If you’re wondering why community engagement is so important, the benefits of community engagement, and what counts as good community engagement we’ve got you covered.
We’ve helped tonnes of brands and influencers to create online communities and we’ve seen how much they’ve grown their businesses as a result of having strong community engagement.
If you want to find out how you can benefit, in this article we’ll cover:
- What community engagement is
- Why community engagement matters
- The benefits of community engagement
- 5 Ways to boost online community engagement
- How to measure community engagement effectively
What is community engagement?
It’s becoming increasingly understood that the true value of a user base lies not in its size, but rather in its depth of engagement. As such, a new trend is emerging. One in which influencers and businesses place community building and community engagement strategies at the heart of their marketing activity.
The benefits of online community building and community engagement are endless. It’ll drive more leads, improve brand loyalty, and increase user retention. Also, having an active and engaged community is more cost-effective than spending thousands of dollars on Facebook and AdWords in order to drive more leads.
In a nutshell, community engagement is the process of building and nurturing your customers, users, and/or fans. However, it’s essential to understand that there are different types of community and each of them has its own values and interests. So, in most cases, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and your community engagement strategies will often vary depending on your niche or industry. Testing out different approaches with your audience is the fastest way to understand what does and doesn’t make your community tick.
Why community engagement matters?
Community engagement is the difference between us passively buying a product or service every now and again Vs us being a loyal and committed fan of a person, product, or service. It’s also the difference between talking at people or talking with people. The reality is when we feel heard, understood, and surrounded by those who ‘get it’ we’re much more likely to engage with them. We’re much more likely to shout about a product or service and share it with our friends and family if we feel like we’re a valued member of a community. And, we’re much more likely to remain loyal, when we feel like we’re a part of something bigger.
Benefits of community engagement
1. Increase customer retention
When it comes to the benefits of community engagement customer retention always comes to mind. Engagement is what keeps your community alive. Without engagement, there’d be nothing to keep your users, fans, followers, and friends coming back to wherever it is that you host your community. This is known as retention.
Retention is vital to any community because it is an essential factor for growth. Attracting new members to your community is really important for initial growth. But, retaining your existing members by keeping them happy and engaged, whilst bringing new people into your community, is the key to sustained growth and the lasting success of the community you’re building.
Retention is a really important measure of how well your brand and community are doing. It essentially measures the percentage of people who are returning to your community. The higher your retention, the more engaging your community is there’s something that keeps people coming back for more. So this is super important.
Building engagement levels within your community is a great way to increase retention. If your community is a fun, engaging, and exciting place to be, your members are much more likely to keep coming back. So make sure your community is adding unique value to your members. Something they won’t find anywhere else.
That’ll keep them coming back. And that means they’re much more likely to think of you and your brand the next time they’re looking for whatever it is that you do best. And that association will set you apart from your competitors and build a loyal, engaged community around you.
2. Find opportunities to earn more money
Building engagement will create great opportunities to make money from your happy and engaged members. Giving them access to your exclusive content or running competitions, for example, will ensure that your brand maintains its presence within the minds of your community members.
This is often referred to as Customer Relationship Management, which is the discipline of managing your customer’s relationship with your brand and ensuring that your brand is always present in the minds of your audience. By keeping your brand, product or community in the minds of your current and potential customers, you can create excellent opportunities to sell your products or services to them. For many brands, this is one of the top benefits of community engagement
People who love your brand will buy more from you. People who engage regularly with your brand values and messaging are more likely to choose your brand when they’re making a decision on where to make their next purchase. This is one of the most important benefits that community engagement strategies can bring.
At Disciple, we offer a range of monetization options: subscriptions, sponsored, in-app purchases, and e-commerce. Our community platform gives you the tools you need to gather, engage, and monetize your most valuable community.
3. Skyrocket brand loyalty
Establishing a brand community gives your customers so many more touchpoints and reasons to come into contact with your brand values and your messaging.
Normally, customers only come into contact with your brand when they’re purchasing or using your product or service. But, if they join and actively participate in a customer community, they’ll be thinking and speaking about your brand much more often.
This is known as lifecycle marketing. And the more your customers come into contact with your brand, the stronger presence your brand will have in your customers’ lives.
Brand loyalty is one of the key benefits of community engagement.
4. Build up brand advocacy
Gathering a customer community of your most engaged customers, fans, and followers, will almost inevitably result in great advocacy. Advocacy occurs when customers are so pleased with the products and services they receive from a brand, that they essentially go and market that brand to all of their friends. For free!
Advocacy is a great thing for any brand because people are more likely to believe their friends than any of your marketing material. It is similar to peer-to-peer marketing because there is already a level of trust established between the advocate and the listener. You’ll be amazed at how beneficial advocacy can be for your business.
And building an online brand community is an awesome way to encourage advocacy. Gathering together a group of your most engaged customers, giving them amazing content and conversations to be a part of will ultimately lead to brand advocacy.
5. Improve customer support
Building a brand community will give your brand more identity and make you stand out from the crowd. Every brand says that they really care about their customers, as every brand should. But, not every brand cares about their customers enough to take the time to build an online customer community for them. But you do.
That already speaks volumes about your brand and how much you care about your customers. By bringing them all together into a brand community, you show your customers that you listen to them and want to give them a space to discuss your brand, the lifestyle your brand helps to create, and any issues surrounding your products.
This essentially turns your customer community into a customer communication management tool. Similarly to a feedback loop, you’ll be able to see customers posting about how great your products are, but also, any issues they’re having with your products. This gives you the ability to be proactive and tell your brand community that you’re aware of the issues and already resolving them.
6. Get consumer insights
Data is everything now. And one of the greatest benefits of community engagement is that you can turn your community into a focus group. Your online social network can give you really useful insights into what your customers want and the challenges they face. This is vital information for you and you use that information to inform everything you do.
When marketing your product or service, position your messaging so that you’re solving a particular problem. One that you know your customers are facing right now.
5 Ways to boost online community engagement
Community engagement builds stronger relationships, it’s what makes people loyal to your brand, and as we’ve discussed, focusing your energy on driving it has a huge number of benefits. We’ve listed 5 quick wins to boost engagement below:
Let’s face it, people who are clear on all of the features and benefits of using your product or service are much more likely to make use of it, recommend it to others, and be willing to invest more money in the future. Using your community as a space to inform and empower customers in the form of Livestreams, answering questions, or sharing answers to FAQ’s is a great way for people to learn more about you and what you can offer.
People love to feel appreciated. Showing your community that you value them and their engagement by finding ways to reward and celebrate them is a great way to encourage your audience to interact and engage. This can be via personalized shout outs on your community, implementing gamification tactics like giving badges to loyal members or simply sending them gift vouchers or discount codes for your product or service. This is a crucial step to creating a community that your members will love to be a part of.
3. Create raving fans
One of the most effective ways to build trust is to share the success stories and results from your existing customers. Encouraging your customers to share their experiences and share user-generated content or reviews is a great way to strengthen your offering. The best way to do this is to incentivize your audience with rewards, regularly getting their feedback, and always being willing to provide amazing customer support.
If you really want to boost community engagement, you must be willing to connect with your audience on a deeper and more emotional level. People truly do buy from people. People who they feel connected to. Creating videos and being open and vulnerable, or lasering in on people’s struggles or pain points are great ways to get people’s buy-in.
The best way to improve a product or service is to get feedback from your existing customers. Regularly asking questions, encouraging them to open about what they do and don’t love, and listening to their views is a crucial way to build a healthy community.
How to measure community engagement?
There are two key metrics you can use to measure community engagement:
Retention measures the percentage of your community that comes back after subscribing or visiting for the first time. For example, let’s say that 10 people subscribe to join your community on Monday. Of those 10 people, 7 come back on Thursday. This would give you a 70% rate of retention over a three-day period.
Retention is also commonly referred to as “stickiness”.
Churn is the exact opposite of retention. It measures the number of people who stop coming back to your community, or drop off. So, let’s use the same example we used for retention. 10 people subscribe to join your community on Monday. Of those 10 people, 7 come back on Thursday. This gives you a churn of 30%. So this means that 30% of your community has stopped engaging with you and your community.
Churn is also commonly referred to as “drop-off”.
Reap the Benefits of Community Engagement with Disciple
Disciple is all about enabling the benefits of community engagement. We understand that community leaders are tired of social media companies like Facebook placing arbitrary restrictions on user-generated content, banning community members without notifying community leaders and imposing their own monetisation agenda on the community.
Our approach couldn’t be more different. Instead of telling you what you can’t do, we provide tools, technology and guidance to brands, community organisations, instructors and others so that they can build the online community they always envisioned, and then we get out of the way.
Here are some of the features we offer that allow you to reap the benefits of community engagement.
Private messaging – Even now, many social media platforms require their members to exit to a 3rd party app to send private messages to others in the community. Not Disciple. We understand how enabling community members to carry on private conversations within the community’s digital ecosphere enhances long term engagement.
Livestreaming – It’s incumbent on community leaders to provide an opportunity for community-wide engagement from time to time and livestreaming of community events, product launches and such is a great way to do that.
Polls – People love polls for lots of reasons. But community decision-makers love polls because they’re a simple and effective way to engage large numbers of community members, drive lively discussions or take the pulse of the community on issues that may impact its direction.
Push notifications – If you want to reap the benefits of community engagement you sometimes have to gently prod community members to get engaged. One of the best ways to do that is with push notifications. With Disciple, you can send them to everyone, just members of a certain subgroup, or even to select individuals.
Commenting – Commenting is the bread and butter of community engagement, just ask YouTube, the world’s 2nd most popular website. Disciple allows both standard commenting and threaded comments which allow individual members to engage in lively back-and-forths.
If you are to enjoy the benefits of community engagement you need the kind of tools and support you get from Disciple Media.
There’s no denying it, community engagement provides you with a huge number of benefits to grow your business. If you’d like to find out how we can help you to supercharge your engagement even further with your own community platform. Get in touch today.