5 Steps to Creating an Engaging Online Space
You’ve built your online community. You’ve set it up beautifully, you’re proud of the content you’ve created — you’ve worked so hard. That’s it, right? Now you can sit back and watch your community grow on its own?
When it comes to community management, you need to consistently water, feed, trim and care for your online users in order to see real, substantial growth. Although there are endless ways to engage your followers or increase following through engagement, these 5 key terms highlight the most important things to keep in mind when you’re managing your online community.
If it’s not crystal clear what kind of product or services you’re selling, you can say goodbye to an influx of followers eager to engage. It shouldn’t come as a shock that a customer with a true understanding of how your services work is more likely to follow, share and promote what you do. You can “inform” your community by using explanatory video marketing, writing informative blogs, sharing before and after content to increase your credibility, and making sure any traffic you receive instantly knows what you’re offering.
For digital marketers, the greatest thing about the internet is the share button. You are technically always “recruiting” followers to assist you in your marketing and promotion efforts by suggesting they repost, retweet, tag or share your content. Consumers want authenticity, and seeing your services shared and validated by someone they trust is vital to your platform’s growth (and sales!). You can “recruit” by making your content worth sharing. Try posting a variety of interesting and original material, sharing news stories related to your industry, using CTA (call to action) wording, and doing a merchandise or service giveaway.
Possibly the most important of the five, “connecting” with your audience is a game-changer. In order to connect with someone in any circumstance, you have to be relatable. Being relatable as an online presence calls for openness and transparency. Most importantly, this means responding to every comment or question in a timely manner. Relatability is also achievable through live stream videos, employee interviews and bios, creative behind-the-scenes content, videos or photos offering a glimpse into company culture — the list could go on and on. Allowing your community to view your company as more than just a name is the most important part of creating an engaging online space.
“Asking” a question begs for an answer or a response…that’s engagement. You can never ask too many questions on any social platform. Whether you are asking users for feedback, questions, opinions, or simply if they’d like to know more about your services, you are making your company seem interested and available. Even if you’re simply sharing a news story, add a question onto your caption: What do you think about this? Include polls in your shared content. This is a great way to increase user engagement and learn more about your community at the same time.
After informing, recruiting, connecting and asking, don’t forget to listen. Take criticism, suggestions or complaints from your community seriously and be sure to thank those who praise your services. Listening to your users is how you learn what they want to see more of, less of, how you’re doing well and how you can do better. Your online users can help your brand and your staff in so many ways; if you’re not listening you can’t reap the benefits of an online community and your community’s engagement.
-Written by Lily Tillman