Most New Year’s resolutions don’t survive very long, but achieving a more successful online community in 2017 doesn’t have to be impossible. Here are five tips to help you build a stronger, more successful community:
1. Research your audience. The first step to a more successful and engaged online community is understanding the needs and wants of your audience. By analyzing the current situation, you will have the knowledge necessary to start relevant conversations, build relationships, and establish a foundation that will enable community growth in 2017.
2. Listen to understand. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to respond. To establish a successful community and make a more powerful impact, observe how community members engage, what questions are asked, how users comment, and what content is appreciated and shared. Through listening, we learn and understand; your organization can use this insight to better engage with your audience and enhance the community experience.
3. Engage and reward. For an online community to be successful, it must be sustainable. That sustainability is created through engagement. In 2017, focus on building an online community where members discuss questions and answers and collaborate with one another, not just your online brand. Quality conversation adds value to the customer experience, retains and attracts community members, and transforms users into brand advocates.
Also, reward active community members. Invite them to participate in online webinars, award them with an expert badge, or grant them moderator status in niche topic discussions. This will not only lead to quality engagement but also provides an incentive for members to actively participate.
4. Increase community visibility. Community members may drive online conversation, but it falls to you to inform your audience. There are many simple ways to promote your online community. Schedule monthly live chats to further engagement on popular topics. Use email alerts to notify members of new discussion opportunities. Or, send email newsletters highlighting community activity. At DZone.com, our own community site for developers and software professionals, we send daily emails showcasing the top trends being discussed on the website. This tactic promotes our online community, but also sparks interest, invites others to join the conversation, and increases web traffic.
5. Show your community’s ROI. A strong community attracts new members, retains current users, and can potentially transform audience members into customers. Online communities are an investment in the success of your company – remember to show the return on that investment. Review metrics, improve where necessary, and track numbers back to your 2017 business goals.