight method to get more engagement in your community. You can start off by doing this activity for at least a month and then keep evolving accordingly.

🔴 = 10 “silent members” in the community, ones who never participate or interacts

🟡 = 10 members who do not initiate a conversation, unless tagged or mentioned

🟢 = 10 most engaging members in the community who you may refer to as “role models”

You can track these in excel or google spreadsheets. The focus for the next one month should be very thorough. Keep in mind, this method is a great way to kickstart your community when you see the early members coming in and contributing in multiple ways already! Because this is exactly the time to build relationships. Now, your next action item should be:

🔴 Activate = Send personal messages. Try to indulge in 1:1 conversations and find out what excites them in the community, their expectations, and feedback

🟡 Engage = Turn the spotlight towards role models. Ask them to tag these members in relevant posts, share their stories. Personally invite them to community events and rituals.

 🟢 Scale = Reward these members. Make them feel special. Let them take impactful initiatives in the community.

At the end of the month, have a look at the spreadsheet and see what worked and what didn’t. Some members would definitely move up the spotlight. And if they don’t, there’s nothing to worry about. You can control what’s in and what’s out but you can never predict how things will grow. Your job as a community leader is to curate the community and nurture the different voices within it. So, try out different strategies and keep at it. 

You should create space for healthy debates, compassionate support, and constructive criticism. That’s how you’ll grow along with your members and collectively make an impact.

Now, you might be thinking, “Anukriti, what are you saying! I am just starting out. I don’t even have enough community members or engagement to get this kind of feedback. What should I do now..?”

Don’t worry! Check this out..

  • Try to find similar communities that are larger in size and read through the comments/posts etc. You will get to know the struggles of users. Make a pattern and define a value proposition that appeals to your target audience and will help attract them to your community. If they see/feel that their pain points and needs are getting addressed with your community, members will start joining in.

  • Define your ideal customer persona and try to find them on social media. Check out their content and understand them better. This will give you a lot of insights in terms of what type of content will bring the most engagement to your community.

Glynk’s tip 💡

In any community, there will always be a small set of extra-passionate people who will do the majority of work to push the community onward and upward. And with that, you also get an added set of responsibilities. Growing a community isn’t only about management, btw. It’s about developing leaders. With their help, your community will affect more people and sustain itself longer than you could have managed on your own.

How does your community engagement look like? Do you have any tips/ suggestions that you’d want me to add here? Get to me on Twitter or LinkedIn, or shoot me a question in the comments below. You can also write to me about what's driving you crazy in your community—engagement, control, metrics, visibility..anything. I’d love to chat. Thanks! See you next week.