Great communities don't happen by chance or overnight. They result from a great community manager, armed with a well-thought-out community management strategy.
The right community management strategy keeps members engaged, drives value, and encourages members to become ambassadors for your community's growth.
And as your community grows, so should your strategy.
As a community manager, you need to constantly experiment with your strategy—testing, learning, and adapting based on results.
With this in mind, here are a few ideas to inspire you when either creating or re-evaluating your community management strategy.
Carefully Consider (and Regularly Re-evaluate) the Structure of Your Community
Keep your members constantly in mind for every structural decision you make.
The structure and design of your community influence if and how members engage.
You need to ensure that there is the necessary level of interest for each feature you choose and each sub-group you develop. To do this, you need to know why your members joined the community and what they expect from you. Persona mapping will help you better understand your community members and can help optimize engagement.
Personas are fictitious users that represent the needs of larger groups of users in terms of goals and behavior. Personas can be created through research, surveys, and interviews on both existing customers and prospects. For each persona, detail information on demographics, goals, challenges, communication preferences, and how your community helps for each persona.
Start your community with as few features and groups as possible—in other words, only the most relevant ones! Add more features and sub-groups as engagement builds. Inform your community of upcoming features to create hype and apprehension before their launch!
Conduct pilot tests for new features with specific segments or clusters of the community. Pilot tests give you an idea of how the feature would be adopted in your wider community. They also offer an opportunity to spot any challenges and fine-tune the feature and its rollout!
"Global admins should help keep group admins engaged. They can do this through one-to-one or group meetings.
Create a rating system for group admins to identify active group admins, moderate group admins, or less active group admins. With this knowledge, you can better assist admins that need to pay more attention to their group!
Carmel Lynn, Customer Success Manager at Hivebrite
And remember, members' needs and interests can evolve. Review features that you have activated every six to twelve months to identify if they still add value or if members want something else.
"In addition to your community's structure, carefully consider the structure of the internal team behind the community. Between creating content and moderating your platform, managing a community takes time! Make sure you allocate your resources accordingly.
Make sure everyone in the team knows who is responsible for what. Create resources and document training and best practices to help team members excel in their roles.”
Xavier de la Lande, Customer Success Manager, Hivebrite
Remember Consistency is Key for Content
Content is critical for a vibrant community. You want your members to comment on your content, share it, engage in discussions around it, and keep coming back to the community for it!
Of course, your content must be top-notch and resonate with your members. And it's equally critical that your content reflects your community's values.
However, content cadence is often overlooked.
Consistency is critical for successful content. If you stick to consistent dates and times to publish content, your members will know when to expect new content and it will be easier for them to get into the habit of tuning it! Plus, when you publish randomly and less frequently, you often spend more time deciding what to create instead of being able to jump right into it!
A content calendar helps organize your content creation. It ensures publishing stays regular and on track and helps keep the team accountable and focused on communicating a clear message.
At a minimum, your content calendar should include:
- Publication frequency (how many times a week, month, etc, will you publish content?)
- The topics you will cover
- The person responsible for each content piece
- The deadline for publishing
- The channels for content distribution and promotion
Content recycling refers to re-using existing content and repurposing it in a new format. Content recycling is great for saving you time and expanding the reach and lifespan of existing content.
Consider how you can reuse high performing content in your community. For example, suppose you have a podcast for your community. In that case, you could recycle each episode into a blog article summarizing the main ideas for people who can't listen to the full episode.
Eventually, you want your members to create their own content! By encouraging user-generated content, you put your members at the front and center of your community. You want members to make noise, start conversations, and share experiences. However, bear in mind that this takes time and that most community engagement starts top down.
"Make contributing to your community as easy as possible. Recognize and celebrate members who create content by highlighting their community profile or pinning their content to the top of your newsfeed—this will encourage others to get involved
Dhia Hayouni, Customer Success Manager at Hivebrite
Consider how you can recycle user-generated content in your own content creation. Studies have shown that when UGC is combined with professionally produced content, engagement increases by 28%. For example, if attendees start to share photos from a great event you organized, consider regrouping all this content in a blog article that showcases the event and its key takeaways!
Surprise Your Members With a Community Takeover
A community takeover puts your community in the hands of another for a temporary amount of time. The person you put in charge could be a superuser of the community, a member of your organization, or an influential person who will bring value to your members.
A takeover enables you to shake things up by enabling the creativity of the guest host to shine. At the same time, the guest host gets to reach a new audience with their content. In most cases, it is a win-win situation!
Decide the goal of your takeover and how you will measure success. Here are two examples to consider:
- Increase engagement: Number of interactions (likes, comments, views, or direct messages), number of live viewers, etc.
- Promote a community event: Traffic to your event page, number of conversions, number of attendees, etc.
Next, decide how the takeover will take shape! Here are some examples of what your guest could do in the community:
- Run a live stream Q&A in the community
- Moderate a particular forum topic
- Run a live commentary of an ongoing event
Act Like a Human, Not a Bot
It's more tricky to connect on a human level with people behind a screen. As a community manager, you need to work extra hard to facilitate genuine interactions that build meaningful relationships. It's important to remember that you are building a community, not an audience. An audience involves talking to followers rather than engaging members. A community consists of conversing with members and building a connection with them.
Moderating your community doesn't just mean checking people stick to the posting guidelines. Community managers play an active role in facilitating conversations in the community. You can share ideas to get a conversation going or contribute to an existing discussion to steer it in a particular direction. This shows that you are as invested in the topic as members.
"Automation can be beneficial when managing a virtual community. Automated welcome messages and scheduled posts can save you a lot of time. However, you also want people to know that real humans are running the community—behind the screen is a person expecting another person to react. Be there for your members. Be authentic in your responses and demonstrate empathy
Laetitia Bazelly, Customer Success Manager, Hivebrite
Tag members in other members' posts if you know they can contribute or will find it helpful. Encourage members to post "Callouts" on the platform requesting help or advice on specific topics. Enable members to connect with other members requesting support or offering skills that correspond to what they're searching for.
Finally, be sure to ask for feedback on your community and be open to suggestions to enhance your community management strategy. This also demonstrates that your members' opinions matter to you, which will encourage members to contribute to the community and build advocacy.
Hivebrite is a comprehensive and flexible community engagement platform. It empowers organizations of all sizes and sectors to launch, manage, and grow fully branded private communities. Schedule a demo today!