I have a special place in my heart for online groups. Groups, communities – call them what you will - but something magical happens when you get like-minded people in a closed and safe place. I love building online communities. I love seeing new relationships being formed and information being shared. In our highly digitized world, we are craving human interaction and an online community is a great place to connect with others around a shared passion or interest.
Here are a few reasons why I think groups are a great tool to have right now and how to make the most of them.
Because most groups tend to be private, they are more exclusive and intimate than a public forum or page. They are made up of a smaller subset of people with shared interests. This tends to create more honesty, transparency, authenticity and yes --- engagement!
In a world where we are blasted with so much information, it is nice to have a space where you are guaranteed to talk and learn about topics you care about. Groups are an incredibly valuable tool for connecting with your audience.
Whether you currently manage an online group or are thinking of starting your own, here are my nine tried and true tips to help you create a rocking community.
9 Community Management Tips
1. Have a purpose
Your group must have a clear and unique purpose. Why are you creating a group? How will it be different from other groups out there? Identify the purpose and communicate it clearly. People will be more likely to join a group if they understand what its purpose is and what they can expect to get out of it.
2. Organic opt-in
Don’t add people without their permission - especially on Facebook. Groups only work if the members want to be a part of the conversation. You won’t get high engagement if your members don’t have an organic interest in your group. When it comes to members, quality is more important than quantity.
The exception to this rule is if they are already a member of your organization or if they are a paid customer.
3. Welcome new members
It’s always a good idea to send a welcome message to new members soon after they join. It will make them feel welcome and valued, and it may encourage them to actively join the conversation.
You can take this a step further and ask them a question or two when you send the welcome message. Ask why they joined the group and what they’d like to get out of it. Their answers will likely lead to conversation and content ideas!
As the group leader and moderator, it’s important to keep the discussion going. Always have a list of post ideas that you can pull from to ensure the group never goes silent.
I like to equate this idea to a campfire. It’s your job to “start the campfire” by initiating conversation. Once it dwindles, stir the fire a little. Add to the conversation, plug in new information or invite a new person to share their ideas. But know when it’s time to add a new log to the fire by starting a new conversation. Don’t let the fire go out!
5. Monitor and moderate but don’t monopolize
It’s your job to ask questions and make sure people follow rules, but don’t always be first person to answer every question. You want to give your members a chance to reply and share their own input. This is what a community is all about! Let the discussion take its own course, but be there to steer it back in the right direction if need be.
6. Stay consistent
Be consistent across the board - with how often you post, the rules you use, etc. This
sets clear expectations for the community, and your members will know what behavior is appropriate for your group.
7. Be personal and authentic
This is what groups are all about! Once you open up, your members will too. Group members are often more authentic and honest than they are on a public page, but they need a little push to share. They will follow your lead, but first you need to take the plunge and share about your own experiences.
8. Go Live weekly
Video content of any kind is valuable, but Going Live is especially important. If your platform allows it, go Live once a week. Going Live creates a time for dialogue and is one of the best ways to create relationships and literally get your face in front of your group members.
9. Reward ambassadors or power users
Recognize and reward ambassadors, champions or power users. These are people who are engaging organically and clearly really enjoy your group. Keep their involvement going by recognizing their contributions! The reward can be anything from monetary to a thank you note. You could also feature them in some way, such as a highlight post or a Live video Q&A in your group.
Were these tips helpful? Let me know which one motivated you the most in the comments!