If you've ever run a community, whether online or in real life, you've learned something. Getting people to show up in a community is great. But getting them engaged and excited to be there is even better.
And sometimes that can be a challenge. It's not always easy to get people to jump in and get engaged. Some people are willing to lurk on the sidelines for a long time. And if you can't get people engaged, there’s a fear that they might drop out of the community altogether.
Okay, enough for the scary stuff. The good news is, it doesn't have to be really hard to get people engaged in a community.
In fact, with the right tools and strategies, you can get member engagement rolling this week.
And you know what's the coolest part? Engagement can work like a snowball. The more members get engaged, the more of those engaged members help others get engaged. This means that your efforts to get your members involved will have long-term, lasting effects that you can't even imagine.
So if you're ready to get started, these will help. Here are 10 community engagement strategies you can steal this week!
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In this article...
1. Customize the new member experience
Okay, let's talk about the most important point in a community member’s journey: their first few minutes, hours, and days in a community.
This is the scary point for your new member. It's like being the new kid at school. It seems that everyone else knows each other and knows what's going on, and it can be intimidating to jump in.
So you need – drum roll please – an amazing new member experience. You want to make sure that every single person who comes into your community knows how and where to get started. You want to invite them into discussions, make them feel welcome, show them where things are and what's possible, and let them know that you are there to help.
In an online community, this can be achieved through building a great digital new member experience.
For example, within a Mighty Network, we created a new member checklist that you can customize and make your own. Every new member sees this, and it walks them through prompts like setting up their member profile, saying hello in the community, asking their first question, or RSVPing to their first live event.
How exactly you create it is up to you. But what's guaranteed is that an awesome new member experience won't leave people hanging. They'll jump in and start taking part.
*We have a free training on building a magical new member experience in our Mighty Community! *
2. Go live… a lot!
We love live streaming. Whether it's a planned event or an unexpected surprise, live streaming adds the element of the real to your virtual community.
Live streaming might come with the occasional "um", but don't get hung up on that. With all the perfectly scripted social media out there, a little bit of humanity is welcome.
So if you want to boost member engagement, try going live regularly. You can talk about what you're learning, interview a community member or an outside guest, or hold a question and answer time or an AMA.
And, before you ask, yes those butterflies you get before live streaming are totally normal. It can be a bit scary to live stream if you've never done it before. But trust us, if you rip off the Band-Aid you'll love what happens next. Increased engagement.
And by the way, your presentation skills will get better in time. And those butterflies will go away. Just give it a try!
3. Email updates
Okay, so as you think about your community engagement strategy, think about the role that email can play.
One of the great things about an awesome community platform, especially one that comes with a beautiful, built-in app, is that your members don't need to be emailed about everything. They should be getting notifications with their community platform (and a good platform should give them options to customize these).
This gives you the option to be really strategic about how you use email. You don't need to be emailing your members every single day. But you can email updates, or let people know about events. If people have been away from the platform for a while, it can be a good strategy to bring them back.
And when life gets busy, which it does, a weekly roundup of what's happened in your community can help people stay connected and prepare them to jump back in.
4. Incorporate play
Communities should be fun. Sometimes, we have a tendency to get too serious, especially if people are paying for community membership. You might be feeling the pressure to try to deliver a really serious experience that feels… "professional."
There's a time and a place for that. And we’re not saying that you shouldn’t be professional.
But being “professional” doesn’t necessarily mean being serious all the time. A great community should also come with some fun built-in. If you can get your members laughing together, connecting over the vulnerability of being silly and playful, you will be building some awesome member experiences.
Try incorporating some fun things. A virtual game show. Karaoke. Things that break your community out of the serious and build engagement with fun. If you are looking for some fun virtual event ideas, we have a full list here.
5. Know your Ideal Member and Big Purpose
There's something that we recommend doing at the planning stage of your community, during Community Design™. But even if you skipped it at the planning stage, it's not too late to do these exercises now.
Every community needs two things. First of all, it needs an Ideal Member. You need to know exactly who your community is for. Be as specific as possible about these members; know what they're like, their hopes and their dreams, and what they care about.
If you can create a specific Ideal Member, it will help your community engagement. Because instead of throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, you can just focus on helping your
Ideal Member solve the problem that they have. It's a recipe for members that show up and get involved.
The second part of this is creating what we call a Big Purpose. Your Big Purpose outlines who your community is for, and what you will help them do. It looks like this.
By the way, we have totally free training on finding both your Ideal Members and your Big Purpose in our mighty community.
6. Moderate that thing
Having great community engagement isn't just about what's in your community. A big part of it is that there are some things your community shouldn’t have.
And that's where a solid community moderation strategy comes in.
Your members should feel safe in your community. They should know that they won't be bullied or victimized. They should trust that they won't see posts that are racist, sexist, homophobic, or some other form of discrimination.
So if you want to create a community where people feel safe, you need to build a good moderation strategy. Let your members know what the expectations are, and refer back to them regularly. Don't be afraid to use the moderation tools on your community platform to flag or block offensive content. And think about choosing some of your most engaged, loyal members to help you out with the task of moderation.
Moderation isn't something that is super exciting at the outset. Nobody gets their thrills from sitting down and writing out rules.
But trust us, the psychological safety of your community members is worth it. And when people feel safe, they are way more likely to engage.
7. Build rituals
Imagine you could go back in time to those human communities that existed thousands of years ago. When our ancestors sat around campfires. What was it that made those communities stick together?
A big part of community bonding was the power of rituals. Rituals were used to mark belonging in the community. They were used for major life transformations, like the rites of passage between being a child and being an adult. Or, they were used to mark the passage of time, the weeks, months, and years.
Your community can benefit from the power of rituals too. As you go through the life of your community, pay attention to moments that deserve to be ritualized. Maybe it's something you tried once for new members that you want to keep doing for everyone - like the new member experience we talked about above. Maybe once a year you have a certain type of community event, something everyone looks forward to. Maybe it’s just the monthly community happy hour.
By creating these moments in time, naming them, and making them special, you are creating rituals. And that's just something humans have always done, making rituals a powerful community engagement tool.
8. Ask questions
When we've studied communities, there's one thing again and again that creates engagement. It's not a secret.
The thing is…questions!
Questions draw members in. Questions ask something of them. Questions get them to pull on their own experience and knowledge, something we all get excited about doing. In short, questions might be the ultimate secret to member engagement.
In fact, we care about questions so much that a while back we created this awesome guide for 1,000 discussion questions you can use to get your community talking. Download it for free here.
9. Go on quests
There's something else we've built into mighty networks that we are really excited about. Quests. Just like the knights of old, quests take your community on a challenge together. And we have a full and free training on creating quests in our Mighty Community too!
Here's another tip to get at the magic of community engagement. Are you ready?
As community managers, it can be tempting to control everything. To scrub everything. To make everything look perfect. But ask anybody who's spent any time in a community and they'll tell you that the most powerful moments are often the ones nobody expects. The unscripted ones.
It might be the live stream where the guest can't come on and the resulting discussion ends up being more powerful than that session would have been. It might be the moment where a community member breaks down in tears as you watch the others jump in to support and encourage them.
Obviously, there's no way to plan for unscripted moments. That would defeat the purpose.
But do create space and time to be together in ways that aren't perfectly scripted, and be prepared to watch the magic happen.
11. Empower your best people
Community, as the word suggests, shouldn't be done alone. And leadership of a community doesn't have to be done alone either.
One of the secrets to amazing community engagement is to bring people in and not try to be a one-person show. It might mean formally hiring a community manager. But often it just means empowering the members who are there.
You can do this with things like an Ambassador Program, that rewards your members for inviting new members. Or, you might promote your best members to co-Hosts or moderators. These can be paid or unpaid positions, and you might be surprised to find that some people who are invested in your community love the opportunity to take on a leadership role and go deeper.
Ready to start?
We hope these tips have you excited about adding new life to your community. Remember, having thousands of members doesn't do much good if they aren't engaged. Using these tips will help you bring your members in and keep them there. As we’ve found time and time again, people may join the communities for the benefits or the courses, but people stay in communities long-term because of the relationships they build there.
If you are looking for an awesome platform to build your community on, come try Mighty Networks! It's an all-in-one cultural software platform that brings together content, community, courses, and commerce! And with customizable spaces that can hold forums, messaging, live streaming, courses, integrated events, and more, it's a powerful tool for community engagement. You can charge in 135 different currencies or even token-gating, and you can bundle any and all of these. And it comes with an awesome app that your members will love.
But don't take our word for it, you can try it totally free for 14 days!