Olivia Hook, NASCIO Research and Digital Communications Coordinator
*Note: Some of the features mentioned below are specific to the Higher Logic community platform, but there are several other platforms with similar features.
With the use of online communication collaboration platforms on the rise, the concern with member engagement is ever present among community managers. Our members are busy professionals, no matter their industry, and few have time to log into yet another account and read through dozens of discussion threads. Read on for a few tips on how to improve and increase engagement in your association’s online community.
Acknowledge member contributions
Encourage your members to engage with your association and their colleagues through a personal ask. Reach out to members who have been absent in the conversation in your online community and encourage them to voice their opinions.
Recognize your rock star members who are always ready to help out a colleague and answer a question on the discussion board. If your online community’s features include automation rules that assign ribbons, use them! Everyone likes to be recognized for their work, and a ribbon on their profile for being a model association member can do the trick. Similar to the ribbons is the “best answer” function. If your community has a “best answer” function, don’t be shy to click it! This button brings that response to the top of the feed, making it more noticeable to those who are quickly skimming though a feed, while giving the poster some recognition. Read up on your community’s functions and abilities and don’t be shy to try new things!
Make engagement easy
Our members have daily to-do lists that don’t include engaging with your association, so making it easy to do will garner more engagement. Remind your members to utilize the online community every chance you get, and be available when they have questions or need their password reset.
Provide weekly or monthly tips and tricks that will help your members become a savvier community user. You can post these tips on the home page so your members know where to look for them.
Facilitate when necessary, but don’t overpower
Avoid answering your members’ questions, and instead, encourage other members to lend their expertise. An ideal community is member-driven. Your job as the community manager is to facilitate, not control the conversation. When you do post, lead by example with short, to the point answers to discussion posts.
Be clear about how engagement benefits your members
If a member answers a colleague’s question, they are more likely to get a response to the questions they pose. Make it known that your community is a space where your members can speak openly with their colleagues about frustrations they are experiencing, as well as successes. Your community is a unique venue where they can quickly get advice from your entire membership through a single post.
Remind your membership about the features and functionality of your online community platform. At each conference, on each committee call, whenever and wherever you can, talk about this helpful communication collaboration platform. You would be surprised by how many members are not aware that the use of this platform is one of their benefits of membership!