Deeper Connection Through Online Communities
Throughout our lives we are presented with ways to connect and collaborate with people – be it study groups at every level of our education, organized sports, professional associations or even the “team” we are a part of at our jobs. The ability to lean on others when facing a new project, challenge or task is incredibly valuable and can be profoundly rewarding. We each bring a different perspective to every situation, so having the ability to tap into the unique views of others can help us see things in a completely new way. At their core, this is exactly what makes online communities so important.
In a lot of ways, online communities are the original social network. They allow individuals to present ideas and engage in a discussion that may not have happened otherwise. One of the great things about online communities is that the collaboration happens in groups, among people from all areas of the world and walks of life that may not have ever met.
Participation in the community not only benefits the members, but the organization as well. Highly engaged community participants, those that don’t post all that much, the topics people contribute to; each action, or lack thereof, tells you more about who your members are as individuals giving you more marketing power. The challenge for a marketer is encouraging community participation from the beginning of the relationship to deepening the connection the member has with the organization.
The good news is that today’s technology equips marketers with all of the tools they need to understand their audience and personalize messages to encourage community participation. Automated campaigns can not only help to send a series of emails, but flow your members down appropriate paths to enhance their journey.
Here are some ways to help encourage community participation right from the start:
- If you do not currently have one, set up a welcome campaign for new members. This is a perfect first automated campaign to run, and allows you to highlight areas of benefit for your members. Use one of the emails to introduce your online community and invite signing up. Utilize decision steps to check participation (did they click through, did they create a login, did they post, etc.) so that you can customize your follow-up message to be more relevant.
- Integrate your online community with your email platform and database to be able to leverage all of this data across all platforms. Not only will this help keep data clean, but give you additional information to base targeting on like NHPCO did to increase the reach of their content.
- Just as you would personalize email stories based on your audience, customize an email with a list of topics being discussed that may be more relevant to segments of your audience based on position or their marketing persona.
Online communities are a tremendous resource for members to engage, interact, and exchange ideas for the betterment of membership overall. Enticing people from the outset of their membership will help to strengthen their relationship with your organization and can result in long term memberships.
These are just some of the ways that you can begin customizing your marketing plans to increase online community participation. Ready for more great ideas? Check out our guide, Online Community Engagement with Marketing Automation.