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Community engagement

Definition

Community engagement, in a nutshell, is all about crafting a coherent set of processes to nurture the members and investing in member development. This boosts the number of active people are in your community. An active community builds more value and helps members create stronger relationships.

The best way to encourage engagement is to ensure your community has a clear, worthwhile purpose. If this is the case, engagement will often occur organically.

Beyond this, community managers can encourage engagement by seeding content and organizing AMAs, webinars, or discussions. Good moderation also helps, as it ensures conversations stay valuable and on-topic.

What is community engagement?

In simple terms, community engagement is the set of activities and processes that a business puts in place to develop a relationship with its community members. Often the types of interactions go above and beyond just posting messages in the group. 

Instead, to properly engage with the community, organizations should focus on responding to group member postings or holding an open forum session for members to ask the company and moderator questions. 

As you continue to engage with your community and member growth increases, you’ll notice that community engagement will happen naturally amongst members.

Are there benefits to community engagement?

There are very few areas that a business can invest time and resources into that offer the same ROI opportunities as community engagement. By frequently engaging with your community members, you’re building brand loyalty and increasing customer retention without spending an abundance of your marketing dollars. 

Frequent community engagement can also be a great way to foster brand advocacy amongst your most loyal customers. 

Here are a few other benefits that come with consistent community engagement efforts:

  • – Uncover new opportunities to increase overall revenue
  • – Improve customer support 
  • – Gather consumer insights on products or services
  • – Test new products with loyal customers

Why is community engagement important?

Community engagement is important for several reasons, but the most important is building brand loyalty with your customers. 

Often organizations will have a group of customers who use the brand’s products or services exclusively. This group is often referred to as brand advocates and is excellent at pushing the brand out to their network. However, another group of individuals may like the product but don’t share the brand on social media. 

With a community engagement strategy, it’s possible to convert this less engaged group of buyers into brand advocates. Likewise, without continuous engagement, it’s also possible for current brand advocates to slip into the less engaged group.

How can you foster community engagement?

Since community engagement is about building relationships with your group members, the activities you take to accomplish this goal need to serve a purpose. Community members want to feel you care about them and appreciate their support. To achieve your mission of engaging with customers, you’ll want to focus on one of the following areas:

  • – Education
  • – Celebration
  • – Connection
  • – Listening
  • – Sharing

Each area has its own objective, and you’ll need to plan out what activities your organization will deploy to meet those associated goals. For instance, if your company wants to focus on the education component, you might consider holding live FAQ sessions where customers can ask questions about your products or services.

Likewise, if your organization wants to improve the connection element of community engagement, try creating videos that address people’s pain points and how your products can help alleviate their current struggles. 

Here is a list of ideas you can implement to engage your community. 

How to measure community engagement?

Like most things in the digital world, tracking how well your community engagement strategy is doing is essential. As you try out new tactics, you’ll want to see which ones benefit your community and which don’t have much of an impact. 

You’ll get a good idea of community engagement just by monitoring your community. But there are plenty of metrics that provide a more in-depth view.

Consider tracking the number of users, new posts, and repeat visitors to see how people are interacting with your community. See a full list of community metrics here.

For many businesses, their online community is one of the most important elements of their marketing strategy. These dedicated groups are often full of brand advocates and customers who frequently interact with the brand. Engaging with these individuals is crucial if a business is to harness the full benefits of its community. 

If your company is considering a community-led growth strategy or simply wants to interact with your customers, you’ll want to take some time to review your current community engagement strategies. 

Once you’ve got a solid understanding of how your organization currently engages with its community, you can begin the process of crafting a community engagement plan.

Understanding the three elements of community engagement

For organizations looking to improve their community engagement efforts, it’s important to understand the different elements that go into a successful engagement plan. Generally, three areas go into the plan—strategy, technology, and people. 

Let’s look at each element and review its role in helping launch a successful engagement campaign. 

Strategy

Whether your community is new, stagnant, or even growing, having the proper strategy in place is important. Maintaining membership growth and engagement can be challenging without a well-thought-out plan. 

Even if your organization has a current community engagement strategy, it’s a good idea to review it frequently and adjust as more data becomes available. 

When reviewing your strategy, you should consider the following questions:

  • – What motivates potential members to join the community?
  • – Is there a reason current members should keep returning to the community?
  • – How are you empowering your community members and providing them with a voice?
  • – Is the layout of your community user-friendly?
  • – Do members find value in being a part of the community?

Technology

Another critical aspect of a solid community engagement plan is the current technology used to engage with your customers. Often the first place to start when reviewing your technology is the platform you currently use for your community. While some platforms have built-in member features, others make it difficult for organizations to engage with members. 

If your current technology and platform aren’t serving your customers, members, and employees, it might be time to consider switching to a new platform. 

People

Having the perfect technology and strategy will only get your organization so far. You’ll also need to have the right people in place to assist with engagement. Often having a dedicated community manager or a team of community leaders who facilitate conversation and interact with customers will be enough to set your community up for success.