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Many of us, marketers and community managers, have gotten into a point where we need to boost our community engagement but we get stuck in the process. We find ourselves searching for solutions that are oftentimes time consuming and ineffective. One practice that has definitely shown positive and effective results is creating opportunities to convert loyal customers into brand advocates.

Being the QuestionPro Communities platform leader, has given me the opportunity to observe, learn and generate insights on online communities engagement based on my customers’ experiences on ways to boost engagement. 

And strengthening your relationship with your customers is the best way to start this cycle. Then you identify ways to get them on your side and inspire your community to share your story as well. Here are a few suggestions on how to do it effectively.

Tip #1: Identify, and acknowledge the individuals that contribute in a constant basis, and ask them to set the example.

Many loyal customers receive such acknowledgment as a compliment and with pride. When doing so, you strengthen your relationship with them, while empowering them to showcase their positive experience with your product and services.

Tip #2: Give your community captivating and creative activities to promote engagement

One of the lessons I am constantly learning when working with my customers lies on how to provide different and creative opportunities to get users more involved and willing to contribute to the community. A great way to do so is by allowing your most engaged community members to lead some activities, empowering them to be more involved and influential in the community. Talk to them, ask them how they want to get involved, listen to their suggestions on how to get more engagement from other members, then enable them to do so.

An example I recently saw was from this community that created a ‘share your meal of the day’ event. The idea was created by one of the community’s CCF (Community Chief of Fun). The thought of it was that everyone had to share a picture of their favorite meal of the day. The picture that got the most ‘likes’ would receive a special badge for engagement, as well as would now be on the poll for becoming a future CCF. This activity resulted in great engagement rate of over 70% in that community.

Tip #3: Use content to promote your community

Content promotion still lies at the center of online communities. When you create relevant and useful content, you show your community members that you are listening to them, to their needs, and that you are committed to help them find solutions to their problems.

Recently I advised one of our customers to create a really interesting content campaign that resulted in great engagement. First the community manager reached out to the top 5 active community members, and called them the ‘community warriors’. Then asked how they wanted to contribute to the their group. Most of them expressed a willingness to write content relating their experience with their product. This community ended up with a user case blog, that was written based on the customers’ experience, and showcased their passion for that community. As a result, the community manager got a few emails from other community members asking how can they also be displayed on the blog.

As you see, by providing such fun activities your own loyal customers inspire and motivate other community members to also contribute and engage.

Tip #4: Offline connection is still an effective tool for relationship building.

Many companies are taking their online communities activities offline, and creating fun events… And so should you!

Let’s talk a little bit about MeetUps opportunities. Why not motivate and inspire your community leaders to engage in offline meetings as well? To do so, you can facilitate this activity by initiating it and being a crucial part of it. You may find a little difficulty on the first couple of meetings, and to avoid such challenges, make sure you have true clarity of your goals with these meetings, and make sure that you also show your community members the true value of those activities. If you are asking them to take time off from their personal lives to help you with these events, you better make it clear to them what are their benefits from doing so.

Tip #5: Now it is time to… Let it grow!

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Yes, Let it grow… Let it grow! I could not help myself but think of that sticky song by Idina Menzel that still haunts me… Well, with my little twist now. The same way that that song has stuck to our brains for the past year, once you create the right environment for a healthy, lively and engaging community, it will stick to your loyal customers, resulting in an organic growth. So let it do its job, and ‘Let it grow!’. Just make sure you are constantly nurturing, and fostering a healthy environment with fun activities. For more tips on how to nurture a healthy community, refer to a previous blog on nurturing a meaningful community.

My advise is that you use your platform as a tool to promote those activities within your loyal customers that are obviously interested in your products and services. The more involved they are, and the stronger your relationship with them is, the more they will be willing to motivate others to join the fun too!

Contact Us for more information on how to setup your online community.