How to Build a Strong and Enriching Community?
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A newly formed community is like a crawling baby who is learning to walk, communicate and better adapt to the environment around her so that she can survive. Just like babies do after spending almost 9 months in mother's womb secured and nourished.
Yes! Communities cannot be built in a day. They need constant nurturing to be grown and become self-dependent. I was chosen to manage a community which was no older than 1 month. I learned a lot while managing and growing along with that community. I was constantly experimenting as to what is working for the community, which posts were being liked by users, which posts were good enough to compel the users to comment. So, some of them were working while others were getting ignored. So, my work was to observe the pattern and keep experimenting accordingly.
So, here are my learnings on community building and Growth, which I am sharing with you all.
I was busy sharing my regular posts and communicating with users regarding their choices and likings for some specific posts. After a few days, I had a meeting with the founding team of a start-up which had been doing exceptionally well. Their area of work was different though but I learned from them how they started.
When I was emphasizing on their journey as to how they started. They shared a very good learning which was experimentation. They used to do more than 10 experiments in a week. There were times when all of the experiments would fail. But that was also a part of learning. They now had a list of things which were not suitable for their community and it helped them to take better-researched decisions in future.
Don't Make it Boring
Everybody likes entertainment but we Indians like it more I guess. They don't even bear superstars with bad movies. So, always try to entertain your users. Keep working on various ideas. Give them real content but not boring. If they get bored, it will take few seconds for them to follow the exit process. I tried almost everything I could find on social media when my brain stops working.
Be a good storyteller
Storytelling is an art and I am saying it with my little experience. But mastering that art isn't impossible. You can always learn and I think one should never stop learning. I had such poor English that it was even hard for me to form simple sentences but with time and patience, of course, I am now able to convey my emotions to others in a very simple and effective way and that's what storytelling is all about keeping it simple and realistic, right?
Keep it Simple and Short
Do not make it difficult for people to understand your content. And also nobody has the time to spend on something they don't require now. For example, you are telling them about the symptoms of anxiety disorder, why would they listen to you given the situation that they think of themselves as totally fine. They would get concerned when they are really getting affected. So what you can do is tell them to take a short quiz with questions on a subject such as 'ARE YOU MENTALLY HEALTHY?'
Connect With the Active Users
That's quite a secret. Yes! Always keep an eye on your active users. They are real contributors and also become saviors in crisis. You can track them weekly also but I do it every day like this is my first job to check out that how many people shared content many times in a day( of course good Content). You can reward them by announcing their names and also appreciate their advice particularly.
Be a Good Observer
Every post, every single comment of your community members, their likes/dislikes and any activity which has direct or indirect relation with your community should be taken care of. Your community managers should feel the love and respect. Their feelings should never be hurt. If any conversation is happening, you should interfere but be careful about it. Always appreciate the deserving ones in the community. Set some core values for your community and never compromise with that. Be it any branding or promotional issue; never let your members feel that they are being used/ fooled.
Don't Compromise With the Quality of Content
Yes, this really matters, if you want to keep them for the long term. Never share cheap and low-quality content. Don't share anything for the sake of engagement only. This content may get viral or engage users but that would be temporary. It may happen that a new user might not find it reliable and choose to exit. Your every post should reflect your community's value and reflect that you care for people.
Keep in Constant Touch With Your Product and Tech Team
When you are in the field, you need a backend team to support your actions and words. So if your users/members are sharing suggestions, you should listen to them as these suggestions can help your product team to improve their experience. While working with them, you figure out many other ways to help them.
Every community is unique in its own ways. Community building is a long process so it will require your continuous attention and effort. It takes a hell lot of hard work to see a 'thank you' message from one of your members. But I can promise that that message will pump you up to do much more for them and will make your day.