Engagement is the bedrock of human connection and in order to build a community, organizations need to engage with audiences beyond a yearly event. Developing opportunities that give audiences the ability to interact and connect with your brand over time, and in ways the they desire, allows fans to become your advocates. Taking the steps to connect with external customers can solidify your organization as a key stakeholder in the development of their career and create lifelong brand champions. Here are some tips on how you can create year-round engagement opportunities for your community.
Create Engaging Content
What kind of content are you creating? Is the content you’re creating the content that your audience wants to see? Creating relevant content for your consumers to encourage and excite them to actively interact with your brand is a fantastic way to strengthen your community. A monthly or daily newsletter, a blog, YouTube or Instagram videos are great channels to utilize when creating different kinds of content. Start pushing content out and use that to determine how your community wants to interact with you and then focus in on that channel. Once you’re creating content that your audience wants and enjoys, you are able to instill brand confidence and create active members of your community that actively read and share your content.
Create Networking Opportunities
Linkedin groups, happy hours, breakfast meetups and round-table discussions are great ways to connect your audience to each other and help foster a community. Develop networking opportunities and create a supportive environment for attendees year round, beyond a specific event, promotes trust and illustrates that your organization cares about attendees beyond a one-time event.
Reward Your Community
Once your audience has shown an interest in engaging with you, once they’ve attended an event or a networking opportunity and shared some content, reward them and show them your appreciation. Acknowledge that you know they can go elsewhere for content and events and show gratitude that they are choosing you over the many options available to them. Develop a relationship that is mutually agreeable and beneficial by creating a customer appreciation program. Perhaps your audience is granted free access to networking experiences for sharing content or money off of your yearly event or VIP access to networking events or special content. Give them something that promotes your appreciation of them and keeps them interested and coming back for more.
In a World Full of Distractions, Don’t Create More.
It’s easy to think that the more content you push out, the more chances your audience has to engage with you which, in theory, should solidify their position in your community. It’s easy to think that if you offer a few cocktail receptions throughout the year that that’s all they will need to stay engaged. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Engagement and being part of a community comes down to trust and connection. Does your audience trust your brand and do they feel connected to it? Ask them. And ask them often. Communicate with your audience to ensure the content your creating is the content they want, that the networking opportunities you offer interest them and that they feel seen and heard. Once an audience feels these things, they will become an essential community for your organization.