efore we dive into anything else, let’s understand what a community actually means. Be it offline or online — a community is a place to interact with people of similar goals or interests, learn and grow, and build real connections. Virtual communities and other community meetup platforms aid these interests and serve many purposes. They are used by brands, research organisations, changemakers, for medical purposes and numerous such applications.
So what is the significance of virtual communities, you ask? Here we’ve listed out some ways that virtual communities help us.
- Unite people: Virtual communities bridge physical distances between people and help them connect with each other. People from across the world come together because they have the same interest or purpose. Bound by the common goal, it fosters the feeling of unity, and each individual succeeds as the community succeeds.
- Support learning: In a community, members exchange ideas and knowledge and learn from one another.
- Enable a platform to give feedback: If your virtual community is for the users of your product, the platform can be used to gather feedback from members and incorporate the feedback to improvise the product.
- Grow network: As you engage with fellow members of the community, you make new connections and grow your network infallibly.
(Read more about “How to start a community” and “Proven strategies to grow and scale your community”)
However, just creating a virtual community is not enough. It requires a lot of nurturing and positive engagement amongst the members, for your community to thrive.
Many virtual communities fizzle out because community managers do not know how to engage their online communities. It requires a focus on engagement and providing value to your members, rather than the size of the community. Size is a by-product of community engagement.
"Content is a community manager’s best friend! Post interesting and compelling content that is food for thought and conversation."
How to nurture and engage your community
Smart community managers, however, learn the ropes of nurturing their communities. The tips given below form a concise guide to nurturing and engaging your virtual communities.
- Content for conversation: Content is a community manager’s best friend! Post interesting and compelling content that is food for thought and conversation.
A proven way that gets members to respond is — asking questions. Post a few relevant questions or seek opinions on relevant matters. These techniques act as catalysts and get conversations going.
- Participate regularly: Don’t be the occasional visitor to your community. Be a part of it. Read posts, review them and respond to them at the earliest. Remember a timely and appropriate response from the community manager will garner interest among your members.
- Make members feel valued: Listening and asking are two ways to make your members feel valued. Listen and take into account their feedback and suggestions.
Also, when there is a new development underway ask them for their opinions and feedback. It will make them feel valued, wanted and will have a direct effect on their engagement with the community.
- Notifications: Another time-tested method that increases engagement. Most often, people post a comment or share information and seldom come back to check on it.
By enabling notifications, members are intimated when there is some activity on their post or comment. So, responding to notifications is a simple way to get them back on the platform and increase engagement.
- Member benefits: Give your members some other benefits. It could be a sneak peek of products and/or innovations before the rest of the world gets privy to them. Members of your community can be given exclusive discounts and offer on in-house products or other related products as well.
- Adopt other forms of engagement: Apart from the routine forms of engagement, provide your members with more value-driven engagements. Arrange for webinars, virtual workshops or tech conferences. Such events will have your members looking forward to interactions that add value.
You could consider opening these events to non-community members and boost conversions. Leverage Airmeet platform to set up immersive and delightful events for your virtual community members without any hassle.
- Attitude of gratitude: Convey your gratitude and appreciation for the group by thanking your members. It could be through a personal note or group communication. But a note of thanks always makes people feel good and motivated and this helps strengthen your relationship with them.
- Measure and track: You must track and measure your community’s performance. The number of members, growth and activity are three key indicators used by most community managers to track their virtual community.
Tracking your community helps you understand your progress and charter new goals and activities for community engagement.
- Keep learning: Using all the aforementioned tips is sure to get your community active and buzzing. But, don’t get complacent. Best selling author, Jeremy Gutsche says, “complacency is the architecture of your downfall.”
Keep learning from other communities. This will help you keep track of innovations in the market. Learning will give you a direction and help you keep your community active and up-to-date.
Nurturing your virtual community needs both dedication and time. Add these two key ingredients along with the tips mentioned above and see your community grow by leaps and bounds.