3 Ways To Build An Engaged Online Community
How many online groups or communities are you a part of? Facebook reports that 850 million of its users use the Groups feature each month. Of the groups you’re a part of, how many do you actively engage with? If you try searching for a particular interest or subject, chances are you’ll find a dozen options. So what makes one group more active or interesting than another? If you’re interested in the topic or subject, how do you create an actively engaged group?
At CaredFor we know how to build actively engaged online communities. Our clients use our software to power patient and family engagement platforms for behavioral health and addiction treatment. We’ve compiled our 3 strategies for building an active and engaged online community.
Create A Content Plan
The first step is to make sure you have a content plan. If users login and there are no posts or the posts are infrequent, they’ll feel as if the group is neglected. Your content plan doesn’t have to be overly complex. Compile a list of discussion topics, links, or content that relevant to your group and schedule (if your platform provides that feature) it to be posted. When creating your content plan make sure you’re creating authentic content experiences and not solely reposting links to articles. Explores ways to engage the group with AMAs or discussion questions. Stay current with news or information related to your group and post any related articles. This helps to establish your group as a trusted source for information.
Invite New Members
You can create the most elaborate content plan, but if there aren’t users to consume it, your group will grow stale. Each group needs a critical mass of users to become successful. If you have an online group of 10 users, chances are there isn’t enough actively to build frequent engagement. The community app Nextdoor reports that it won’t authorize a new neighborhood in its app until there are at least 50 homes (although it recommends 100). Nextdoor understands that each group needs a minimum number of homes before it can be successful. For your online community, there best way to build your base is to invite new users. Identify your target audience and reach out and invite them. Remember this is a continually process. Our clients use CaredFor as a private invite-only experience. The invite process allows admins or users to invite via email, sms, or sharing a link. Once access is approved, the user is able to participate in the group. Map out the new user workflow for whichever platform you’re using (i.e., Facebook, GroupMe, etc) and create an invite strategy. New users add tremendous value to your group, so don’t stop inviting them!
The role of an administrator or moderator in an online group is an important responsibility. Typically this role is responsible for approving new users, replying to posts, creating new content, and setting the tone for the group. As the admin or moderator, if you’re not active in the group, engagement and activity will immediately drop. Consider delegating tasks to other admins or moderators so the amount of work isn’t so overwhelming. We recommend that CaredFor admin spend 15 minutes 3-4 per week in the app. This includes creating posts, inviting users, and reacting to posts or leaving comments. By creating additional admins or moderators our clients are able to achieve daily coverage and my using reporting tools and push notifications they stay alert to the most important posts which may require their attention.
Did we miss anything? Feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on social @caredfor with your recommendations.