Top 10 Creative Community Engagement Strategies You Can Try Today

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10 min

Top 10 Creative Community Engagement Strategies You Can Try Today

DATE
READ TIME
10 min
WRITTEN BY
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Would you prefer your community to feel like a trip to the convenience store or a trip to Disneyland? One is functional, convenient and friendly enough. But the other is a place where dreams come true! Each visit is fresh and exciting, every interaction feels meaningful and fun, and the wastepaper baskets even empty themselves. For those of us looking for community engagement strategies, there’s a lot we could learn.

Of course, you could make the argument that people make trips to the convenience store daily – holidays are fun but short-lived. So why not have the best of both worlds? Create a space online that members return to like clockwork because every moment feels like magic. To get started, follow our top 10 tips for more creative, exciting and meaningful community engagement.

How to engage your community: 10 simple tips to bring the magic

Whether community management is your job or just one of the many hats you wear when running your business, the following community engagement strategies are for you. Based in tried-and-tested methods that are easy to pull off, they can mean the difference between a somewhat chatty social media group and an online home where people share and grow together. 

Part One: Leading with gusto

4 tips to create a community that trusts its leader

1. Start every member’s journey with a
warm welcome

1. Start every member’s journey with a warm welcome

“Hello there! Welcome aboard. We’re so glad you joined us for a, b and c. Why not introduce yourself in our new arrivals thread? Tell us about your favourite x, y or z!”

You could say something like that. Or you could say nothing at all and cross your fingers! But if you do, you’re missing an opportunity to help new members make themselves feel at home. All it takes is a few quick words of encouragement and direction to let them know they’re in the right place, among the right people. An automated email or DM would do the trick nicely.

For bonus points, consider setting up weekly or monthly ice-breaker events along with fun ways for newbies to greet each other.

Food For Thought

Food For
Thought

In the average online
community, only 7% of
members take part
in
activities.

In the average online community, only 7% of members take part in activities.

They need encouragement!

Further Reading

Learn more about warm welcomes

2. Give members a reason to invest time in
their profile

2. Give members a reason to invest time in their profile
community member profile strategy

Online, your profile is your passport. A way for others to see who you are, what you’re about, why they should know and trust you. For sites like Amazon, it’s stuff like postal address and bank details. For an online community, it’s passions, experiences, opinions.

Without a profile, it’s harder for people to get to know each other. So to avoid them leaving dissatisfied, give a little encouragement. As part of your community engagement strategies, you can explain what they could gain or, better yet, inspire them! Your community is likely built on a shared passion, so ask them to tap into that. You could even run competitions for the most interesting new profiles. Get creative!

Food For Thought

66%

of members say connecting with people who share their
interests
is what they love most about online community

of members say connecting with people who share their interests is what they love most about online community

Help them find out!

Further Reading

Going even further than profiles:

3. Be responsive, lead by example
don’t miss out!

3. Be responsive, lead by example don’t miss out!

manage community conversations

You’ve built the space, attracted the people, got things going – the dream is on track! Now for the fun part… meaningful connections with people who share your vision.

Dialogue is what it’s all about, and your members look to you to show them the way. It’s not enough to post and run, or start a conversation and not listen for the answer. Instead, respond to comments with observations, feedback, follow-up questions, or tag other members who might be interested. Otherwise, your people could start to feel invisible.

As the community manager, you don’t have to micro-manage every conversation but you should try to be present on the community platform, visible and approachable.

Food For THoughT

Around 60% of people
say they don’t trust
Facebook and Instagram

Around 60% of people say they don’t trust Facebook and Instagram

Prove you’re different!

Further Reading

More about community leadership:

4. Moderate firmly but fairly to keep trust and order in your community

4. Moderate firmly but fairly to keep trust and order in your community

Leading by example extends beyond inviting people to take part. You also need to set the expectation of how to behave. And remember, you get to define exactly what that means, especially if your community space is owned by you instead of Facebook or any other tech company. So what makes sense for your individual community?

Whatever your rules and guidelines are, it’s up to you to enforce them. So plan your community-building ahead. What will you do if a debate gets too heated? Where do you draw the line on appropriate content? How will you balance being the friendly face with the authority figure? It’s nothing to worry about but it’s best to be prepared

Food For Thought

71%

of users think most social platforms don’t do enough
to tackle cyberbullying

of users think most social platforms don’t do enough
to tackle cyberbullying

Prove you’re different

Further Reading

More about community moderation

Part Two: Making it meaningful

4 tips to create a community that trusts its leader

5. Forge deeper connections in the community with sub-groups

Who are your community members, really? They all share an obvious connection – it’s how you brought them together – but a closer look could be revealing.

In most thriving communities, especially larger ones, leaders notice trends in what members do and say and evolve the community accordingly. For example, if you ran a yoga community and consistently saw members talking about practicing during their workdays, you could create a space dedicated to that topic. This usually leads to deeper conversations and connections and shows you understand what your members want.

Another great community engagement strategy is to seek out your most and least engaged members. If they’re quiet, you could offer encouragement to help them get involved more. If they’re loud and proud, you may be able to bring them closer to your inner circle and get their help. We call these ‘super members’, and there’s more on that later…

Food For Thought

Online community members are 44% more likely to interact with posts about niche interests

Give them places to
share it!

Give them places to share it!

Further Reading

Highly engaged segments:

6. Migrate from social media to your own private community

When you’re starting out, using social media to build a following is a given. Millions of potential fans and followers gathered in one place is attractive. But it’s also distracting, risky and increasingly controversial.

If you’re after genuine loyalty, deeper connections and a more meaningful space online to call your own, social media isn’t a long-term solution. A far more rewarding and reliable option is to create your own purpose-built platform (don’t worry – it’s easier than it sounds – Disciple provides just the platform to help you take your community to the next level) and to help your members migrate across. 

You’ll likely trim the fat a bit and lose some of your unengaged members in the process, but that’s no bad thing. To help smooth the transition, make sure you have your community engagement strategies all polished up. You can highlight the benefits of your new space, post a steady stream of high-quality content there, and stay visible and accessible in case of questions. 

create private community

Food For Thought

5%

Average social media group
5% total members engaged

Average social media group 5% total members engaged

Help them find out!

50%

Average online community
50% total members engaged

Average online community
50% total members engaged

Further Reading

More about social media migration

7. Give people the courage and tools to express themselves

community enagement tools

Most online community members don’t set out with the intention of staying silent in the shadows, lurking and liking but rarely pitching in. Some are happy to just absorb information, and do still feel part of the club, but most people join for human connection and self-expression.

We’ve already covered how to foster early connections between members with warm welcomes, but it needn’t end there – especially if you have control of your own private community space. Experiment with opinion polls, brainstorms and debates, creative challenges, digital get-togethers. Get creative! You could even ask your members for ideas.

A great way to make people feel at ease with sharing is to give express permission – create a ‘Photos Thursday’ or ‘Sunday Reflections’ ritual where everyone is invited to share, comment and connect without judgement.

Food For Thought

Online community members in a survey prioritised meaningful conversations, feeling respected, and being themselves

They want to feel heard!

Further Reading

Learn more about visual content

Part Three: Bringing the joy

3 tips to create a community that’s cherished and enjoyed

8. Make it meaningful and fun to be your fan

community-engagement-strategies.png

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Surprising then, how many online communities seem to fall at this hurdle, making their spaces feel like one long advert. While promotions are important, especially if you aim to monetize your community, there must be a balance.

As a rough guide, aim for 50/50. No more than half of your posts should be promotions-focused – everything else should be your original, engaging and exclusive content and conversations.

Also, remember your community engagement strategies can involve other people. Let your members bring the fun too. Across the communities we build and support, over 98% of content comes from the members. When you give them the space to be themselves, using features like our fan wall, fun has a tendency to create itself.

Food For Thought

55%

of community leaders say engaging members consistently is one of their biggest challenges

Look for inspiration!

9. Include eye candy wherever possible

Online, a picture’s value isn’t just that it tells a thousand words, it’s that it grabs attention better than anything else. Walls of text have their place, but visually pleasing content is more likely to make someone stop, look and feel something instead of scrolling on.

It’s a neat trick. So the next time you write a post, or create a new feature, think about how you could make it pop. You don’t need an art degree – simply attaching a relevant image or GIF can do wonders. Or if you really want to add a personal touch, shoot a quick to-camera video. You could try a few practice runs first if you need to get comfortable with it.

use interesting images

Food For Thought

68%

of people want
image-based content

See what works for you!

50%

want
video content

5%

want
text content

Further Reading

More about epic engagement

10. Let the games begin for next-level engagement

Gamification is the process of making something more playful, interactive and engaging by tapping into our emotions and psychology. Combining positive experiences, instant feedback, motivation, competition and rewards, gamification keeps members hooked.

One basic idea you could try out is Top Fan Points, which you award members each time they take part in activities and honour on a leader board. What might you offer as a weekly prize?

Better yet, what game would suit your community’s vision or purpose? Fitness communities might host weekly ranked dance challenges. Literary communities might collaborate on a story, taking turns to write a paragraph. Learning communities might award badges for completing a course. If you can tie gamification as a community engagement strategy to what your members love, you’ll surely be onto a winner.

gamify your community

Better yet, what game would suit your community’s vision or purpose? Fitness communities might host weekly ranked dance challenges. Literary communities might collaborate on a story, taking turns to write a paragraph. Learning communities might award badges for completing a course. If you can tie gamification to what your members love, you’ll surely be onto a winner.

Food For Thought

Are you looking to grow, engage with and monetise your own community?

Create your very own community platform, on Web, iOS and Android. Gather, engage and
profit from your community in a safe space that you control. Your community, your rules.

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