Engaging Content Formats for Online Communities
Creating highly engaging and fresh content is paramount for community growth. Community members tend to return to the community when they get to consume new content. Modern social media sites focus on this to improve the stickiness of the network. As a member, you would notice that there is always new and personalized content in your feed every time you reload.In a community, the members have a different type of expectation and preference for engagement.
Some members are selective and only prefer building networks with people who share the same interest. Others love to connect members from a wide range of interest groups and take part in big discussion groups. Another group of members would be invested in your company so they would suggest improvements for your products and services.
Finally, apart from these active members, you have lurkers who only consume the content without contributing to the community and improve their proficiency.
The crux of the matter is that although a community manager would have internal support, the engagement activities need to be carefully crafted and executed. So, how can a community manager efficiently churn fresh content for the members?
In this post, we have listed six different content tactics to generate high-quality, fresh, and engaging content for your community.
Ask Me Anything (AMAs)
Ask Me Anything sessions can be an amazing engagement driver via deep discussions. This content format allows members to ask any questions related to a topic and get answers from a subject matter expert. Ideally, you would alert the members two or three weeks before the sessions so people can ask questions. And finally, on the day of the AMA session, the host would answer the questions and engage with deeper discussions by addressing the follow-up questions.
The AMA session hosts can either come from your company or outside of the company. Given below are some popular examples:
AMA with influencers and experts
You can invite an influencer in your domain and create a win-win opportunity for your company as well as the influencer. The influencer gets exposed to your audiences and improves personal branding. Your company is able to get an expert to help customers.
For example, we hosted a community AMA with Edu Giansante who was awarded community person of the year by CMX Hub. The topics were around gamification, MVP programs, engagement plans, important community metrics, etc. The session resulted in a collection of thoughtful and high-quality content on various aspects of community building.
AMA with the product team
Conducting AMA by making the internal team as hosts, you can unlock the tribal knowledge base of your company.Especially, if you are getting the product team to host the AMA, you are offering an engaging channel for them to get involved in a deeper way. When the customers are involved in your product and ideation sessions to elaborate on their problems, they would be a part of your company's journey.
At Bettermode, we’ve found that offering customers a sneak peek into what we are working on establishes the fact that we are serious about the Voice of Customer. Also, it further cements our commitment to delight our customers with the best possible solution.
Your product team would get valuable insights on how the customers are using the solution, where they are struggling and what they are trying to achieve. This can reveal certain use cases that your team might not have thought of originally.
AMA with your company founders
Another way to involve the internal members of the company is to run an AMA by inviting the leadership team. Customers would appreciate the opportunity to discuss with the founders of the company and feel more connected with the company because of the easy access to the executive board.
Members can get more information about the vision of the company, its current direction, and how the company plans to reach its goals (both short-term and long-term). If you are offering several unique products and services, you can create separate AMA threads.
This also gives the executives to stay in touch with the customers directly and get a pulse of the sentiment from the grassroots level. You can also work with separate teams in the company to help the executives with research and further improve the answers.
Here is an example of how SurveySparrow (one of our clients) conducted an AMA by inviting the CEO as the host.
Certain segments of your community members would be more receptive to visual communication than text-based discussions. So you should also consider adopting the content format that allows video-based communications. Virtual events on a specific topic that interests different member cohorts is a great way to create engagement and product valuable content.
You could also plan an interactive session in which the members would be able to connect with each other and ask questions. This can get started with a set of icebreaker questions and a set of questions that the members would ask to their peers.
The AMA discussions mentioned-above can also transformed into virtual events. Just like the AMA, allow members to ask questions before a week or two and enable the host to prepare the answers. Finally, on the pre-scheduled date and time, you can interview the expert via live video and record the session.
You can repurpose the content, by extracting the key insights from the recorded session and posting the same on the community. The content can also be posted as a blog post and social media thread.
The majority of your community members who are logging in to your community are inclined to ensure that your product delivers the maximum value. And that can happen when your product addresses the use cases.
Hence, community members are more than willing to give feedback and highlight their expectations. Members of the Bettermode Community have voluntarily provided detailed and well-thought feedbacks by posting in the community.
For community managers, feedback surveys are a valuable content format. We’ve found at Bettermode that community visitors also love engaging with simple, one-question polls.
We pinned the poll to the top of the community feed and were delighted to see the answers pour in.
This type of survey questions directly help the product team, so you need to work with them to ask the right questions and keep the members at ease by using a friendly tone.
Support tickets as Q&A
Is the customer support department frequently encountering questions from a specific topic? Your knowledge can't address the questions in a detailed manner?
Well, you can create those questions in your community and answer them as well. This is important because if a handful of customers are raising questions around a topic, there is a high chance that many others must be facing the issues as well.
By converting these tickets into community posts, you are opening up the platform for discussions around a highly coveted topic.
Post a challenge and reward the members who solve the challenge most effectively. For example, the challenge could be around creating something using your product. If you can reward with virtual currencies that can be redeemed to purchase your services, it’d have added advantage.
- Leverage Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) by posting short-lived offers and prompt the members to take action. For example, if you are running a sale on your e-commerce store, you can post an exclusive offer for your members and in return ask them to spread the word.
- Consider running a “caption this” contest to encourage your members to comment on the images and GIFs and improve brand engagement.
- Set a scavenger hunt by hiding clues in your posts and offer a reward to the members who are able to find the right answers.
- Run a customization content and encourage users to showcase how they are customizing your solution. It can apply to anything from sneakers to software products.
- Create a trivia contest by posting questions around your product, company, or domain in which your business operates. That way you are educating as well as improving the community engagement.
- Another way to run a contest is to encourage members to fill in the blank. You can post a statement - “My favorite part of working with is _____” and ask members to post the complete sentence based on their experience. This can be a way to gather feedback as well.
- Run a contest by asking members to associate your brand with celebrities. A great way to assess the members’ perception of your brand personality.
This content format apt for companies in the technology space. These sessions are structured around a specific pain point associated with your product.
The key here is to zero in on the features or areas of the product that is most ambiguous and raises customer queries frequently. Looking into your support tickets and getting insights from the customer success team can help you identify the topics.
Once you know the topic that you would cover, get the help of an internal expert from your company to plan a knowledge-building session. Just like other promotions, you need to ask the members to post their concerns, questions, feedback before at least a week. Then the expert can start engaging with the members by helping them and addressing their queries.
This establishes that as a company, you care for your customers. Also, it helps you acquire additional insights for the specific areas of your product and shape the product strategy as well.
In this post, we explored various content ideas to improve community engagement. That said, every community engagement strategy must be rooted in an intricate understanding of the members. This is essential because these engagement plans require time investment and if the outcome is abysmal, it would hurt your community.
Also, not to forget, you can be creative with these content ideas to come up with something unique. If you act with a good understanding of the members' expectations and experiment with the engagement, your probability to succeed would be very high.
Finally, diligently measure every content experiment that you perform in the community and learn what works the best. Improving upon these ideas and building a robust engagement roadmap for different lifecycle stages of your community will help you meet the expectations of the members.