After establishing an organic community, the hard part is making sure they stick around for the long run. Marketers thrive in acquisition mode, weakening on the retention model. Daily engagement, community growth, and participation are the true measures of success. We have tried and tested many best practices for digital community outreach, and have narrowed down three for the Middle East market that grew affinity and advocacy.
The first rule of community building is that the platform is meant to serve the interests of the participants, not the sponsor brand. For this to work, there must be a clear-cut exchange of value between member and sponsor. As the host of the community, your team must create the groundwork for a relevant experience that elevates the customer trust. The sponsor must respond to each and every meaningful member of the community, those that ask questions or provide answers that grow value for the spectators. Publicly thank them and reward them in the manner that reflects an attention towards their sentiments.
For instance, we sent a working mum a gift card from her favourite clothing retailer and publicly announced it on the forum as a means of reinforcing what the community is all about. This is one of the ways in which digital community outreach is optimised to ensure conversations are incentivised. A clearly articulated sense of purpose helps drive the community forward, perhaps helping ease the concerns of new mums, guided by the mums that have been identified by the sponsor as subject matter experts.
After following the above, and laying the foundation for successful digital community outreach, you can redirect energy towards communication tactics that grow brand equity, the loyalty of the community, and foster a sense of collaboration within the community. When growing brand equity, we have experimented with and generated results with help content articles, a behind-the-scenes series for top community contributors, and giving them exclusive access to membership cards that double as digital wallets for accessing premium deals. You can build loyalty in the community by tapping into C2 for email newsletters that feature the top ten ideas contributed by members, ranked by the community and ranked by the sponsor. Have a reward for the winner of each ranking. This creates a feedback loop and instils the path for adding value to the digital community and the sponsor.
When the above best practices are followed, the brand can create a valuable platform that generates actionable insights and user generated content for the long run.