How To Engage With Your Online Community

Let’s take a step back, especially if you missed the previous post on ‘How To Build Your Online Community’, as you can’t engage what isn’t in existence.

In brief, plant your seeds in many places with your social account and presence; always think of building big data, as it gives you guaranteed reach to people interested in engaging with your brand, and finally, have a good landing page – that’s your go-to place where a first timer can get the important information, and a means to engage with the brand via call-to-actions such as: subscription, download, feedback, social share, etc. You can get more information on these here.

As the popular W4 saying goes – ‘Unto the next one‘. How then do you engage your online community?

Lucky for all, it’s a one word, all encompassing answer – Content!

There is nothing more important than content when it comes to engaging with your online community. In fact it’s all you’ve got, so you have to continually invest time and a little funds in sourcing and creating content  as video, photo, text, info graphics, newsletter, slides, etc.

Keep the content flowing and Engaging:

Blog: I tell people the best way to blog non-stop is to explore. You want to surf the web a lot and you are sure to find something you have an opinion about, and want to share. There is almost always a way to tie things you stumble upon to what your brand stands for – whether a product or service you offer. You also want to be on the look out for thought leaders in the area you brand plays, and have them feature on your blog via interviews, and guest posts.

Commsourcing: This is almost same as crowdsourcing, except you are now sourcing from the ‘community’. Here is where you ask the community for content – directly or indirectly, e.g. Photo Contests, Questions and Answers, Trivia, Polls, etc. You can then adapt some of these for content.

No such thing as boring brand, Think Wide

Yes, this is a very easy excuse to make up when dealing with a not so funky brand like soda. Imagine if you are trying to engage a community about taxes, or as a project management and consulting firm, it seems to be more difficult right?

Well, not really. Social media allow for the most unpopular topic to trend. All you have to do is adapt fun, and interactive ways of engaging the community. For example, infographics, short films, and beautiful slides can be used to share information about taxes, while giving  people the avenue to participate: asking questions and making comments. Again you may need to invest some resource in achieving this but it pays off.

Furthermore, look at your target group and study their social habits. What do they do online, Where do they go, What are their interest, and What tone in language do they hold? Most of the time, you’d end up with clusters and not just one group. Next step is device a means of getting through to these different groups; not just to inform but to engage, i.e., make room for them to respond, and give feedback. Most of the time, a good study of social habits of your target group allows you have a very seamless execution when it comes to engaging.

In a nut shell, while building your online community with people that have a certain degree of interest in what your brand represents and offers, you want to go all out to be like that friendly neighbour and welcome them with cookies, i.e., get to know them (via questions, trivia, polls) and collect data (via forms) with which you can always reach them (via SMS, emails,newsletters, social networks), and engage with them.

I hope with these few points of mine, I have been able to share how to build and engage your online community. For more, you can ask using the comment box and I will like to invite you to join me and a few friends during the Social Media Week, as we look at Social Media For Startups: How To Build And Engage Your Online Community on Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 at the Co-Creation Hub. More info and registration can be gotten and made here respectively.

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