You’ve no doubt seen hundreds of business articles claiming that content is king. But as quickly as content is churned out, it’s just as quickly yesterday’s news. At my company GirlsAskGuys, community is king. Our emphasis is on promoting the development of a community that will create fresh, new content. But building such a group requires an in-depth understanding of your members.
GirlsAskGuys is built around creating a community that sees each other as trusted-yet-anonymous friends who can be freely approached for advice about the opposite sex. Over the last seven years, our community has grown to include nearly 1 million members, and we have carefully honed our strategy around growth tactics proven through our own experience. Here are the 11 most important ones we learned for successfully growing an engaged online community:
Hire the Right Community Managers
You need people who are passionate, proactive and have people skills, because their role is to manage people rather than content or moderation. GirlsAskGuys has platforms in three different languages and cultural communities. Each of these platforms has dedicated community managers who are part of the unique culture.
Another important aspect of the right community manager is their ability to unplug from the digital environment. Being constantly immersed in your community can sometimes cause you to lose touch with what’s happening outside of it. But it’s important to observe social interactions in real life to give fresh perspective on your own community.
Every problem is a unique situation, so personalization of the support experience should continue to reinforce the community feeling. Don’t send canned messages and be as authentic as possible. Community managers should be real people with their own characteristics and personalities who engage with the community not only via individual messages, but also through the platform itself. You want your community to know you on an individual basis and not just see you as a faceless brand entity.
Set the Tone With New Member Integration
When new users join GirlsAskGuys, we begin the process of integrating them into the community and introducing them to the culture through a series of welcome emails and an extensive FAQ. You should focus on exposing new members to the community culture as quickly as possible with guiding documents, one-on-one interaction and community moderation. Let the idea of community culture permeate your communications.
Foster a Unique Community Culture
Through the process of growing our community, we noticed that community members began referring to themselves and each other as “Gaggers.” The phrase caught on and we officially adopted the term. You can foster a unique culture by watching the community language closely and incorporating it into your own communications, as well as by using symbols created organically by the community itself. Reinforce culture by talking to your users the way they talk to each other.
Identify Moderators to Encourage Ownership
Select community moderators who know the culture well and stay in touch with them. In the larger sense, moderation should become a task for the community itself, with community managers just preserving culture and encouraging others to moderate themselves by flagging inappropriate posts.
You want to give the community a sense of integrity and ownership of what is being posted, and make members feel as much a part of the company as the people who are employed by it.
Identify Power Users
Moderators are dedicated, but not necessarily as active as a community’s power users. Create a focus group of power users and listen to their feedback on technology and community aspects. Then use that feedback to direct the growth of the community and the platform.
Encourage Content Creation That Matches Your Community’s Interests
Figuring out the types of content that are popular within your community culture can create more engagement among community members. Showcase members’ viral content to shape the direction of future content creation. Our power users on GirlsAskGuys usually create this type of content on a regular basis, so we feature the content based on specific topics or users that community members follow.
Promote Community-Related Discussions and Watch Them Closely for Feedback
The post-modern aspect of community is understanding where you are and that you are part of the community. Use content that nourishes the community feeling, such as posts that ask users for feedback about the community itself.
We regularly request feedback from the community about new features. For example, we launched a new way for people to share opinions and named it after a member’s suggestion.
Be In Touch With Other Communities Within Your Proximity
Build relationships with additional people via social media sites, but also other brands that are in your proximity. Magazines like Cosmo and brands like Mac Cosmetics and Victoria’s Secret are related to my community. You should be building relationships with social media communities and brands that are relevant to your members.
Create KPIs to Measure and Analyze Community Engagement
Identify the KPIs that matter to you and measure them consistently. We measure the number of opinions per user on a daily basis and how long it takes for a question to get a response. These statistics tell us how people are engaging with our site’s content and with each other, and help us track the overall mood of the community at any given moment (which helps determine content decisions).
Provide the Right Tools for Effective Community Management
Lastly, you need to have the right technology available for moderators, community managers and throughout the platform itself to be able to do all of the things I’ve mentioned. GirlsAskGuys’ tools, such as automated moderation and communication features between managers and members, allows us to stay in touch while effectively managing content in a scalable way. They’ve also been imperative for identifying, measuring and analyzing the effectiveness of our moderation and community reporting.
Creating an engaged community takes time, commitment and a dedication to studying the trends and habits within your community in order to create a better experience for members. With these 11 tips, you’ll be well on your way to a highly engaged, flourishing online community.