Following up on my recent post on community management best practices, I thought I would share some additional tips and advice – based on my own personal experiences.
Building an online community for your company and brand isn’t rocket science. That being said, there are some simple steps you can take that will facilitate growth and foster engagement with your burgeoning band of advocates (otherwise known as community members).
The five key points from my previous post:
- Participate where the conversations are happening
- Be timely with your responses
- Focus on being people-centric, not company-centric
- Be careful what you say
- Don’t ignore negative comments
Five more I’d like to add:
1. Give new members a warm welcome
It’s important to make new people feel welcome in your community, to set the stage for engagement – particularly when a community is young and growing. If possible, take the time to send a personalized welcome message to new members. Imagine how a new member will feel, receiving a message from a community host or moderator that is uniquely customized and tailored.
If you see a new member contributing to the first time, give that person some recognition. Thank them for their contribution, and try to elicit further discussion or comments if possible – perhaps that member has more to say. Showing a little gratitude will go a long way!
2. Study your community
Yes, study your community! Do your homework! Learn the make-up of your of your community – read member profiles and gain a better sense of just who has joined, and the different types of interests your members have. The more knowledge you have, the better you’ll be able to interact and converse with your community.
3. Monitor community activity and health
Be sure to stay tuned in to your community, from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective. Track key data that is most relevant, whether related to new member joins, commenting activity, voting activity or another metric that you value, and develop reports as deemed appropriate. Keep an eye out for trends! If your community had higher or lower levels of participation that expected during a specific period, dig in and find out why.
4. Communicate with your members
It’s important to keep members appraised of activity in the community. A regular email, if you’re hosting the community on an internal platform, can go a long way. If you’re using Facebook, Twitter or another network, make use of status updates. Just don’t overdo it, however – you’ll need to find the communication mix that is right for your brand.
5. Keep members engaged
Provide community members with incentives for contributing. At Genius Crowds, a product innovation community I used to moderate, we provided community member with gift cards related to different types of community activity – such as posting product ideas, commenting and voting. There’s plenty more you can do. For example, if a new hot topic is posted in the community, send a personal email to members who might be interested, to let them know (this is where your homework on knowing member interests will come in handy!).