The development of an online community can seem to move slowly in the beginning, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This pace is comfortable and allows you time to get to know the community members, understand their interests and responsiveness, and acquire the skills you need to create posts. But after a while, it’s time to start reaching out to a wider audience.
Your first step should be to set a quantifiable goal in order to be able to measure your growth later on. Consider taking note of the following:
Assess your current numbers, and set a goal for a reasonable increase. For example, a community has forty-five members and only ten of them like the posts written. A solid goal is to find thirty new members and receive twenty more likes on each post.
In order to reach these goals, you have to work for them, which leads to the second step: create valuable content. We are all limited to twenty-four hours a day and that should not be wasted. Making a lackluster post and then adding “Please like and comment!” at the end of it will fail to encourage conversation, and may drive people away.
Instead, write posts that they will genuinely want to like and comment on of their own volition. Something that makes them laugh, makes them think, inspires them, or contains clearly worded and useful information. For example, if you run a charity, your post could be a picture of volunteers at an event you held and a story of how the day went, or how their work was impactful.
If you are unsure of the kind of posts you should share, brainstorm with other people on your team, or even ask the community in a poll. This display of deference shows that you really want to meet the desires of the community. Ultimately, respect your community members’ time. They may end up helping you back by sharing your posts with their friends and getting new people to join.
Step three is to make new members feel welcome. Interacting with strangers online does not come easily, so help newcomers feel comfortable participating in discussions and contributing to the community. Creating an FAQ sheet which answers questions about the goals of the organization running the group and the rules of the group will do the trick. The document or post should be easily accessible to users who are unfamiliar with the platform, such as BizLigo, or could be emailed to them upon joining the group.
Another option is to have a community leader contact them directly. Receiving a direct message from a moderator or community leader can help people feel confident interacting. It’s a more personal touch that shows members how much you value their presence, but may be difficult to implement depending on how much available time you have and how many new members are arriving.
Whichever method you choose, make it as personal as your means allow. Your community will grow stronger with a greater number of new members who smoothly incorporate and get involved.
The fourth step, which is to keep longtime members engaged, should be carried out simultaneously. If you shift too much attention to growth and start to neglect the people you already have, you will move backwards. If the posts you make begin to feel formulaic and unexciting, people will lose interest. A novel way to retain attention is to invite a prominent community member to write a post. Doing so will serve many purposes. The post will be different from those in the past, have a strong personal voice, and make the community member who wrote it feel valued and respected.
An event page could post a person’s story of a good memory made at a past event. In a business’s community, the post could be a review of their favorite product or a positive customer service story. Writing this kind of post opens the door for other members to comment and share their own experiences, as well as promotes your event or product.
The final step comes after you reach the milestone you set in step one. Celebrate! Your community is stronger and more successful than ever. The important thing to do here is to include the people of your community in the celebration. Reflecting on the growth of the community together will make it an achievement for everyone. Acknowledge that your growth would not have been possible without all of them, and tell them how thankful you are. Use this moment of success to further strengthen the bond in the community and uplift the members. Each person will feel more connected to the group, and score the group’s achievement as one of their own.
Everything you need to know is in your possession. Go set the first goal today, and before long there will be a steady increase in interaction in your group. You have a sprawling and strong online community to look forward to!
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