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Engagement and Growth Secrets for Brand Communities

Community Conversations #2 Webinar – Recap

Tribe was recently joined by two community-engagement experts, Pablo Gonzalez and Anna Grigoryan, in Tribe’s second edition of the webinar series, Community Conversations. These two community professionals provided practical strategies for improving community engagement, increasing member retention, and driving growth for new brand communities. Pablo and Anna shared their proven methods and techniques to help your brand community flourish and grow steadily.

Our guests, Anna and Pablo, are industry thought leaders in creating engagement and driving growth for online brand communities.

Anna Grigoryan is the writer and founder of Community Weekly, a newsletter for community managers offering valuable advice and tips for building communities. She’s also building a start-up for podcast discovery called Cradle, a community-led startup. 

Pablo Gonzalez is on a mission to prove that community creation is the future of business development. During his work in nonprofits, he learned that communities drive value for companies. As a result, he started a company called BeTheStage.live, a content and marketing strategy agency that creates communities for its clients. 

Tribe’s Francisco Arizmendi conducted this webinar to encourage active discussion between industry experts and community builders. In this webinar, audience members can write in questions and even jump on the microphone to receive personalized, community-based advice. This second community conversation discussed the ups and downs of community engagement and provided some handy tips for increasing activity and driving membership. 

Whether you’re launching your first brand community or shaking up your list of strategies, Tribe can help you build a successful community. This article will cover the most important points from the Engagement and Growth Secrets for Brand Communities webinar, and you can rewatch the webinar via the link. 

Why does community engagement matter, and how can you drive it for your brand community? 

Before we dive into the secret tips and tricks to drive community engagement, you should understand why the concept is important in the first place. Tribe’s marketing manager, Preetish, wrote about the importance of prioritizing engagement in his article about community engagement tactics. “It [engagement] develops and nurtures the sense of belonging in the community, which results in member retention and brand loyalty. Without the engagement, the members would gradually lose the connection, and it would become increasingly hard to move them through different lifecycle stages of the community.”

Community engagement is obviously paramount to solidifying customer loyalty, creating brand evangelists, and selling future products and services. However, increasing community engagement and driving growth is no simple task for community managers. In fact, 55% of community professionals identified consistent community engagement as one of their biggest frustrations with running online communities. 

Even though it can be overwhelming to strategize engagement tactics, be assured that being present with your community is the most important step. According to Vanilla Forum, branded communities with a dedicated community manager consistently outperform those without a dedicated community manager. 

Perhaps, the key to community engagement is to create an accepting, judgment-free environment. According to PeerBoard, 57% of members felt seen in online communities, 28% felt they were respected, and 24% felt they could be themselves. Cultivating welcoming and natural connections can go very far in building a sense of belonging within a thriving community. 

Now that we know why community engagement matters to a successful community, this webinar recap will give you all the efficient hacks and tips you need for growing your community. 

What are the most prominent benefits of creating a brand- community?

Anna was the first to tote branded communities’ incredible opportunities for business. She explained that it’s an opportunity to create an environment where everyone is excited about your product and its mission. By investing in a brand community, you’re investing in relationships in your niche and controlling how your content is presented to your consumers. 

For Pablo Gonzales, he sees the value in assembling what he calls his “superfans.”  According to Pablo, there is nothing more powerful than two of your super consumers talking about how much they love your product in front of a prospect. He’s correct, considering 92% of people trust brand recommendations from people they know. Branded communities lower the cost of client acquisition while increasing the lifetime value of your clientele. 

Francisco Arizmendi agreed, saying that the most valuable customers are the ones you can build that emotional connection with. He explained that you have to earn word of mouth–you can’t just buy it–you must put in the time and effort to create a thriving community. 

How do you position your community in a way that attracts and interests people?

It can be difficult to spread the word about your community, let alone convert prospective members into active users. Pablo advises community builders to simplify the process by getting intentional about their community’s value proposition. 

Pablo explained that the value of your community should be loud and clear for your community members. Your community should offer something for your members to gain, whether that’s networking, personal development, achieving goals, or receiving perks. Give your members something in return to attract active members in the first place.

Anna agreed, reiterating that understanding your community’s value proposition and mission is the most important thing. She said that you need to properly craft a community that attracts members. 

According to Anna, your community’s angle should be creating a place where your members go for answers or a knowledge-based community. Learn about what frustrates your prospective members and what struggles they may face. Then, create a collaborative and co-creation environment early on with tiny feedback loops. 

Francisco added that community managers should understand the pain points of their target community members and see which ones they can solve. Then, figure out how to leverage those community features to grab the attention of new members. 

Is it normal to have low community engagement at the beginning? How do I ignite that growth?

This is a common fear for community managers, but Anna wants to assure you that you’re doing just fine. Before panicking about engagement, she advises that community moderators create their own engagement metric unique to their community. For example, you could measure how many people received answers to questions on a given day or how many members participated in the latest accountability challenge. She believes the way to start analyzing engagement is to devise an engagement metric unique to your niche. 

Pablo contributed a fun analogy for igniting growth. He said when you’re trying to build a branded community, you first need to build the avengers! He advises finding 10-15 highly-engaged community members, glorifying them, and putting them on a pedestal. Those 10-15 people become your brand’s super consumers, influencers, and best advocates. 

Pablo realized the fastest way to find your group of avengers is to host a cohort class. A class allows your students to go on a journey together or share an experience. He recommends pairing the course with weekly office hours to start a weekly ritual or meeting point for your students. These are just a few ways to get your best members to show up regularly and start recruiting your avengers.

Identifying and leveraging your super fans is part of the community-led growth concept. Community-led growth can help ease your engagement concerns because the idea is to let your members do the heavy lifting. According to Duncan Elder, “community-led growth is a go-to-market strategy in which companies build communities of enthusiastic customers. When done well, these communities add significant value to the product experience.” 

How do you grow from a one-to-many to a many-to-many community?

Anna advises creating accountability groups within your community if you want to grow to a many-to-many community platform. Build a reliable weekly or monthly meeting where your members will receive something for their participation. Giving feedback and advice will contribute to sustainable growth for your community. 

Additionally, Anna suggests taking the content from those feedback sessions and distributing it widely to all internet users, not just your members. Go to the social media platforms where your target audience is the most active, whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, or other online forums. You’ll slowly increase brand awareness and drive prospective members to your community. 

Pablo also agreed to find where your target community members are hanging out and plant seeds in multiple pots across multiple ecosystems. You’re not looking to go viral but to understand which type of content receives the most activity on your social media platforms.  Periodically, Pablo also suggests reaching out to your members for case studies and qualitative feedback; those insights will help you grow. 

How do you grow a small but active community?

This question came from a viewer looking to expand their small but active community of 50 people. She explained that she had done significant promotion and onboarding procedures, yet the members were slowly trickling in. 

Pablo suggested going to your community for help. He emphasized the concept of hand-to-hand networking and asking your community members what would incentivize them to invite three friends. 

Besides referrals, Anna asked attendees to be clear about their community’s value proposition. A community should not just be about plugging your company’s services and products. You need to dive into the viewpoint of your community members, align with their needs, and get feedback on what type of content they want. 

Pablo drove home the idea of growing your community’s value proposition. He explained that your community members desire more than just being amazing at using your product. A more significant value proposition for your member is to crush their career. Brands that go above and beyond advertising or plugging their own products will increase their value proposition and easily retain their members. 

Our team is struggling with inspiration for content. What do you do when you’re lacking inspiration and experiencing a creative block?

Even though constantly churning out content can be challenging, Anna suggested talking to your members and creating case studies. Ask your members what they are interested in and what they want to hear from you. 

She advised starting an accountability group to gather information and ask members about their interests. She also contributed this amazing cheat code–head to answerthepublic.com to see what people are googling on that topic, and it might spark your inspiration. 

Pablo agreed it’s important to talk to your people but advised community managers to be bold and steal like an artist. Look at another community or content stream and see what’s working for them. He also added that even though engagement questions work, don’t forget to dive into the psychology of why those tactics work and how they make you feel.

How do you organize communities within multilingual countries? Do you recommend one community for each language or adding translation functionalities to both?

Anna loved this question because she speaks four languages. As a member of multiple multilingual communities, she said they operate under one umbrella community of the majority spoken language and then with sub-communities hosted under other languages. 

Anna explained that even though promoting things in English is easy, users still need resources that are not in English. Also, creating a community within a specific language is a major plus, especially if you’re trying to establish yourself within that country. 

Pablo agreed that creating a community in another language, like Spanish, drives a funnel towards it. Since so much of the internet is in English, there’s an opportunity to connect people across different borders, cultures, and languages.

Plus, Pablo said not to shy away from hosting communities in multiple languages. For example, many people speak more than one language, or there’s an overlap between languages like Spanglish. So many people could identify with that crossover and overlap. 

If community managers want to advertise multilingual features to expand their community, Anna believes it’s important to have moderators who speak multiple languages, so they can efficiently communicate in those sub-communities. 

Final Takeaways from The Engagement and Growth Secrets for Brand Communities Webinar

How do you drive community engagement? 

  • Get clear on your community’s value proposition–what’s in it for your community members?
  • Create accountability groups within your community–find reasons for your members to participate. 
  • Assemble the avengers–lift up and shine a light on your most active members.

How do you increase online community membership? 

  • Take content from your community and spread it across multiple online groups.
  • Get qualitative feedback about what’s going well in your community and what would incentivize your members to send referrals. 
  • Steal like an artist. Visit your favorite other community sites and get inspired by their content ideas. 

Generating online community engagement and increasing membership is not an easy task, but there are steps you can take to find the secret recipe for success. We hope this recap of the Engagement and Growth Secrets for Brand Communities Webinar gave you some helpful insights and perspectives. Join us at our next industry-expert webinar by visiting Tribe’s Campfire Community. As always, we appreciate any feedback you may have about our webinars

Tribe is a customizable community platform designed to seamlessly integrate into the customer journey so you can build an empowering community for your business. Speak to a Tribe expert today to learn about the platform and how to build stronger customer relationships. 

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Emma Levin

Emma is a digital content writer for the entertainment, travel, and marketing industries. In her spare time, she's traveling the world, meditating, or cruising on her skateboard.

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