User engagement tends to be one of the top KPIs organisations focus on to measure the success of their community. However, as Feverbee points out in their excellent explanation of the community lifecycle, it takes a while before users start engaging and actively contributing to your community. So in this blogpost I’d like to give you some pointers on how you can boost engagement for your online community.
First things first
It’s important to accept that in the first stages of community building, your members won’t be as active as you’d like them to be. Getting likes rather than comments is fine in the early stages. While the above chart states less than 50% of your members will be active, a more common theory is that for every user that is active you have 99 users that are lurking but not responding. Consider targeting for read-time and link clicks instead, just know you’re slowly working towards more in depth forms of engagement from your community. We will tell you more about realistic goal and KPI setting in a future article.
Plan your content
Second, make sure that if you come up with a post schedule (you can use a content calendar for this), this way you are regularly sharing content with your community. Planning ahead and posting something new a few times a week gives users something to actually respond to! It will also help them understand when to come to the community for new content. You can post more or less frequently depending on the size of your community and how long your content remains active.
Now, make sure the content you do share gets the results you’re looking for. Whether you are sharing links to blogposts on external platforms or posting full articles on your community, these steps should help you get a reaction from your community.
- Start and/ or end with a question
Most people will end with a question, but if you start with a good question you can already get user’s gears turning to consider how they might respond from the get-go.
- Ask open ended questions
Make sure this is an open question, this means people can’t just answer with a simple yes or no, but have to give a more in depth answer. So don’t ask “Do you think the government should do X or Y?” but ask “The government is considering options X and Y, we think both need work. What adjustments would you like to see to X and Y to get the best result for all stakeholders?”
- Be controversial
This is a thin line to walk, but blanket statements that everyone agrees with won’t garner a response as much as more controversial statements. To avoid offending your members be sure to distance yourself from the statement, for example “It may be controversial but a lot of people really believe A, what do you think?”
- Mix it up
Be sure to create a diverse mix of content types, from links to external articles, to visuals with a short statement, blogposts on your own website and full articles posted within the community itself. This keeps the community looking fresh and gives you ample room to test what types of content work best for you
Open Social allows for you to mention people with an @ and their username in the comments, this will give them a notification. If you know there are people within your community with interesting views or advanced knowledge of the topic at hand be sure to tag them and ask them a question to get the conversation going. This will also show your community members you really know them and appreciate their knowledge and ideas and help you build relationships
Be sure to show your appreciation for anyone engaging in your content, whether this is with a like or a mention, if people comment let them know you saw it and appreciate their insights. If you don’t have anything to add to their comment or post you can simply like it, when you do comment be sure to give involved feedback, so don’t say “Great insight, thanks!” but say “Wow, I never thought of it that way. Do you think X, Y and Z will improve if we start approaching it this way?” for example.
- Use analytics
At least once a month, review both your own content and user generated content on your platform to see which content performed best for your engagement KPIs. A monthly review of the performance of all content will give you an idea of which content performs the way you need it to, so you can create more content that your community likes and boost your engagement. If there is stand out content from a specific user you can approach them to see if they’d like to create content with you for the community on a more regular basis
In the early stages of your community things may be a little quiet, which means some of your users may not be checking the activity on a regular basis. An easy way to ensure people engage in any discussions on your platform is to send a (bi)weekly email with short summaries of open topics and what the response has been so far. This way you can lure your user’s back into the community to give their input.
Did we miss any tips and tricks? How do you boost engagement for your community? We’d love to read your insights in the comments.