"Build it and they will come"—if only it was that easy. The reality is that attracting new users to your community can be difficult, but maintaining their interest and keeping them engaged with your brand, community and content is even harder.
When you find yourself struggling to drive deeper engagement, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using quick fix techniques that give a temporary increase in activity but lack longevity. But that’s not to say these techniques are bad. When used in conjunction with other activities, they can help drive consistent engagement and growth.
Here are my top 6 tips to increase engagement in your community:
Tip #1: Reduce customer effort to contribute
This may sound obvious, but It’s important to consider the customer effort when building new functionality or processes in the community. A few years back, I ran a community where the registration process was linked to a complex account lookup. We discovered that resulted in a massive drop off in conversation. Once we removed this process, members were able to register and login much quicker and we saw an instant increase in new members.
Tip #2: Throw a welcome party
Giving new users a warm and personal welcome can be time consuming, but it’s a worthy task and your available time will influence what you can actually do and sustain. Consider sending a weekly email or PM to new members, outlining how to get the most out of your community, and introduce them to community activity you have planned. Remember, though this isn’t fully scalable, you can only do so much. You may want to include your superusers in greeting new members, or have an ”Introduce yourself” board where new users orient themselves and superusers can play a vital part settling users in.
Tip #3: Get the platform working harder for you!
There are over 40 automated system emails sent by Lithium,which presents a great opportunity. Look at ways to make most of these to cross promote activity on the community, such as a blog, member of the month, product review, etc. Branding your system emails with HTML or images can really bring them to life, giving your message much more punch. You can also use these emails to highlight features like kudos and solutions and drive greater awareness.
Tip #4: Expert Days
No matter what industry you work in, every business has experts! Your community members will love nothing more than getting access to them! I often run expert days where customers can have live Q&As. Like contests, they do give a temporary spike in activity. However, you can drive a much longer time of engagement through early promotion and then follow up with blogs, using content generated from the event.
Tip #5: Off Topic Isn’t All Bad
I often find myself in the minority on this topic, as many believe that off-topic discussions distract from the core purpose of the community. However, I’m a firm believer that a community is something you build.
“A community isn’t a community just because you call it one.”
It’s true that our community will bring people together around the central shared theme, but that’s often not enough. Giving users a space to discuss other interests or hobbies will help them discover and build relationships with other members, which translates into a more "sticky" community. That will then encourage users to return and actually become a community defined by their activity, not just because it’s called a community.
Tip #6: Launch a superuser program?
Launching a superuser program was one of the best things I ever did. Not only does this help scale support and moderation, but it also helps build a core of super active, super passionate users who will define you and help protect your brand and community. This small group of warriors can be an untapped resource of content, and with some careful curation on your part, they can also seed an endless stream of engagement.
The above tips are just some of the ways to achieve an engaged community. Remember, it doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s within everyone’s grasp.A great way to pull all this together is with a content calendar. Map out both community content and activities to help keep a balance and constant rhythm in the community. Good luck!
Stephen Fell is the Senior Content & Engagement manager at TalkTalk. He drives TalkTalk's growing community, social engagement team, and their help & support content/sites. Stephen is also a Rockstar here on the Lithium Community and an Expert in Product Ideas.
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