Despite a high number of members, an online community can feel like a ghost town. And there’s nothing more frustrating for community creators along with the members themselves.
It’s like shouting your message into a crowded room where everyone has noise-canceling headphones on - despite your efforts to get a message across to members (and vice versa), nobody hears it.
Whether you’re starting from scratch and want to get it right the first time around, or you’re struggling with a disengaged community - we’re here to help you overcome this challenge.
This guide on how to engage an online community will have your Discord server, Facebook group, or other online community buzzing with conversation and excitement.
We’ll touch on some of the common pitfalls associated with unengaged communities so you can right the ship. You’ll also learn specific tactics creators can employ that supercharge engagement across the community - from AMAs to in-person meetups, and a whole lot more. First, let’s set the stage by explaining just how valuable an engaged community is.
Why Engaged Online Communities are So Valuable
Anyone trying to learn how to build an online community does so with the goal of high engagement. After all, your ability to keep members engaged is what actually dictates the value of your community.
First of all, an engaged online community can significantly boost your authority. When people see that you've created a space where like-minded individuals come together, they'll recognize you as a thought leader in your niche.
This is only true, though, when members actively discuss, share ideas, and learn from each other within the community. It's like a ripple effect - the more your community grows and engages, the more your authority and credibility will soar. Your membership works as a loudspeaker for your voice and ideas - amplifying your message near and far.
But really, the main reason you must put an emphasis on engagement comes down to monetization. Whether you charge for access to Discord or use your free community as a means of promoting other products/services you offer, your income potential is directly tied to how engaged your community is.
If your goal is to one day resell Discord servers, you will earn a much higher multiple if you can show potential buyers that your community is thriving and buzzing with engagement.
Plus, you can use member feedback to tailor your offerings to better suit their needs, increasing the likelihood of repeat business. In addition, engaged communities often attract potential sponsors, advertisers, or even partners who see value in associating their brand with your community.
All of this is to say that learning how to engage an online community is an invaluable use of your time and resources. It can be the difference between a successful community that fulfills your inner purpose (while earning you a substantial income) and an empty echo chamber where thoughts go to die. So, before we give you specific online community engagement tips, let’s talk about what you should avoid…
What are the Common Culprits for Poor Online Community Engagement?
We could make the argument that avoiding these five engagement-killers is more important than the actual online community engagement tips we’ll share later on. Because if these things are happening in your community, there’s really nothing that can save engagement until they’re addressed.
Your members joined your community for a very specific reason. Maybe it’s for sports betting picks. Or, maybe it’s for video game content. Whatever the case, sharing irrelevant content can create a disconnect that leaves members feeling alienated - questioning why they joined in the first place.
The end result is they either leave your community, causing issues with retention, or they just sit on the sidelines and remain unengaged. Neither of these is an acceptable outcome.
To avoid this, always consider whether the content you share aligns with your community's purpose and values. Make it a habit to curate content that adds value and fosters conversation.
Part of what makes a thriving online community so great is that sometimes, it can sort of run itself without your intervention. Nevertheless, remember that community members rely on you to start the conversation, provide thought-provoking content, or offer something for them to interact with.
So - when you go a few days, weeks, or months without posting, it’s inevitable that engagement will drop. This is why maintaining a regular posting schedule is so crucial to keeping engagement up. Consistency is key, after all!
A well-moderated community fosters a positive and respectful environment. The other side of the coin is a poorly moderated community, which is filled with spam, toxic behavior, and even harassment, driving away valuable members.
To tackle this issue, establish clear community guidelines and enforce them consistently. Don't hesitate to seek help from trusted members to assist with moderation tasks, ensuring a safe and welcoming space for everyone.
This is something that we discussed heavily in our article on creating good Discord server rules. We’ll talk more about it later on, along with how you can use the best Discord server bots to assist you in this.
So much focus is placed on how to grow your Discord server - and rightfully so. Strength in numbers, right? Well, yes - but at a certain point, engaging a huge community becomes especially challenging.
Think about it like this - a small, 1,000-person community where everyone is active is far more valuable than a 100,000-person community with only a handful of members contributing.
Your goals should shift from focusing on sheer size to bringing in the right members and curating high engagement. Not only is this more valuable for both you as a creator and your membership - but it’s also more manageable.
Even if you build your community with the sole purpose of bringing together like-minded individuals and curating a fun sense of community, promotion is part of the game. It’s what keeps the lights on in the building, so to speak. And once you realize just how lucrative an online community can be, you’ll learn to love promotion opportunities!
But whether you’re promoting your own products/services or you’re partnering with other advertisers/creators, there is a point where promotion can start to have drastic consequences. If users start to get burnt out from promotional messages in the community, they’ll turn off notifications and stop engaging.
All of this is to say that promotion is a sharp sword that should be wielded wisely. Use it sparingly and you’ll find a great balance between income generation and a happy, thriving digital community.
How to Engage an Online Community: Tips for Building an Engaged Community From the Start
Now, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for - we’re going to teach you how to engage an online community from the start! There are 7 tips we want to share that will foster a community that remains engaged.
After this, we’re going to share some specific online community engagement techniques that you can employ if you’re looking to boost engagement. But let’s start by outlining the purpose of your community.
First, Define Your Community’s Purpose
This one should go without saying - but the purpose of your online community should be crystal clear to anyone who is considering joining. This will go a long way in curating the right type of members. It will prevent issues with irrelevant content driving down engagement, and ensure that everyone feels at home in your community.
This first requires you to know what you want to build a community around. Is it gaming or sports betting? Is it financial advice? Perhaps it’s how to engage an online community!
Whatever it is, you should use your community’s name, description, welcome message, and outreach tactics in accordance. Speaking of welcome messages…
Warm Welcomes Go a Long Way
Never underestimate the power of a warm welcome. When new members join your community, make them feel right at home by greeting them personally or through a dedicated welcome message.
This sets the tone for your community as a friendly, inclusive space where everyone is valued. Additionally, a thoughtful welcome can encourage new members to participate in discussions and interact with others, fostering a sense of belonging right from the start. If you set the tone with a new member and let them know this is a place where their voice matters, they’re far more likely to engage with your content and other members’ content.
Don’t Just Encourage Participation - Reward it
Encouraging participation is essential, but taking it a step further and rewarding active members can do wonders for engagement. Recognize and appreciate members who contribute to discussions, share valuable content, or help others.
This could be through personalized messages, public shout-outs, or even rewards like badges or special roles. When members feel acknowledged and appreciated, they're more likely to continue participating and advocating for your community. We have an article on how you can automate this process through automated Discord rewards.
Invest in Solid Moderation
As we mentioned earlier, poor moderation can be an engagement-killer. If you curate the right type of members, this won’t be as much of an issue.
Nevertheless, investing in solid moderation is crucial for maintaining a space where individuals feel encouraged and safe to share their thoughts with the rest of the community. If your members fear the response that others may have to their ideas, they’re not going to be active in the group.
This requires careful rules creation along with strict enforcement. You can rely on other members to help you enforce the rules, but a far better approach is to leverage the power of a Discord membership bot. This ensures that nothing gets missed - and rule breakers are handled swiftly without the need for you to intervene directly.
Maintain a Regular Schedule - but Don’t Let Things Get Stale
Consistency is vital for keeping your community active and engaged. Maintain a regular posting schedule, initiate discussions, and encourage member participation. Members will start to look forward to specific types of content on certain days.
With that said, it's also crucial to keep things fresh and exciting. Introduce new topics, host events, or bring in guest speakers to prevent your community from becoming stale. By regularly offering new experiences and opportunities, you'll keep members engaged and coming back for more. We’ll share some specific tactics you can employ shortly.
Analyze and Adapt
Finally, it's essential to continuously monitor your community's engagement and adapt your strategies accordingly. Regularly assess what's working and what isn't, and use these insights to improve your community. By staying attuned to your members' needs, preferences, and feedback, you'll be able to fine-tune your community and ensure its long-term success.
Specific Engagement Techniques You Can Try to Ramp Up Engagement
Now, even following best practices isn’t enough sometimes to maintain high engagement. So - when things start to get a bit stale or mundane, you can ramp up your online community engagement with these powerful tactics.
Ask Me Anything Sessions (AMAs)
AMAs are a fantastic way to boost engagement by giving members a chance to interact directly with experts, influencers, or even yourself.
These Q&A sessions work so well because they foster a sense of personal connection and provide valuable insights. To make your AMA unique, consider hosting it in a themed format, or invite an unexpected guest to create buzz and excitement around the event.
Your community is nothing without your members. So - take the time to highlight one of them every week or every month!
Shining a spotlight on your community members is a powerful way to make them feel valued and encourage others to participate. Member spotlights showcase individual achievements, stories, or contributions, which helps create a strong sense of community.
To make this tactic truly special, consider creating multimedia content, such as video interviews or podcast episodes, to highlight members in a more engaging and memorable way.
Personally Reach Out to Disengaged Members and Win Them Back
Sometimes, all it takes to re-engage a disengaged member is a personal touch. Reach out to inactive members individually, showing genuine concern for their well-being and offering help or resources.
This approach demonstrates that you truly care about your community and its members. To make your outreach more impactful, consider offering exclusive content, opportunities, or incentives tailored to the individual's interests and needs.
Run Contests or Giveaways
In all our experience of creating content across a multitude of platforms, nothing creates engagement quite like contests or giveaways. People love the chance to win free stuff!
So, you can leverage people's innate competitive nature and desire for recognition or prizes as a means of driving up engagement when things start to slow down To make your contest stand out, try incorporating a creative challenge or theme that aligns with your community's values and interests.
Use Polls or Surveys Often
Polls and surveys offer a quick and easy way for members to share their opinions and preferences. They're effective because they make members feel heard and valued while providing valuable insights for you.
To make your polls and surveys more engaging, consider using interactive formats, such as live polls during events or incorporating images and GIFs. This is also a great way to come up with new content ideas - you can ask your membership directly what they want from your community. Create content that aligns with their responses and watch engagement soar.
Get Personal With Your Members
Building personal connections with your members can deepen their sense of belonging and loyalty to the community. Chances are, many of your members joined your community because of you specifically.
Share your own stories, experiences, or insights, and encourage members to do the same. To make these personal connections even stronger, consider hosting intimate live sessions or group chats where members can get to know you and each other on a deeper level.
Schedule in-Person Meet Ups
Even a thriving digital community lacks that physical connection. So, overcome this hurdle by organizing regular in-person meetups.
These provide an opportunity for members to connect face-to-face, strengthening their bond with the community. These events work well because they create memorable experiences and foster genuine connections. To make your meetups truly special, consider hosting them in unique locations or incorporating fun activities that cater to your community's interests.
User-generated content encourages members to share their own creations, experiences, or stories within the community. UGC works well because it not only boosts engagement but also showcases the diverse perspectives and talents of your members.
To leverage UGC effectively, create themed challenges or prompts that inspire members to create and share their own content, adding a unique twist to your community's conversations.
Advice for Capitalizing on a Highly-Engaged Online Community
Picture this: you’ve got a thriving online community with incredible engagement. You can hop into various channels in your community and at any given time, there is a flourishing conversation happening. Now what?
Our guide on creating a paid Discord server will help you gain a better understanding of how to monetize your community. And with a Discord subscription bot like Whop, this is easier than ever. You can use our software to automate so many important processes within your community - from moderation to payment processing.
We encourage you to look into Whop and see what’s been missing from your community all this time. You’ll discover why so many community creators are making the transition to powering their communities through the Whop bot!
Wrapping Up Our Guide on How to Engage an Online Community
Building the best online community is no easy feat - but it’s well worth the time and effort. And with the help of Whop, things like monetization, management, and creation can all be automated. You’ll have more time to work on your community rather than in your community.
If you want to learn more about online community creation, explore our blog for resources on topics like Guilded vs Discord, how to boost a Discord server, how to add a Discord banner, how to create roles on Discord, Discord server creation, and a whole lot more!
But for now, it’s time to wrap up our guide on how to engage an online community. Try these online community engagement techniques yourself and see what’s possible!