There’s a difference between an audience and a community. An audience sits, usually quietly, and listens. The communication is usually one-way and they passively receive the information you give to them. If they like what they hear, they’ll come back and listen some more.
A community is a living breathing experience. They talk back. They engage. They interact. They participate.
Here are 3 ways to create an engaging community.
It’s no coincidence that Community starts with the same letters that form the word Communication – so if you have any hope of building a community (digital or otherwise) that interacts with you, you need to make it easy for them to do that.
In a brilliant survey conducted by Braze and Forrester, it was discovered that as much as 60% of all of our brand experiences happen because of human-like connections. Note that I use human-like. Yes, a lot of it happens through automation – but there is an engagement, an immediate response that helps your user or member or customer get to where they need to be. It also really depends on HOW you communicate too. Remember that how you communicate on each channel will be different. The way you communicate on Facebook will evoke a difference response if you tried the same method on Twitter. It will fall flat. So, please, when it comes to your social media activity, think about who you are talking to on each respective platform, and adjust your communication style to suit it.
Sometimes it is entirely necessary to narrow your focus. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to want your post to go viral, but at the initial stages, when you are trying to build the critical mass of members in your community, you need to narrow the scope of your marketing to include only people who are more likely to adopt your product. And of course, identifying these people will probably involve a lot of research and hard work – including coming up with what we call Personas (examples of the typical person you are trying to attract), or look at the Personas of who your competitors may be targeting etc. That’s why, popping a tweet into the ocean and hoping that someone, somewhere takes a bite, is not, as my dad used to say, impossible, but it’s HIGHLY unlikely.
You will find that you will get a much higher conversion from people who are already interested in your product, and what you have to offer.
Remember that it’s important for a community to know what their purpose is. For that, you, as the host of the community, needs to ensure that you have set the tone of your group. You may choose to create a set of rules or guidelines, or add a really clear description of what you’re trying to achieve. I manage a number of digital communities – many of which have entirely different sets of rules and intentions – and yet each one a living space where members who share a common goal, share their experiences and interact with one another. In fact, I don’t really need to do a lot other than moderate and check that members are acting respectfully towards each other. That’s when you know that your community is alive.
Sometimes you may need to dip in and inspire conversation with new thoughts, ideas, questions, polls etc and sometimes you may need to quieten some members down to allow others a chance to speak – but that all happens as your community grows organically, and you start to get to know your members.
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