Top tips on how to engage community online.

Top tips on how to engage community online.

Lawrence Court - Disciple
10 min read • 15 Mar 2018

No matter the size, subject or style of community you run, community engagement is essential. Maintaining high levels of engagement within your community will turn it into a thriving, exciting place to be. So, we want to share our top tips on how to engage community.

Community engagement will increase your levels of retention, which is one of the most important metrics for any community builder. It will keep your existing members happy and coming back for more. It will bring new users to your community and instantly make them feel part of something.

I could go on. The benefits of engaging a community really are endless. So let’s talk about how to engage community.

crowd gathers around bubbles

As we mentioned earlier, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to community engagement. Each community is different and will respond to different types of content and campaigns. But there are some key community engagement strategies that can help you build initial engagement. And, by the time you’ve familiarised yourself with these methods and tried them out for yourself, you’ll have a really good understanding of what works for your community. And, just as importantly, what doesn’t. So let’s talk about how to engage community.

1. Give access to exclusive content

Saving some of your best, most engaging content for a select group of your most committed fans and followers is a great way to reward community loyalty and generate positive engagement. Think of a time that you’ve been given exclusive access to content by a celebrity or a brand that you love. It feels good, right? So keep that in mind when thinking of ways to build exclusivity into your community.

Fans love to feel as though they’re getting a backstage and behind-the-scenes experience. Perhaps it’s a glimpse into your warm-up routine before you go on stage. It could be a livestream from the backstage set of the movie your currently filming. Or photos of something you’ve written with all your edits and scribbles all over it. Or a video of you with your family or going about your normal daily life.

Getting these glimpses into your real life and seeing you as a normal person, rather than your celebrity-self or the self that your followers normally see, creates a sense of proximity between your fans and you. Creating this feeling amongst your community is an excellent way to drive engagement.

2. Run competitions to engage your community

Competitions are an excellent way to generate huge amounts of engagement in your community. And it’s really not difficult to do. All you need to do is identify one or a few things that would be really valuable to your community. Perhaps it’s a ticket to meet you in person. Perhaps it’s a signed copy of your latest CD, book or movie. It could be free entry to one of your classes, concerts or appearances.

No matter who you are or what you do, you’ll be able to find something that can be used as the incentive or prize in a competition. So get thinking!

If you’d like some inspiration, here’s an example of a really successful competition one of our current customers ran recently:

Luke Bryan is an American country music sensation and global star. One of his marketing channels is a paid, subscription-based Disciple app, which he uses to engage and monetise his community of fans and followers.

Whenever he’s in tour – which is pretty often – he runs an exclusive app-only meet and greet competition ahead of each of his shows. Using the livestream functionality in his app, he sends out a live video from outside that night’s concert venue and reveals the location of two meet and greet tickets hidden somewhere near the venue. Whoever sees the video and gets there first, wins the tickets and gets to meet Luke after his show!

The beauty of this competition is that it is only available to people who are paying subscribers in his app community. This builds exclusivity into his community as his members are getting an experience with Luke in his app that they won’t be able to get anywhere else. So, this acts as a really strong pull factor for new members to the community and ensures that members keep coming back to the app for their opportunity to win the golden tickets.

So, hope this will give you some idea on how to engage community with competitions. Keep in mind, it doesn’t need to be complicated and the prize doesn’t need to be extremely high value. Just try to offer members of your community something that they won’t be able to get anywhere else.

3. Find the right content

Content can be anything and anything can be content. As long as you use it correctly and make it relevant to your community.

The main type of content for community engagement is the content that you, as the host and content creator, are best known for. For musicians, this is music. For writers; books, articles and blogs. For photographers; photos and videos. For health and wellness gurus; video tutorials and healthy eating guides. For celebrity chefs; cookbooks and recipes. If your community is centred around a specific subject or issue, then thoughtful and interesting posts from you on this topic will be great content for your community.

Then there’s commercial and D2C content. D2C means ‘Direct to Consumer’ and refers to any revenue-focussed content that drives people to your online store, ticketing site or paid subscription sign-up page. We recommend that you don’t go too crazy with the commercial content because your fans and followers don’t want to feel like they’re just being monetised. As a rough guide, try to keep your commercial and D2C content at about 20% of your overall content strategy, leaving 80% of your content purely for community engagement.

Next, there’s the content that isn’t created by you or your community, but is relevant and good to share for your community. It is extremely time consuming to create original content all the time and not everyone has time for that. So, why not try sharing some of the content created by your community? This is called UGC or User Generated Content. For example, if one of your fans takes a really good photo at one of your shows, share it with the community. Or, if one of your followers writes an interesting review of some of your work, share it with everyone.

For the fan whose work is being shared throughout the community, it’s a great feeling. For the other fans, it’s a great incentive to share their work with the community in the hopes of being featured by you one day. And for you, it takes off some of the pressure of creating and posting your content. Everybody wins!

Happy girl smiling on the street

4. Segment your audience to get the highest community engagement

When brands consider how to engage community the often assume that all of the content will be relevant and engaging to all of the community. But, in some cases, segmenting your audience and sending really specific information to a specific subsection of the audience can generate some great engagement.

Here’s an example:

If you’re doing a concert, event, show, signing or anything at a venue, why not target some content specifically at the people who live in that city or near that venue ahead of the show? This is called geo-location targeting and we’ve seen some of our customers put it to great use on our platform.

ODESZA are great at this. When they came to London for a recent show, they sent out a push notification to all of their app subscribers in London alerting them to a pair of free tickets to whoever got to a specific location first.

This kind of smart segmentation is an awesome way to generate community engagement as it creates a really fun and exclusive user experience, tailored specifically to them.

5. Find the right tone

Finding the tone that works for you and your members is an important part when you try to figure out how to engage community. Your tone will be a big part of your identity within the community and the identity of the community as a whole.

So be yourself. Be natural and use the tone that naturally comes to you when you communicate with your community. For the vast majority of people, their natural tone is their most engaging because it’s authentic and original. Your audience and community will respond best to you and engage most with you when you’re being yourself and speaking naturally about your community. Whether you’re writing a post, meeting your community face-to-face or speaking in a livestream, just be yourself.

And err on the side of enthusiasm! Enthusiasm is contagious and the more often you speak with enthusiasm, interest and passion, the more your community will respond. This shared enthusiasm will bring a positive and uplifting atmosphere to your environment, which will engage people and encourage them to come back for more!

So find the right tone for you and speak to your community as enthusiastically as often as you can.

6. Moderate your content

For the most part, the people in your community will contribute positively and abide by the community rules. However, we also have to acknowledge that there are trolls out there who want to post inappropriate, offensive and upsetting material in community spaces to provoke a reaction.

In order to keep control of the community and ensure it continues to be a positive place, you’ll need to actively moderate your community. The first thing you need to do is set out some clear community guidelines. Add a screen to your subscription process that shows people clearly what your community will and won’t tolerate. You can add a tickbox to make sure people opt in and agree to your terms of use before they can access any shared community spaces.

Unfortunately, trolls will often make it past this stage, agree to your community guidelines and post offensive content anyway. This is really difficult to stop completely. What you can do though, is moderate the content that gets uploaded to your app. Just keep an eye out for anything offensive or inappropriate and delete those posts as soon as you see them. Block any users who repeatedly post offensive content.

7. Encourage your members to engage with each other

When our customers want to find out how to engage community, we say that one of the key things to remember about your community is that everyone has a voice and everyone has some great content to contribute! We recently learned that 98% of content in each of the app communities is created by users. So there’s an encouraging thought for you. It’s not all down to you.

When you first set out in building and engaging your community, you’ll need to do more. You’ll need to post and talk about your community in lots of different places to drive people to your new community platform. And you’ll need to post lots in your community app or website to make sure there’s lots of engaging content there for when your new members arrive.

So, to start with, you’ll be busy. But, once you’ve established your community, got some really engaging content in there and moderated your users to make sure everyone is contributing positively, you can ease off a bit and let your users interact with one another. Don’t forget, your members are all there because they have something in common. Whether it’s their passion for your art, their shared interest in a particular issue or you all play the same sport, there’s something that your community members all have in common.

You can encourage your community to interact with one another. Make sure the community has their own space where they can post things and start conversations with one another. To get the ball rolling, you can ask an open question in their space and encourage people to respond.

And make sure you respond to people to. Don’t just post your content in your own space and forget all about your members. Talk to them individually. Comment on their photos. Answer their questions. Get involved and get to know your community. In no time, you’ll see engagement go through the roof!

So, there you go. Now that you’ve read our guide on how to engage community, you’re ready to get going!

Disciple professional community management platform helps people build independent, valuable and trusted communities in a safe space that they own and control. Get your own community app today!

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