Long term community engagement: the ‘non-recipe’ for success

Keeping members of a community engaged, especially when we`re talking about a long-term community has always been a problem for any community manager, and while a lot of people will sell you the perfect plan on how to keep your engagement rates high, my personal experience tells me that there`s no perfect recipe for that.

Is it doable? Yes, for sure, but it does require a lot of work, it requires planning for things before, during and after you`ve built your community.

Let`s say you`re running a long-term community, how do you keep those people engaged and make them feel like they`re not wasting their time participating in your community? Because, make no mistake, you will have to create an ongoing positive experience for the members of the community for them to stay engaged and keep coming back. So how do we do that? There are 4 important factors. 

1: Connecting in the right way, at the right time 

One of the first things you have to keep in mind is the fact that keeping people engaged is an ongoing, proactive process and you have to reach your members with relevant content, info and benefits for them, and you`ll have to do it at the right time in the right way.

2: Stay true to the community objectives

A very important factor on how to keep those engagement rates high and how to reach your community members with content that`s relevant to them, it`s really good understanding who your client is, what your client does, how the community fits the overall research goals and the strategy of your client`s business, the ideal composition of this community and also designing a rewards structure that fits the profile of the community etc.

3: Keep it relevant 

Segmenting your community is also a very important aspect to keep in mind, because not all the engagement content is going to be relevant necessarily to all the people in the community, so if you are just showing everything to everyone, you are to some degree running the risk of making the community irrelevant to people of a certain segment, for example just because I`m a football fan, doesn`t mean that I`m a hockey fan, so we`d want to tailor the engagement content to match the profiles of the distinct groups, which would be determined based on the research objectives.  

4: Plan ahead

Creating an engagement schedule upfront also helps, this will allow you to get the most out of the community and in turn will enable to decision making people on the client side to make informed decisions that can massively affect their business and the services they offer. 

So yes, while a perfect recipe to keeping community members engaged does not exist, there are steps you can take to maximize the outcome of the work you`re putting in, with some careful planning and always keeping your finger on the pulse of your community, managing both the participant and stakeholders sides of things, you can definitely create a positive experience for both your client and the community members.