A compilation of top community engagement tactics to keep your online community active and engaged.
It is a general notion that community engagement requires the initial effort in terms of content seeding and activities driven by community managers. Eventually, depending on the lifecycle of the community, the bulk of the engagement is organic.
However, this is far from the practical scenario — community engagement requires continuous effort, meticulous planning, and grit. The conversations around a brand community never sustain organically and rarely originates naturally. As a community manager, you are the captain of the ship and the onus is on you to move the community towards healthy engagement by building authentic connections with the members.
At Tribe, our success managers are always with the customers lending a helping hand, providing guidance, recommendations and sometimes just the right push to improve the engagement in the community.
Considering that each community is unique, the engagement tactics also vary and specifically crafted to serve the lifecycle stage of the community. Before moving to the key community engagement strategies, let’s first clearly understand why community engagement is important.
Why community engagement tactics are important
The outcomes of community engagement are simply endless – however, the key factor is that it is closely tied to the end goal of the business objective for community building. It develops and nurtures the sense of belonging in the community which results in member retention and brand loyalty.
Without the engagement, the members would gradually lose the connection and it would become increasingly hard to move them through different lifecycle stages of the community.
YouTuber, Rosianna Halse Rojas discusses how online communities can be a channel for intense engagement on the web.
Top community engagement tactics
As discussed earlier, there are no clear cut engagement tactics that can be applied to any community at any kind of lifecycle stage. However, the following ideas give a sense of the possibilities and help you build on top of these by adding a touch of creativity.
Build an open platform for expression
Every single community thrives on the user-generated content and the members are the most valuable resources a community can have. So, why not give a secure space to the members to express themselves?
Coming to the first rule of community building, i.e., it’s all about them (not you) — always allow members to share what they are working on, what matters to them, their story, and experiences. This can be a great way to cultivate networks by helping members discover peers with similar passions or journeys. After all, stronger networks build stronger communities and people are always eager to get updates from people they follow.
The members of your community are more likely to stick to your community if they believe that their voice is valued and others care about what they have to say.
At Tribe, for example, our success managers often recommend our customers to ensure that they have a space in the community that resonates with an introduction, first-look feedback, etc.
It is great to offer the members a place to express themselves, however, there should be a control on what people can post and cannot post. That’s when your community and content guidelines come into the picture.
Each community has its own set of content policies and engagement rules. However, the moderators should not be rigidly forcing the rules and rely more on common sense. For instance, trust your community members to take care of the community guidelines. If it doesn’t work, moderators can message privately and then, take appropriate action.
Also, it is time to put the community at the center. So, when a member posts something and it is useful, then it certainly makes sense to allow the content (even though it might be self-promotion or not). The yardstick here should be about value delivery to the community instead of putting a blanket ban on something.
Ideally, the community space should invoke a sense of confidence in the members — their contribution is valued and they can truly post anything valuable without worrying about getting punished.
Activities based on member cohorts
There is a range of members in your community — right from lurkers to super users. And each category of these members expects something different from your community.
So, your engagement must also be tailored to suit their needs. If you have direct integration with communication and user engagement tools such as Intercom, you can easily log the member activities inside the tool. This would help you further segment the members based on the level of engagement.
For example, your superusers would want more exclusivity and better access to the team. The members who are not engaged can be motivated by showcasing the benefits of the privileges of superusers.
Run competitions and reward
Conduct occasional competitions in the community in a healthy and friendly manner. The objective of the community can be directing certain user behavior, collecting ideas, or rapid content generation. Run the competition and reward the winners with something tangible — a great way to achieve this in the online community is to offer virtual coins that are closely tied to your payment processing. That way the members can redeem the coins to purchase your products and services.
Here is an example of our client, SmartNora (a snoring solution) running a campaign in their community to source stories from their members around snoring:
Add game mechanics
Gamification is yet another tried and tested way to improve engagement. You can promote quality contributions in the community by setting up gamification tools such as badges, reputation scores, and leaderboards.
Here is a leaderboard of Tribe Community:
A popular example is the Product Hunt leaderboard that was created by a community member to showcase the top products, hunters (members who submit new products) and makers.
In an online community, the gamification rules could be set up for the points that members earn for submitting answers, asking questions, etc. Another example is Quora that rewards the members with badges as “top writer of the year“.
Act quickly and positively
When the members post their ideas, issues, share feedback, and offer suggestions to improve the community or the product itself be highly receptive. Ensure that they know you have indeed recorded their concern and swiftly convey that your team is looking into it.
It is a general practice to not have an unanswered question in the community for more than 24 hours.
Entertain with fun content
If your community can add joy to the lives of the members, then it is of significantly high value. Make it a practice for your internal team to share fun and interesting content. Never overload the community with promotional content.
Also, it can be a good practice to imbibe fun elements in the general posts. Here is an example of a community for healthcare students (yes, quite a serious topic) running on Tribe that keeps things light-hearted by adding humor.
Plan activities to keep members invested
Ensure that your community members are invested in your community (preferably with time). For instance, keep a solid mechanism to encourage the members to complete their profile and add additional services that help you with engagement (e.g., connecting Telegram channel).
You can run monthly competitions to reward the members with the most creative profile. This is yet another tactic to encourage members to open up the new members and allow the existing members to find people with whom they would ideally connect.
Onboard new members
Onboarding new members of your community is a critical socialization process. Note that I have used the term
socialization as it is very similar to going to a place, meeting new people and adopting behavior relevant to that place.
The right onboarding program is not a one-shoe-fits-all type of program. It varies depending on the type of community, the goals associated with the onboarding process and a certain level of expectations with which members join. Managing those expectations with the right expertise and specialization is what makes the onboarding process efficient.
The right onboarding process will have the following characteristics:
- Simple, precise and valuable information
- Must have a mechanism to drive member engagement
- Introduce the community and content guidelines along with the culture
- Provide standardized and personalized onboarding instructions
There are several ways for onboarding new community members — from introduction threads and email sequences to guided tours, buddy programs, and welcome video.
Use engaging content format
Videos have proven to be highly engaging when compared with text and images. That’s the reason, popular social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are heavily pushing for video content and trying to replicate the success of YouTube.
Videos instantly capture the attention of the audience and make it really easy for the content creator to relay the messages.
Time to boost community engagement
That was a compiled list of the top community engagement tactics. Now, it’s time for you to put these ideas into action by modifying and improving them.
At Tribe, we’re ready to help you with a tailored community engagement plan based on your exact requirements and stage of the community.
Looking for additional techniques to keep your members engaged? Check out our really long list of community engagement techniques.