We’re always looking for ways to help our customers successfully implement and maintain their communities. After all, the implementation plan and structure behind your community is just as important as the technology itself. We recently came across a great resource from Facebook, Tips for Group Admins, that provides advice on how to manage a Facebook group. We found that there were many similarities in the strategies for maintaining a Facebook group and a social knowledge network like Bloomfire. Here are some tips that are applicable to any kind of online community manager:
1. They tell members why they created the community or group.
Before a community manager sends potential members an invitation, they should make the time to create a compelling email explaining the benefits of joining. It’s important that members understand the purpose and how they can use the community as a resource in advance. In Bloomfire, this content can also be added to the promo bar to highlight its importance.
2. They give examples of things to post.
No one wants to join a community that doesn’t already have compelling content. Pre-seed your community with sample contributions that give your members an idea of the kind of content that should be shared, how tags and categories should be utilized, and how to best organize content.
3. They welcome new members.
It’s important to let new members know that their contributions and knowledge are appreciated. Welcome them by virtually tapping them on the shoulder with an @mention. Sharing fun facts about new users is a great way to engage them quickly and create a fun environment. SpareFoot welcomes new employees to their customer support community by creating an infographic about them.
4. They let members know they can invite others.
Make sure all members understand that they can invite and add members if that’s your goal. Add steps to invite new members to the home page of the community and consider setting up contests to reward those who get the most new members to join.
5. They give the community time to get going.
Communities aren’t formed overnight. With a little patience and a lot of care and feeding, your community will flourish. Our customers have found that seeding communities with HR documents, FAQs, company forms and resources, and calendars is helpful in spurring engagement. Anything that all employees will find useful and must access often should live in your community (and to be most effective – nowhere else!). Encourage new members to contribute relevant content that they think others will find useful such as questions they are asked frequently, documents they forward often, or projects they’ve completed.
6. They comment on posts by members.
Commenting is a great way to collaborate on projects and acknowledge shared member knowledge. If your community platform allows, it’s great to tap others on the shoulder with an @mention when appropriate. Everyone loves to see their contributions getting love – whether it be by likes, views, or comments, so make a concerted effort to give that positive reinforcement freely.
7. They look for interesting things to post.
It’s important to keep community content engaging. Community managers should share industry news and trends, competitor information, employee self-improvement learning, local events and news, and company-wide announcements to keep content fresh and interesting. If the content is relevant, helpful, and interesting, the long-term engagement of your members will improve.
8. They ask questions.
Communities with Q&A built in is great, because it allows you to ask and answer common questions just once. After posting the answer to a question in the community, users should send links to the answer to those who ask questions in the future over email or other communication methods to reinforce that the community is the place to go to get answers. Community managers can also create “purposeful” Q&A contributions that answer frequently asked questions as a resource for new employees and users.
9. They mention members in posts.
Bloomfire allows all users to alert other community members to a contribution by @mentioning them in a comment. It’s also a great way to give credit to someone for their work in a public forum. Members can also share a contribution with multiple members using the share link at the top of the contribution.
10. They check in daily.
Make sure to answer any questions you can, direct people to experts, comment and high five new contributions to positively reinforce those who are engaging with the community. Look at the analytics to see what content is the most popular, who is participating and who isn’t, and think about what adjustments you might make to keep members coming back.
An online community requires planning, consistency, and care in order to be of full value. The members will ultimately determine the strength and effectiveness of the resource by choosing whether to participate. Community managers play an important role in creating an environment that fosters user engagement by making the community a fun and essential tool. We hope these tips help you develop a community with long lasting value.