The challenge of creating and managing an online community lies in providing enough value to make your members want to stay and contribute over the long term.
If you provide too little interaction with others, your community members will likely leave.
This is why you need to design your plan thoughtfully and incorporate various community engagement ideas to make your community strong and lasting.
In this article, we’ll share with you 15 proven community engagement strategies and offer concrete examples to show how other communities use them.
When we’re finished, you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned and put it into practice.
Are you ready? Let’s go.
- 1. Lay Out Clear Community Guidelines
- 2. Give Your New Members a Warm Welcome
- 3. Encourage Members to Complete Their Profile
- 4. Launch a Mobile App
- 5. Respond to Every Post Quickly
- 6. Create Private Groups Inside Your Community
- 7. Test Out Different Content Types
- 8. Create an Engagement Calendar
- 9. Offer Free (And Paid) Educational Resources
- 10. Host a Monthly AMA Session
- 11. Plan Regular Live Events
- 12. Run a Contest Inside Your Community
- 13. Recognize and Reward Active Members
- 14. Introduce a Points-Based Gamification System
- 15. Ask For Feedback From the Community
Why Is Community Engagement Important?
Your members will only stay if they find true value in the connections and resources offered within your entire community.
When surveyed, 24% of professionals cited a lack of engagement as a reason why their online community was unsuccessful.
This is the main reason why you must take community engagement seriously and make it your top priority.
Additionally, the members who aren’t invested in the community won’t be loyal to your brand.
Obviously, this will make it much more difficult to build a loyal group of ambassadors who’ll promote your community, digital products, and expertise to others.
By establishing and using the best community engagement strategies, you’ll create real value and connections for your members.
We’ve identified some essential strategies. Let’s explore them in detail.
1. Lay Out Clear Community Guidelines
You should clearly understand how you’ll want your community members to act in your group.
By establishing and maintaining guidelines, you’ll create a code of conduct and a shared set of expectations that your members will follow.
These guidelines might include moderation policies to ensure that the shared content and the interactions that occur in the community remain on topic and aren’t hateful or offensive.
Collectively created community guidelines and easy-to-understand policies help to create a safe environment for all your users.
Thinkific created a Facebook Group for online course creators called Thinkific Studio. You can see that their community guidelines consist of four simple principles that shape how the community will be managed.
2. Give Your New Members a Warm Welcome
Your new community members have taken the brave step to join your community.
To keep them, you’ll need to make a good first impression.
- You can send them a short welcome message via email or an app. Be sure to personalize it so they’ll feel extra special.
- Having new members introduce themselves to the broader community is also helpful. Many members join to make new connections, so support them in getting started and let the enthusiasm of other members validate why they joined in the first place.
- You may also want to send a weekly welcome post as a community owner. This can be a list of all the newcomers, the goals for the week ahead, and positive announcements and little victories that other members have shared.
- You could also create a welcome checklist. Entering a new community can be a little strange at first, so give your new members some specific tasks that they can complete to feel like they’re part of something special.
One of our favorite examples comes from SEO Surfers, a group by the SaaS company Surfer. Their team creates a weekly welcome post, mentioning all the new members by name and sharing some useful resources with them.
It’s messages like these that form a positive first impression and make new users excited to participate.
3. Encourage Members to Complete Their Profile
Have you ever been on a large Zoom call where no one had their camera turned on? Now, imagine a community full of anonymous users where no one shares anything about themselves.
Your community should be a place where people with similar interests come together to discuss ideas and make new connections.
For this reason, you should encourage every member to complete their profile (with a photo!), list their interests and goals, and explain why they joined.
A complete profile is also great for helping people connect with others who have similar interests. Your ability to facilitate organic connections in your own community is a very effective community engagement strategy.
By encouraging users to share their interests, you’ll be able to send them personalized recommendations about new subgroups, relevant topics, and events that may be coming up.
4. Launch a Mobile App
For your community to be successful, it must be sticky. To do this, you’ll need many touchpoints, so your members can access it from anywhere.
This way, you’ll also be able to send push notifications that’ll create more visibility for your community, helping bring people back to your platform and increase community engagement.
Numerous community software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms will help you incorporate your community into an easily accessible mobile app. If you want to know more, read our guide on how to create a community app.
An example of a community that uses apps is Kwik Brain Universe.
The community is built on the Mighty Networks platform, and you can access it through the web app and the branded mobile apps.
5. Respond to Every Post Quickly
As a community manager, you must be as responsive as possible to your members.
You should expect and encourage your community to have lots of questions. If this happens, it’s a good sign and it means that they’re engaged.
While you can rely on other community members to help answer questions and provide feedback, there’s no substitute for you. You’re the expert.
Your presence may be a large part of why they joined, so you should be visible and respond to any questions within 24 hours.
Make sure that every question gets answered promptly. Being responsive is a simple yet often overlooked community engagement best practice.
If you’re having trouble keeping up with the volume of questions and member activity, this is a good sign, but don’t let it overwhelm you. It could simply mean that you need a little extra help.
At this point, you may want to consider hiring a virtual assistant if your community gets lots of posts. They can help moderate the discussions and answer your members’ questions quickly when you’re not available.
6. Create Private Groups Inside Your Community
Smaller groups tend to create more personal connections, and you should strive to make this a priority as long as it remains manageable.
It’s common to have a sizable general community and smaller private groups inside a single community. A micro-community, for example, is a smaller group that’s built around increased engagement.
You can create these focused groups to ensure that members have a more meaningful experience, and they can join different groups based on their interests.
How will you know when it’s time to include private groups in your community?
As you grow your online community, you’ll want to pay attention to the conversations that your members are having with each other. Alternatively, you can also solicit feedback to ensure that you’re meeting your members’ needs.
If you see that your members are leaving the community, they may not be making the connections they had hoped for.
A good example of a community that uses groups to serve members in a more personalized way is Productive Environment Network. It has several sub-communities inside the main network, and you need to request to join.
7. Test Out Different Content Types
No one wants to eat the same meal every day, and the same rule applies to the content your community consumes.
You should always test out different content types to keep your community interesting. This experiment could mean communicating in several ways with your members.
Some content types you can experiment with include:
- Short videos
- Blog posts
- Group chats
Giving your members something to engage with can also be helpful. For instance, a daily question or poll to elicit participation can help fuel deeper conversations.
Poll questions like the one below can be very simple and are designed to elicit a quick response. Plus, they often lead to interesting comments and allow you to help come up with content ideas.
We also recommend using data to measure and identify popular topics. If collecting this type of data seems scary, keep it simple.
You can track page views, likes, responses, or keywords. Be consistent in your data collection to garner valuable insights over time.
8. Create an Engagement Calendar
Your community needs constant attention and planning for it to succeed over the long term.
As the community manager, you’ll need to do some behind-the-scenes work so you have a supply of steady content and events that you can use to connect with your members in a coordinated way.
The best way to organize your content, events, and activities is through the use of an engagement calendar.
Your calendar may consist of recurring topics (e.g., Friday live chats) that create a structure for the community. They’re often timely, relevant, and matter to all of your users.
Even smaller events, such as conversation starters, can be helpful.
Conversation starters work well as icebreaker activities because they help build engagement. Everyone has a voice, but they may be unsure of how to participate. Get the ball rolling with a simple question that gets people involved and willing to share.
You should map out events for your community to kindle new levels of enthusiasm. Planning events is vital for fostering connection and getting your members excited.
9. Offer Free (And Paid) Educational Resources
While your community may be primarily focused on building relationships, there’s also a ton of value in offering free and paid learning resources.
Some of your newest members may be coming for you and the content you’ve created. To get them through the door, you might need to entice them with a free course, workbook, or checklist that they can use right away.
Access to this kind of content can be an easy and quick win. Plus, it could be the reason that your members decide to stay.
Mighty Community, a public group for Mighty Networks creators, has tons of educational resources. Here, you’ll also find a free resources hub for learning community design in addition to premium courses.
Moreover, you can also offer paid learning opportunities for new members who want a more personalized experience.
10. Host a Monthly AMA Session
When running a community, it’s essential to be visible and invite community members to access your knowledge or that of a special guest or expert.
Ask me anything (AMA) sessions are among the best community engagement tools. They’re simple to set up while possessing a high return on investment. For instance, you could conduct them live through Zoom or group chats and repeat them monthly.
Your members can use them to ask any questions they may have and get to know you better.
The Love Club is a public community created by Love Wellness, a personal care brand that focuses on women’s health. They regularly host AMA sessions in their community and answer their members’ questions.
11. Plan Regular Live Events
Live events create excitement, and that’s why you should plan numerous opportunities to schedule live coaching calls, webinars, and guest interviews for your community.
Recurring topics and a library of learning resources are vital, but real-time events can build momentum, add variety to your community calendar, and convey a sense of exclusivity.
Girls in Marketing, an online membership and learning community for women marketers in the U.K., hosts in real life (IRL) events as part of their online community.
In addition to in-person events, the community also holds virtual group chats and webinars to better serve its global membership.
12. Run a Contest Inside Your Community
Competitions, contests, and challenges are a fun online community engagement strategy because they get everyone to rally around an activity, pushing them to get involved.
You could have your members upload photos or videos when they feel like sharing or when they learn something new. Plus, challenges can help people start off at zero and finish a task in a short amount of time.
Contests also can be an excellent recruitment and referral tool. The excitement of your existing members can often carry over to people outside of your community, compelling them to join.
Niche Pursuits is an SEO Facebook Group run by Spencer Haws. From time to time, he runs contests in his group to encourage members to engage with his posts and follow him on other social media platforms.
13. Recognize and Reward Active Members
Recognition is a powerful motivator. We live in a world where people desire credentials, and your community can become a reflection of those values.
You can acknowledge your top contributors on a weekly basis or even as “members of the month.” Nurture them; these people add a lot of value to your community.
For example, Podia runs a community for its paid creator customers, and each week they send out a weekly recap to their community members.
You can see how they acknowledge creator participation through their weekly Podia Creator Community awards.
You may even want to assign your top members essential roles as admins or moderators and give them greater levels of responsibility.
Over time, these members will become your greatest advocates.
14. Introduce a Points-Based Gamification System
Gamification is a good community engagement strategy that introduces game-like elements and activities into your community.
The fundamental principle behind this approach is that learners will often forget that they’re learning when everything feels like a game.
You can incorporate gamification elements through leaderboards, activity points, personalization, and rewards.
Lets Upgrade uses gamification such as badges and virtual coins or points in their community network as a way to incentivize their members to answer questions and participate.
Focusing on competition and having fun will give your members a powerful reason to contribute and stick around.
15. Ask For Feedback From the Community
Finally, your community does not exist in a vacuum, and you should strive to engage your members in every way possible—which includes asking for their feedback regularly.
Their opinions and insights can make your community stronger, and in turn, they’ll feel like they have a real stake in the future of what you’re building.
You can solicit feedback in many ways, including simple surveys, small focus groups, and polls.
If you notice a high attrition rate in your community, ask your users why they’re leaving. You may not like the answer, but it’s likely something you need to hear.
Throughout this article, we’ve covered numerous community engagement ideas and strategies that you can use.
We recommend adopting a few of them at a time and finding ways to measure their effectiveness rather than trying them all at once.
As your community develops, be sure to always focus on creating meaningful opportunities for your members to interact, connect, and learn from each other.
By focusing on those fundamental principles, your community will continue to thrive.
What’s your favorite community engagement strategy? How do you measure its effectiveness? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!