Curious about how to grow an online community? We’ve got some tips for you.
If you’ve ever tried growing an online community then you know it can be a challenge. In fact, you might be reading this article to learn some tips to bring your community to the next level.
If that’s the case, you’re in luck! We’ve thought a lot about how to grow an online community. And we promise the answer is more than just, “Make more content!”.
Ahead, we’ve put together a list of 10 tips for growing an online community—from content and marketing to customer relations. But before we get to the goods, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what we mean when we say online community.
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In this article...
What is an online community?
An online community is a group of people who have come together to explore, overcome, or understand a shared goal, interest, or idea. So the good news that is almost any topic has the potential to be used for growing an online community.
Still, an online community is more than its members. If you’re wondering how to grow your online community, then you should also consider the kind of space you’re building.
Your community space should be a place that excites people and makes them feel valued. The best way to accomplish that is to have a clear understanding of who your members are, what they appreciate in terms of content, and how you can facilitate their interactions with each other.
Now, let’s begin unpacking our tips for how to grow an online community.
10 Tips for growing an online community
1. Know who your people are
Whether you already have an online community or are just getting started, getting to know who your target audience is important.
Online communities that have a specific goal in mind tend to have specific people in mind too. Why? Because when you know who your audience is, you’re more likely to have a better understanding of how to reach new potential members.
Think about it this way. Depending on who we are talking to, most people will change the way they speak in order to best appeal to their audience. When we understand the needs and desires of those we’re trying to connect with, we can better understand what it is they need from us.
Taking the time to understand who your ideal audience is will make marketing your community much easier.
2. Remind your community what they are building
After you’ve gained members in your online community and gotten into a flow, it’s helpful to remind everyone why you’ve come together.
Think of this as your “big purpose,” the glue that holds your community together. For some communities, it will be a common goal that everyone is working to achieve together. For other communities, it will simply be a shared interest that everyone who joins is interested in exploring.
There will be times when the fire in your community dwindles a bit, but that doesn’t mean it’s on its way out. Sometimes, reassuring the group of folks you’ve brought together that what you’re building is worth the ups and downs will be a great motivating factor.
3. Be inspired by your competitors
We bet you’ve heard the saying, “Steal like an artist.” But are you following the advice? First off, we aren’t condoning stealing, but we definitely are suggesting that knowing what your competitors are doing is a great way to get inspired.
You probably have plenty of ideas in the works for how to grow an online community, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing how other creators are doing it. When you do the work of researching your competitors, you’re covering your bases on two fronts. You’ll find out new ways of talking about the same topic and you’ll gain an understanding of the broader landscape of your online community niche.
Being a successful community builder doesn’t mean that you need to constantly reinvent the wheel. The best creators are willing to see what’s out there and incorporate into their own plans what’s been working for other people.
4. Ask your members for honest feedback
If you’re interested in creating a thriving online community, a simple way to make sure yours reaches the next level is to ask your current members what’s working and what isn’t.
Creating a safe space for your members to provide you with open and honest communication is important. When your members feel comfortable telling you what’s on their minds, then they will be much more likely to stick around and stay active.
Asking for feedback doesn’t need to be a grand affair either. A simple way of doing it is creating a Google Survey that you can send out to your members and give them the option to be anonymous.
An even better option, however, is asking for feedback natively within your community. On a Mighty Network, you can create polls and Q&As to get detailed information from your members about what is working quickly and easily.
Other avenues you can explore are posting discussion boards regarding different content you’re developing, or even holding a virtual event to talk about your plans with a live audience.
5. Welcome new members
If you’re figuring out how to grow an online community, it’s important to interrogate how you’re welcoming new members into the fold. For instance, what happens when a new member joins your community? Is there a “welcome” post that gives them the most important details about the community, how to navigate it, and what y’all have been up to?
When you create a Mighty Network you have the opportunity to greatly expand your member’s “welcome” experience. You can add things to a Welcome Section stocked with everything they need to know about your community, and every new member will see it right away.
Another great idea to implement is creating an “Icebreaker Question” for your new members to answer upon entering your community. This is a fun way for members to tell a bit about themselves in a low-stakes setting. Best of all, it’s a native feature available for you to utilize when you build a Mighty Network.
A simple way to welcome new members is to have an “introduce yourself” post in your online community with a few questions for members to answer. This will allow new members to tell the group a little bit about themselves and it will also help them get up to speed on what other people in the community are up to.
6. Be authentic
Do you know what people love? Authenticity. If you’re wondering how to grow an online community, remember why you started in the first place. What was it that attracted you to the idea of community building? Was it from experience having been in a community in the past that brought you joy? Or was it the lack of community that left you wanting one? We’re getting a little personal here, but that’s okay.
When you understand your own reasoning for starting the wonderful community you’re building, you’ll be able to tap into that strength when times get tough. We aren’t saying you should tell your members everything about your life (this isn’t a reality show). But sharing how you’re doing, what you’re thinking about in relation to the community, and especially when things aren’t working out is a great habit to get into. Why? Because honesty and authenticity build trust.
Who wants to be someone they’re not, anyway?
7. Identify your biggest fans and support them
While every member that joins your online community has a shared interest or goal, that doesn’t mean everyone will have the same investment level. You will have some members that go the extra mile with your content. That could mean they will be a hype-person spreading your praises around the web or someone who’d just like more time interacting with you about your content.
Whatever the case may be, figure out who your biggest fans are and support them. This could mean that you invite certain members to be a part of a smaller group within your community. Or, as you continue growing your online community, you could bring your most active members into a more collaborative role, like helping out with moderation. Either way, you’re showing your members that they are seen and heard—and for most people, that’s a major benefit.
8. Experiment with new content
The content you created to launch your online community and gain your initial members was incredibly important to your growth. But rehashing the same kind of content won’t always lead to growing an online community.
However, creating new and diverse types of content in your online community could be the antidote you need to push your brand to the next level.
We aren’t saying that you need to be on the cutting edge of the latest trends to be successful. But we are saying that if you’re someone who uses a lot of video content, maybe try some discussion posts or a poll. Another great option that allows members to interact with you and ask questions is holding an AMA (Ask Me Anything) in your community.
And if you’re feeling like video is your thing and you can’t move away from it, there’s still room to diversify in that space. If you make long videos, try creating a short one. If you usually make informative posts, maybe go for something casual.
When you create different types of content, you’re appealing to different subsections of your community and building new entryways for others to learn about what you’re doing.
There’s a range of possibilities for diversifying your content out there, and best of all, it can be really fun to try new things.
9. Create a unique community culture
Whether you realize it or not, as more members join your community and interact with each other a kind of culture is created.
Since you’re leading the community, it’s important to model the expectations for how members should treat one another. And if you’re wondering how you can do this, consider making a discussion board post with the basic rules and expectations of your community. Once you’re done that, begin practicing what you preach in how you interact with the members of your community.
This is a great practice to have because it makes sure that everyone is on the same page and ultimately will make your community a much safer place. But this is more than just rules and expectations. You can also experiment with different ways of making your community culture feel unique. Maybe there is a catchphrase, slogan, or saying that relates to your group’s big purpose.
We can’t tell you what will make your culture unique, but don’t be afraid to get a little weird and try something out of the box.
10. Spotlight your members
Do you know what will set your community apart from a lot of the competition? Emphasizing the human element of the network you’re building. And who is the human element? Your members, of course!
So many creators get caught up in ideas of how to grow an online community that they forget who actually makes that community work: people. A great way to build deeper connections with and between your members to spotlight their successes, questions, ideas, and suggestions.
This could be in the form of a shout out in your next video, it could be in a discussion board post, a personal email or message, or something else.
Highlighting your members’ accomplishments is a form of giving back to your community, while also inviting interaction. One of the best parts of being in a community is knowing that people are invested in your success. Encouraging members to tell the world about the great things they’ve achieved is always a great thing to do.
At the end of the day, communities are made up of people banding together around a common goal. When you forefront the importance of building a network where members can form real connections with one another, your community is bound to grow.
If you build a Mighty Network you will gain access to the tools you need to make your online community more than just a place to market your content. In addition to industry leading community-building tools, you also can offer paid memberships, and design online courses. You also get a powerful website builder that gives you the tools you need to deliver your awesome content.
On top of that, with a Mighty Network, you’ll be able to offer all of these pieces together under your own brand, instantly available on web, iOS, and Android. Don’t underestimate the power of your members being able to access your brand wherever they are.
Sounds pretty great right? All that’s left to do is to get started.
Ready to start building your community?