When constructing your online community, you should always ask yourself the following question: "What value am I providing my customers and members?" However, even after you've answered that question and have determined the path you'll take, it's not uncommon for you to run into a couple of speed-bumps along the way.
For example, here are six mistakes that community builders make and how you can quickly resolve them in order to help your community grow.
1. Not Welcoming Members Properly
What do you do after a new member has joined your community? Hopefully, you've greeted them with a personalized email that introduced yourself. You may even go a bit further by sending them a welcome pack or introducing them to other members in a blog post, forum discussion, or newsletter.
But, what are you going to do after that initial contact? After all, it's going to take more than one email or introduction to get your new members engaged.
Kate Bapple suggests on Socius that you create a 30 day plan that includes at least "3 points of outreach targeted towards a member's first month in the community." Just remember to include a simple and specific call-to-action with each message, as well.
2. Not Listening
What are audience members discussing? What are their interests? How would they like to receive the content you've created? Are they satisfied with your products or services? What suggestions do they have that could improve your community?
Answering these questions will have a major impact on your community. Why would people want to speak when no one listens to them? Furthermore, as Michael Silverman states on Convince and Convert, you don't always know what's best for your community.That's why it's always important to remember communities are a two-way street.
Thankfully, there a number of tools that you can utilize to listen to what your customers are saying. These include Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Icerocket, Topsy, Social Mention and Google Alerts. You can also try out tools like Intercom and Olark to spark-up conversations with audience members and influencers.
3. Spamming Community Members
As Jonathan Long reminds us on Business 2 Community, "you should only be mailing individuals that have requested to be added to your marketing list." That's why it's important that you make sure that your emails are CAN-SPAM compliant. This means that your emails should follow these best practices:
Other common email mistakes include spammy titles/messages and an excessive amount of links and images. When constructing emails to your community, you also want to make sure that you keep them short and only contain useful information.
4. Not Keeping Track of Metrics
If you aren't keeping track of metrics, then how do you know what tactics are working or not working when reaching out to customers? Joshua Paul suggests on Socious that you keep track of the following six metrics if you want to improve the engagement of your community:
Other figures you could analyze would be the number of contributing members, click-through rates on emails, and the open rate of emails.
5. Lack of Resources
If you're a one-person operation, or working with a relatively small team, it's going to be challenging to create, share, and monitor the content you're providing for your community. And, after all that hard work, does that leave anyone with the free time to listen and engage community members?
Just like listening tools, there are seemingly an endless amount of tools and resources that you can use to help you plan, create and schedule content for your community. For example, you can recruit influential members or industry leaders to contribute to a discussion or even your blog. You can also rely on social media management tools--such as Buffer, Hootsuite, Everypost, Sprout Social or SocialOomph--to help maintain all of your social media accounts in one convenient dashboard.
Regardless of the size of your team, there's no excuse in not having the appropriate resources to reach and interact with your community.
6. Adding Features Just to Add Features
As Michael Silverman notes, the "primary value in creating an online community is handing your audience tools to interact with each other." His point is that you want your community members to bond with each other. So, why would you add a photo-sharing feature to an online community that focuses on poetry?
As Silverman reminds community builders, the "growth of your community may include adding new features. But always ask yourself what value that feature adds to the community as a whole."