The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapters 15, 16, 17

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapters 15, 16, 17

Chapter 15 —

Stop Spinning Your Wheels with Random Tactics; Use THIS Plan Instead.

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How to choose what to try first.

This can be tricky if you don’t create a full out community strategy, but my guess is that you won’t (no shame) so here is what I would suggest. When it comes to tactics you need to think about a couple things.

  1. Will everyone see it or is it one on one.
  2. How long do the effects of the tactic last?
  3. What kind of change or influence will this have on your members?
  4. How much of your bandwidth (time) does this tactic take?

Rate each tactic on a scale from 1-3, for each point above and then add up the numbers.

Simply start with the tactics that have the highest numbers (that more members will see, that have the longest and most influential impact). Also look at your bandwidth to see how you can divide your time up.

NOTE: You don’t want to be doing 10 or 15 tactics. Start with 5 maximum.

How to decide if something is working (and keep doing it) or when to stop and try something else.

When trying out new tactics Richard Millington from FeverBee recommends a 3 month testing period. This allows you to collect data on your community and how it’s reacting to your tactics.

Once you have 3 months of data you can look at it to assess how effective each tactic was. Look at that same information that you used when choosing your tactics (the 4 points above) and rate the success of each aspect from 1-3.

Then you can see what is working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, simply stop doing it and either replace it with a new tactic or add that time to the tactics you’re already implementing successfully.

If you’d like a simple and easy way to track your tactics and their success, grab a copy of this free spreadsheet. It’s make this all seem WAY easier. Trust me.

BONUS MATERIAL: Grab your copy of the master spreadsheet

I’ll also send you BOTH my ultimate guides (and bonus offer spreadsheets and systems) to help you engage the members in your online community.

Chapter 16 —

Wrap Up: What You’ve Learned and What Comes Next?

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Holy FUCK. Was that good for you? Cause it’s was hella good for me. So good I might need a cigarette… and I don’t even smoke. Oo la la

So what all went down in this beefy beast of a guide?

Let’s recap, cause there’s a lot going on!

We established, explored and dug into…

  1. Why I only focus on paid communities and not free facebook groups.
  2. 4 common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when it comes to their course communities, so you can dodge them.
  3. How a community can stress you out and how to stop worrying.
  4. Debunking the age old myth about size mattering so you can move forward with a small community.
  5. The importance of emotions and how you can trigger them in 9 different parts of your community.
  6. How to make your community sticky as fuck and keep your members coming back for more.
  7. How to actually go about welcoming people into your community so they can make themselves at home right off the bat.
  8. What is your job as host…really?
  9. Your fears about TIME and how much tic-toc a community actually needs.
  10. The platform you’ve chosen and how that can impact engagement.
  11. “Auto posting” and “daily threads” and why they aren’t always so great.
  12. Self-promotional assholes and how to keep them at bay.
  13. Live coaching and how it can make a community even better.
  14. How you can know that your actions are making an impact.
  15. 8 techniques that I personally use to engage the communities I manage or engage in.
  16. How to implement and test your tactics in the long term.

With this badass guide in your back pocket, you’ll be able to approach your community with a new sense of calm and control AND be able to authentically engage your audience so that your course community transforms into a more self-sufficient machine of support, sharing and caring.

It’s a win-win. Your students feel supported, connected and get results faster, and you set the foundation for fans for life, killer testimonials, and star students to brag the shit out of.

Chapter 17 —

FREE BONUSES

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That’s right folks, not only am I pouring my grey matter out all over this page, I wanted to give you even more free shit to help ensure that you can engage your community members.

Take a lookie-loo at the bonuses below and if ya’ dig em snap them up. Just tell me where to send them and I’ll hook you up.

BONUS MATERIAL: Get the whole enchilada of bonus materials to engage your community members.

I’ll send you BOTH my ultimate guides (and bonus offer spreadsheets and systems) to help you engage the members in your online community.

  • FREE BONUS #1: Want to know where you’re dropping the engagement ball in your community? Take this quick quiz/audit and see where you’re leaving engagement on the table and quick fixes you can do right now to change it.
  • FREE BONUS #2: Engagement checklist and tracker sheet to see what you’re already doing, what you have yet to try and how you’re implementing it.

A Quick Something-Something Before You Go

The fact that you read through this entire guide shows that you’re serious about making your community engaged AF and maybe you know other badasses that want to do the same.

If you do know someone that would be over the moon to learn what you read here, I’d love (and super appreciate it) if you shared it with them. They can download their own copy of the guide (and grab the sanity saving free-swag) by going here.

Also, if you’re feeling like singing from the digital rooftops about this guide, by all means share the guide on Facebook, Twitter, email or the ever so fashionable passenger pigeon.

Thank you again for taking the time to read this beast of a guide and for allowing me the pleasure of helping you with your community.

Hugs and Skittles,
Diana
(That lady down there sitting on a massive chess board. Strategic AF!)

PS: If you DO apply something (or anything from this guide) and it helps your community, shoot me an email and let me know. I love hearing stories and seeing how this guide helps others better engage your community members. 🙂

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 14

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 14

Chapter 14 —

8 of my Engagement Techniques that I Personally Use in Client Communities.

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1. Find Your Minions

Ah yes my friends, it is time to rally your minions and get them to do things for you. Ok ok, I’m not saying to hired little yellow dudes and have them work in your community for you (though that would be nice) but what I AM saying is to ask some of your members to do things for you.

This might take the form of writing up a post-mortem after a launch to share with other members, tagging someone on a post to get them to share their insights, or even asking people to welcome new students into the community.

The key is to position your ask as a favour and also because they have done things that you appreciate or are proud of.

2. The ‘24hr Hold Up’ Technique

Picture it. Someone posts a juicy question in the community and 5 minutes later you are armed and dangerous with a reply.

You’re about to click post when you slap yourself and say “24 hours dude”.

That’s right. Before you jump in and reply, think about how this person might get the best value and insights from the community as a whole. Whenever an admin or community manager dives in and answers a Q it can lead to other people keeping their opinions and advice to themselves.

So rather than post right away. Leave it for a day, so others can dive in.

If you want to demonstrate that you’ve seen the post you could reply and let them know that you want to see what others think first. You could also tag in a couple of members that you know could share some great insights.

3. The ‘Tagging Train’ (choo-choo!) Technique

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From time to time you’ll have something that you want everyone to see. Perhaps it’s a survey, a big announcement etc.

Rather than posting it and hoping that people see it, I recommend calling on the “Tagging Train” technique to get the message out there.

It’s simple and once it gets momentum can be super effective.

What you do is simply get people to do the action you want (like fill out a survey) and then come back to the thread to say that they have done it AND get them to tag 1-3 other people that they know so that they can do it as well.

Not only does this keep the thread higher in the Facebook feed from all the updated comments, it helps spread the word. It’s similar to the idea of paying it forward, which spreads the message like wildfire.

4. The ‘Circle Back’ Technique

You want to check in with your students to ensure they are on track, and students want to feel like you give a shit about them. That is why I recommend using the circle back technique whenever I check in with someone.

If they are working on writing a guest post I ask them to circle back with me in X amount of time to let me know how it’s going. You can even get them to add it to their calendar so they don’t forget.

5. “More than words” Technique (Memes, GIFs, photos, video)

If you want to really create a unique and personal feel in your community I highly recommend mixing in original media.

There is nothing like saying you’re welcome with your own “You’re Welcome GIF” or reaching out to a student to see how they are doing with a funny MEME.

I personally like to use silly kitten and puppy memes…I mean, who doesn’t like a puppy or a kitten?

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Adding videos of yourself to posts can make it feel like you’re more present in the community as well.

6. The ‘Can You Do Me a Favour?’ Technique.

Once you have build a bit of a relationship with your members, there is nothing like asking them to do you a favour to make them feel important and useful.

Imagine you ask a student to post about an experience they had because so many other students struggle with that issue and you feel it would help the community. Asking for small favours like this go a long way to making members feel important and useful.

7. The ‘Just Checking In’ Technique

Being able to check in with your members individually via PM is super important. It shows that you care about them AND it allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of the community. You can see how they’re feeling, what they’re working on, if they are struggling and how you can do a better job to help them and improve the course.

It’s a win-win all around and when you have a system to reach out that allows you to do it quickly and easily (I reach out to 50 members a day/ 250 members a week) it means that your members will feel taken care of and be less likely to fall off the wagon.

8. The “Tag in the Troops” Technique.

When reviewing your community you might find questions that haven’t been answered or possibly the answers they have received so far leave a lot to be desired.

Rather than jumping in and answering yourself, Tag in the troops. This is when you can tag in other members who specialise in something or you know have personal experience with a situation. This not only allows you to help the person asking the question, it makes the tagged troops feel special as well because you thought of them.

On to the next chapter

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 13

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 13

Chapter 13 —

How to KNOW if What You’re Doing is Actually Making an Impact.

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Fuck me this is the bane of my existence right here folks. I mean, any community manager will tell you that the #1 issue they have is trying to demonstrate their value or worth to their employer.

You see, the issue with community is that it isn’t as easy to measure as sales figures, subscribers, etc. We’re talking about behaviours, humans, emotions and all that jazz.

So how the fuck do you know if what you’re doing is even working?

What I’ve learnt to do is lean into the frustration and focus on what we CAN measure. Lucky for you, there are a lot of different ways to gather data on communities now. Let’s take a lookie-loo at a couple.

Facebook analytics (free)

Like I touched on earlier, Facebook is catching on to the power of Facebook Groups and is making it a hell of a lot easier for admins and community managers to know what the frig is going on in there.

They’ve added the ability to schedule posts in advanced; though at this time they have NOT made it possible to post the same post every Tuesday.

Come on dudes…I want a little checkbox that says “repeat weekly”. Make my Christmas wish come true santa baby!

PS: I know you’re real!

They’ve also added analytics as well, which shows you a good number of things about what your people are doing and how they are doing it. The only shit sandwich that I smell here is that the data is only a months worth.

Yuuup. That’s right folks. 30 days. WTF? How are you supposed to see longer term patterns of your group if…well…there’s no long term data.

This is why I still used good old Grytics for all my community data needs.

Grytics (Free and paid)

Gyrtics.com is the best Facebook group analytics tool that I’ve personally used and it makes many of my tasks a whole hell of a lot easier.

For example: I like to create a weekly round-up post and pin it to the top of the Accelerator community each Friday. This allows our students to avoid the scrolling pit of doom and simply enjoy a buffet of hyperlinks to posts they might find interesting. If not…simply back to work. Time and sanity saved! YAY!

The problem is that for me to do this I used to have to sacrifice my own time and sanity scrolling to find the posts, but thanks to Grytics it now takes me around 5 minutes to create the post.

Simply go into Grytics and click on the “Posts and Comments” list. Then organize the list by “date created”. Then simply review the posts and grab links to the posts that will be the most interesting and useful for your group.

Before Grytics, it used to take me at least 30 minutes to do this because I had to scroll through the community. These posts get scattered in the news feed pretty quickly (depending on what members are commenting on) so this makes everyone happy.

Is Grytics perfect?

Nope. But it’s pretty darn close. The only thing that I’ve come across so far is that I wish that all the excel sheets that are generated would include a hyperlink to the student’s FB account. This makes it much easier to reach out to students.

Why do you NEED this data?

You need data so that you can see what affect your actions have on your community. This is where you can see what is and isn’t working and adjust your actions accordingly. The last thing you want to do is start doing lots of different things and not actually know which is making an impact.

For example. Imagine you start doing a weekly round up post, adding in a Facebook Live Q&A weekly and start posting encouragement in the comments regularly. Those are 3 different things that could or could not be making an impact.

Imagine you look at your data and you see a massive jump in engagement since starting these 3 tactics. Great right? Sort of.

How do you know which of these actions is actually making a difference?

What if the Facebook live is the true reason why people are engaging but they don’t really care if you comment on their posts or create that weekly roundup post? Essentially you could stop doing those two other tasks and STILL have higher engagement.

That’s why we track everything, and assign metrics to each tactics so we can assess each tactic individually. If it’s working great. If it isn’t cut it!

There are some other cool things that you can do with Grytics that are worth mentioning.

#1 Learn the best time to post your weekly themed posts.

With Grytics you can see when your students are most active in the Facebook community. Why is this important? This is when you should be posting anything that you want to get a lot of eyeballs on. Like that weekly roundup post. If the majority of people pop into Facebook at 7pm on a Friday. It wouldn’t make sense to post earlier in the day or later in the evening.

#2 Do personal outreach to ‘lurkers” to check in and see how they’re doing.

Everyone wants to feel important, and there is nothing like getting a personal message from YOU to make that happen. Reaching out to people that haven’t posted, commented or engaged in the community can be a great way to tip them over the edge to get involved.

#3 Create a “top” board to trigger the competitive side of your members

Maybe your members are competitive and want to be special. In Grytics you can actually create a members leader board that shows the most engaged members. You could post this monthly on a special thread to see who is in the lead…and who is new on the leaderboard.

#4 Beware the time sucking black hole of vanity metrics and “fun” data.

While Grytics is awesome and provides you with so much information on your users, don’t get sucked into the black hole of vanity metrics. You’ll see lots of different numbers, and figures in Grytics and it might look fancy to have all these graphs and charts but you really need to put your blinders on and focus on what matters to you and your team.

On to the next chapter

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 12

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 12

Chapter 12 —

How to use live coaching to ensure your members complete your course and get massive results worth bragging about.

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Here’s the scoop.

So many people dream about creating an evergreen course and having a super engaged community paired with it so that their students will help each other and leave you laying feet up on a beach somewhere.

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This isn’t really reality though. For one you’d be bored as fuck after a week or two, and you want the best for your students, so I’m pretty sure you’re not going to toss some evergreen content at them and hope for the best.

If you’re like me, you actually want your students to get results, to finish your courses and become your star students, create compelling testimonials and become raving fans. The best way to do this is to provide live coaching in combination with your course community.

Why this works?

Well, it’s comes down to human nature. We like to be part of the pack, a tribe, a family of people and when we are cut off from that pack…we don’t thrive. The same applies to online courses.

Having “life time access” is positioned as a benefit, and being able to do it at our own pace is as well, when in reality the best thing for us is to work on it TOGETHER with others. To form a bond or connection with other people as you’re doing something.

This also applies to students connecting with you. If you are there for them, demonstrating that you care, answering their questions and giving them a nudge when they need it, they’ll feel it, appreciate it and share that fact with the world.

Ways you can provide live coaching.

There are several ways you can provide a live coaching aspect to your programs and here are a couple of the easiest ways to do it.

Facebook Live Q&As

This is probably one of the easiest ways to add value to your students, directly into your Facebook community. You simply choose a day of the week and time that you’ll hop on a FB live, and answer questions that your students are having that week with the course material.

Top tip: Use Google Forms or create a special thread in the community to collect questions from your students in advance. This will allow you to avoid any awkward silence on the live and it allows you to prepare a bit in advance.

Webinars (Zoom for example).

This is another great option for live coaching calls. You can sign up for a free Zoom.us account and get started in minutes. If you stick with the free account you will have a 45 min maximum to your calls, but that’s still a good length for a call. You could even offer 2 calls a week if you feel that it’s not enough time. (Or you could simply shell out the cash for the paid account and do a full hour…you penny pincher!) Zoom also allows you to record the calls and download the chat as well.

Office Hours threads or channels for set times.

This is another way to provide value directly in the Facebook community, where you invite students to post their questions as comments on a special thread. You could post the thread at the same time on the same day, every week and allow students to post questions for a set period of time.

Then simply circle back and answer the questions. You could write your replies OR you could be a badass and do video responses using www.usingloom.com. THE best screen sharing, video hosting app out there. I adore them.

How to structure your live coaching sessions

Once you choose one of the formats above, it’s time to think about how to structure the session itself. Here are some tips that I’ve learnt from my own trial and error.

  • Think about what you want your students to walk away FEELING. Do you want them to feel supported and encouraged, to get a tactical answer, or to simple find out what their next steps should be in the course?
  • Kick off your call with something fun to break the ice. If you are on Zoom you can wave to specific people and quickly say hi, if it’s a Facebook Live you could show everyone where you are or give them a sneak peak of your workspace.
  • Decide how many questions you’re going to answers. Are you going to only look at 5 but do a deep dive into each one? Or are you going to address 10 or 15 and help as many people as possible?
  • Wrap up the session with a call to action. If you’re on a zoom call maybe encourage your members to jump into the community and share their takeaways on the thread for the video. If you run a Slack group you can tell students to dive into a specific channel and share their #1 take away as well.

How to tailor the sessions to exactly what your members need and want.

We touched on this a little above but basically this is simply ASKING them what they want and need. It’s not rocket science here, it’s simply going to the source and allowing them to tell you what they want and need.

That being said though, sometimes people LIE. *Gasp!*

YES…it’s true. Your students might be fucking liars.

They will tell you something that sounds nice or what they think you want to hear but they’ll hold back that deep dark secret pain or doubt that they would really like to have answered.

Why? Cause it’s embarrassing dude, or they might look stupid or a whole slew of other mental BS that pops up.

So that’s why I recommend asking, gathering questions and then sprinkling in a bit of “ medicine”. What do I mean by medicine?

In the words of Buckleys Cough Medicine, “It tastes awful and it works”. When you have a cough you take something for it, and if a student has a problem (that you can see or feel is truly the issue) give them a dose of what’s good for them.

For example…someone might come to me and ask how do I engage my community. I’ve got daily posts all set up and content pre-written for a year. Why am I hearing crickets?

They might be wanting more tactics but the real issue is they aren’t digging deeper to find out the emotional needs of their audience. So that’s when I might zoom out and focus on better understanding their audience manually…then trying to jump into automation.

Not sexy, but it engages. 😉

On to the next chapter

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 11

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 11

Chapter 11 —

How to Protect Your Community From Self-Promotional Drama and Foster Quality Conversations and Relationships.

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Alrighty folks, now we’re getting to the good shit…well actually it’s bad shit when it’s in your community, but boy is this chapter going to help you clean up shop, or better yet keep things clean to begin with.

If you happen to run a free Facebook group this is going to be WAY worse for you my friend. Sorry to say it but a huge portion of your members are simply there to do customer research, find clients and basically hang out in there like a leech. Sucking all the blood they can get.

In a course community self-promotion is still a thing though. Some people just see any community as “fair game” or their are quasi-delusional and believe what they are doing is alright.

The first thing you need to do, to arm yourself against this bullshit is make it super clear what is and isn’t ok and what your expectations are of your members. Thats right folks…we are talking guidelines. I know…super sexy right.

What to include in your guidelines.

A lot of people get stuck on this. What the hell should I put in my guidelines? Should I be a hard ass or be a supportive friend? These are all valid questions that you need to answer with your personality and business in mind.

For example, if you are a super friendly and fun person BUT you don’t want people to do a couple things…be friendly and fun throughout your guidelines but drop the hammer with some super clear and strong do’s and don’ts.

So in terms of specifics here are the basics that you will probably want to get in writing. It’s easier to call someone out down the line when you have things in writing. That way you can reference it when you call someone out.

  1. The purpose/mission of your group. What’s the point of your group? What is everyone there to do? What is everyone working towards? This is going to be super easy since everyone will be taking one course and looking to gain the benefit of that course.
  2. How can members take advantage of the group and get the most from it?
  3. Posting guidelines.  When someone posts what do they need to include? This might be having a specific title, like we do in Accelerator. For example [ZTL – M2- I’m not sure if I should build my website yet].  Notice what happens when someone reads that title. We know a lot about the student without reading anything else. We know they are taking the ZTL course, that they are in Module 2 and their issue is clear as well. It makes it so much easier to reply and it also allows other members to know if they can offer insights here or simply keep scrolling.
    1. Specifically tell people what is NOT allowed. I know we want to be positive all the time but laying down the rules is something that you need to do.
      If you don’t want people posting links to their websites…say that.
    2. If you don’t want people PMing members and promoting themselves…say that.
    3. If you don’t want people to post videos…say that.
  4. There are going to be situations when you need to delete a post, yes dude…that is going to happen.  So be clear on what those situations are and mention it upfront. That way you can simply delete it without having to give an explanation (saving you time and sanity points).

What to avoid.

One thing I wanted to mention on the flip side of things is to be aware of being TOO negative. Having a NO list might feel great to you but it might not have the same effect on your members.

Here’s the thing though…I would much rather you were a bit too heavy on the no side, than to be to permissive. You see, guidelines can change dude. If you feel like you should ease up down the line…then go for it.

You’re the boss.

How should you present or deliver the guidelines?

There are many ways and formats to present your guidelines and I’m gonna outline the most common options. This way you can choose one option or do all 4!

Google Doc

Ah yes. Good old Google doc! This is by far the simplest, easiest version of guidelines. Simply write up your guidelines in a Google doc, change the share settings to allow people to view it, and share a link in the community..

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Pinned post

Another option is to create a post in your Facebook group (writing out all the guidelines and possibly including an image) and then pinning that post to the top of the group’s wall. You can also share a link to the Google Doc in the pinned post. 😉

Email

You can also write up your guidelines in an email that you send out when members first join your course. You can simply add a link to the Google doc in one of your onboarding emails. This is a great option as it puts it in their inbox and makes the excuse of “I didn’t see it” less likely.

As a part of an Ultimate Guide to getting the most from your community.

This is something that I did recently for IWT’s Accelerator program. I received a lot of the same questions, over and over again and rather than simply answering them over and over again, I wrote an ultimate guide that students can search to find answers to pretty much ANY question they might have about how the program works.

Take a page from the book of Jayson Gaignard. ASK, PRAISE, GIVE.

Jayson Gaignard runs Mastermind Talks (MMT), is the author of Mastermind Dinners and launched his own podcast, Community Made in 2017.

MMT is a invite-only $10k weekend retreat and community for entrepreneurs, with a lower acceptance rate than Harvard. Talk about awesome!

Anyhoo, he was hiring a Content and Community Manager in mid 2017 and a couple of my friends thought I’d be a great fit. It was funny as I knew the job wasn’t for me (it’s a full time position and I wasn’t available for full time) but I wanted to connect with Jayson and offer any help or insights I could (he’s a really lovely person and I love what he’s doing).

Fun fact: I made it to round three for a live interview call!

It was lovely to get to know Jayson and I was able to help him with his Facebook group for MMT alumni. That is when I first saw his approach to posting guidelines.

His guidelines are simple yet powerful.

RULES: We want this group to be of value to everyone. This community runs under the ASK, GIVE and PRAISE model.

ASK = You’re asking for something (advice, feedback, an intro)
GIVE = You’re giving something (conference tickets, expertise, etc…),
PRAISE = You’re praising a member in the community for going above and beyond.

I adore this approach to posting. It’s so simple, yet sets the tone for his community. It’s not a place to take, it’s a place to give, get help and make other people feel great.

When I reached out to him to make sure it was ok to share this approach in this guide he sent me an audio note and shared the power of this approach, which I wanted to share with you as well.

“The method ASK, GIVE and PRAISE has worked exceptionally well for us, because it helps us steer clear…it’s a pretty clear line in the sand as far as avoiding people soliciting or people talking about themselves. Like, “Oh I just came out with this blog post” or those kinds of things, self-promotion. So it’s work really well.” – Jayson Gaignard

Now I’m not saying that you need to start using ASK, GIVE, PRAISE, but how might you take this idea and apply it to your own business?

What is it you want your people to do? ASK, SHARE, WIN, SUPPORT, CONFESS, etc.

How to enforce your guidelines without being a dick or making people scared to post and participate.

Oooo doggie…now we are talking. You’ve got guidelines and you’re itching to enforce them.

Oh wait…what? You aren’t excited about the enforcement part? You’re actually terrified and want to just crawl back into your comfort zone like a snugglie cocoon?

I get it dude.

You don’t wanna be the bad guy. You just want to have fun and support people. Well I can tell you here and now that if you don’t enforce your guidelines you’re actually doing your people a disservice.

Imagine that you are one of your members that follows the guidelines by the book. And then sees some douchebag promoting themselves and you not doing anything.

How does that makes them feel? Probably a couple ways. Annoyed that someone else isn’t following the rules and pissed off that YOU aren’t stopping it. OR maybe they think that that person has some sort of agreement with you…when they DON’T!

So here’s the deal. Once you create the guidelines…they apply to everyone across the board. No exceptions please. Be consistent.

Now. What are you actually supposed to DO when shit happens?

Picture it. You log into your Facebook to check on the community (during your allotted time no more no less.. remember) and you see it.

A post that seems to be “helping” others but there is a link out to their latest article (on the same subject), or maybe it’s their new website that they are so excited to share, or maybe they are bold enough to post a link to their sales page for a “review”.

Ok…breath. Let the “WTF” thoughts wash over you and be with those feelings.

You might be thinking something along the lines of,

“What the literal fuck does he think he’s doing? Didn’t I make myself clear…no freaking links in your posts dude. It’s just not ok. No one else is doing it. And here you come linking it up. Arrrggg. I don’t want other people to see it and think that it’s ok. Shit. MORE people will probably start doing the same. WHAT SHOULD I DO?”

Great question.

What SHOULD you do?

Let’s do a quiz. Which option would YOU choose?

  1. Leave it up there. You don’t want to hurt his feelings.
  2. Delete it and act like nothing happened. You’re the admin…only you and that douche will know and he knows what the guidelines are.
  3. Copy the text of the post and shoot him a PM explaining that you removed the post (as it doesn’t follow the guidelines for the group)..
  4. Do nothing but assume the fetal position below your desk. Why can’t people read? Why in God’s name did I think a community would be a good thing? FML!!!
  • Ok…so obviously A is out. Come on princess. You won’t hurt his feelings.
  • D is out as well, and I’d suggest meditation or something to relax dude…this isn’t really that big a deal.
  • B and C…well actually those are two great options and you get to choose which works best for you.

If you simply want to delete a post…go for it. Make sure that this kinds of response is mentioned in your guidelines though.

Something like: Any posts that break these guidelines will be removed.

Now, some people will message you and ask what happened, like they didn’t know, and you can simply say that it broke the community guidelines and then link to them.

Sometimes people don’t realize what they are doing though. It’s like they get hypnotized and just start doing weird shit without even realizing it’s self-promotional. That’s why I recommend simply saying that their post broke the guidelines.

Now C is another option (the one that I take personally) and it’s the same as B but there is one step added. You copy the text of the post and then shoot them a PM. Explain that their recent post didn’t follow the guidelines and that it has been removed but that you copied the text for them. Paste the text in the message and send.

To delete or not to delete?; how to handle posts that break your guidelines.

There is another option for handling posts that break your guidelines, and I like to call this the “call them out publicly” technique. It’s just like it sounds. So if someone posts something that isn’t appropriate or does not follow specific posting guidelines you simply leave a comment on their post letting them know and asking them to update the post to correct it.

Note: This doesn’t apply to self-promotional posts. In those cases I delete the posts (with or without notification).

Again, I know this might sound harsh or not fun at all, but it’s an important part of building and protecting the integrity of your community. It’s not sexy, and no one talks about it publicly (until now) but it needs to be done.

Plus, on the bright side, the more consistently you do this from the beginning the LESS it happens. That’s right. People aren’t stupid. They learn from what you do and also what others in the community do.

On to the next chapter

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 10

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 10

Chapter 10 —

Why and When “Auto Posting” Tools Can Be the Kiss of Death for a Community.

Back to table of contents

Alright you lazy bastards, let’s talk about auto posting.

I know you want to do it. It sounds so awesome, right?. Just create a poop load of posts with cool images for different days of the week with some sort of rhyming alliteration and BOOM your community is going to magically “engage” like gangbusters.

Or, like Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise. You’ll just tap the “auto posting” badge on your chest and beam your members into engagement.

1ynpow

Seriously? You honestly think it works like that?

Bitch please.

How most people screw this up and find themselves with a wall of pretty posts that NO ONE reacts to.

I’ve seen the digital wasteland that is an online community based on auto posts. You know what that shit looks like?

It looks like a room where the only person talking is you…while everyone is sitting around the sidelines thinking…what the fuck am I doing here?

Those posts start to fill up the group and all you see are a couple likes here and there. It’s depressing as fuck, so please don’t do it.

As a rule, you shouldn’t even be thinking about auto posting tools until you’ve gotten the ball rolling. You need to know what your students need from you, so that you can “set THAT and forget it”.

Once you know what your students need and want from you, THEN you can dip your toe in the auto posting tool pond.

Which tools have I used and which do I recommend?

Don’t get me wrong though, auto posting tools can be amazing, when done intentionally. If you just set up 5 theme days and walk away…you’re gonna to be disappointed.

When you DO know what your peeps want, and your community is bumpin’ with activity, here is how I would approach automation.

What I recommend is choosing 3 auto posts a week, based off of what your students need from you.

Plan out the copy, and image for each of those posts and keep them in a folder in your Google Drive. Now how can you auto post these bad boys?

Is MeetEdgar worth the higher monthly cost?

Oh Edgar, how I adore thee.

If you’re looking for a way to auto post in your community AND distribute your content through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, then Edgar is your digital dude, www.meetedgar.com.

It’s like hiring a content manager but without the hefty paycheck (only $50 a month).

Not only can you use Edgar to post your daily theme posts in your community automatically, but you can also create libraries of your content that get “recycled” and re-posted on your Facebook, twitter or linkedin on a schedule that you decide. This is pretty fantastic since promoting your content over and over is a huge win!

I also love Edgar because their customer service is beyond amazing. I had an issue once when one a daily thread didn’t auto post and I got a response and instructions on how to fix the issue in less than an hour.

Not only that, their customer service reps are super lovely. Check out the email exchange we had below after they were super helpful solving an issue.

Screen Shot 2017 11 02 at 08 40 36

A GIFT! I got socks people.

Yes my friends…Edgar socks with little Edgar Octopus’ on them. SO COOL!

If you don’t want to go all in on automation though, with Meet Edgar, then you can simply take a baby step into automation, with Facebook itself and the pre-scheduling feature.

This feature came out in the summer of 2017 and it’s pretty good for what it does! Rather than having to post at certain times 3 times a week, I can sit down on Friday and pre schedule the week to come.

Screen Shot 2017 11 02 at 08 44 33

Boy is this a sweet step up…and it’s FREE dudes. So if you’d like a taste of automation without the price tag, then start here. Like I said, I batch my auto posts on one day a week and it works nicely.

Not only that…people don’t KNOW that you scheduled it, unlike with meetEdgar where in the time/day of the post it says meet Edgar posted it.

How else is Facebook upping their group management game?

Thankfully Facebook has started to take group management to the next level (yay) and some of their new features really make life much easier.

The first feature I already mentioned above, being able to schedule posts.

Another cool feature is being able to ask members up to 3 questions before they join the group. This is super insightful for you as a course builder as you could ask your students what they hope to get out of the program or why the joined, and then when you do interviews with students after they complete the program you could compare their results with their goals.

This also makes it easier to collect compelling testimonials from your students as well because you get access to a before situation to compare to how they are after taking your course.

Facebook has also rolled out insights, which shows you different metrics (numbers) on the engagement and activity of your students. These numbers are pretty simple though and are only for the last 3 month (which is why I still use Grytics for all my Facebook analytics needs).

On to the next chapter

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 9

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 9

Chapter 9 —

Is Your Community Platform Cock Blocking Engagement? (Slack and Facebook Specific).

Are your members actually SEEING what you’re doing (thanks FB algorithms)?

Back to table of contents

Alright rockstar, you’ve set up a Facebook group for your course and you’ve figured out what emotions your students want and need to feel there, so you get to work implementing tactics specifically crafted to trigger those emotions.

You’re on a roll and busting out “engaging” posts like bat out of hell. All is good in the world until…well…it isn’t.

You start to notice that your posts aren’t getting a response. No comments, no likes (or only a couple pity likes here and there).

WTF?

Why aren’t people eating up your engagement efforts?

Well, it’s hard to engage with something that you don’t see. That’s right. You could be doing everything right, but if you’re doing it in an empty room it’s going to be difficult to make an impact.

You see, Facebook is a business and paid reach is one of its green makers. Think about it. Facebook knows how important exposure and reach is to online marketers, so why not ask for a bit of green in return for the privilege.

I’ve run into this situation as well in terms of sending messages to students. There is nothing more frustrating that having your PMs go to some “other” or filtered inbox because you’re not “friends” on Facebook.

I used to send messages to students and cross all my extremities hoping that they would get the message. Many of them didn’t.

That’s why I came up with the following technique to ensure that members actually get my messages. “No messages left behind”! I mentioned it earlier but I wanted to go into more detail here.

Here’s what I do.

I created a thread in the group explaining the situation. Here is the text (which I combined with a fun meme).

[Banishing Missed messages…forever!]

Hey Hey,

As you know we are always looking out for you and want to do everything we can to ensure that you take full advantage of [Course/Community Name].

So in an effort to ensure that everyone makes the most of it and gets the results they’ve been dreaming about, I have been reaching out one by one to check in on ya’ll via private message.

If we’ve connected already, awesome. Back to work!

If we haven’t, check your inbox and filtered inbox just incase a sad kitten MEME is there asking if you are ignoring me (true story).

If there isn’t a message yet, it’s a question of WHEN not IF. Please also know that it is not a bot that is messaging you…it is me. Human Diana.

From here on in, if anyone doesn’t reply to my sad cat MEME *GASP*, I’ll come tag you here…that way I can be sure you don’t miss my messages.

I hope you are all having a fantastic day.

Cheers to you!

Diana

MEME

Next, as I reach out to students and I keep track of who actually replies or not. If someone doesn’t reply…I circle back to this post and tag them in the comments.

[Student name], you’ve got mail. Please check your inbox or “filtered” inbox.

Doing this allows you to send a notification to the student (by tagging them), so that if they are active on Facebook, they will see it.

Is your audience already on and comfortable with your platform of choice?

Here’s the thing though.

Not everyone loves Facebook or is FB savvy. Some students will join Facebook simply to be a part of your community. If that is the case, you can bet your booty that they are going to be a be clueless when it comes to interacting in the community, using tags, replies etc.

Ensuring that your members are comfortable with your platform of choice will allow your members to focus on connecting with one another and working towards their shared goals, rather than getting stuck in the tech weeds.

Are you assuming they know more than they actually do?  What’s a pinned post Diana?

Here’s the deal. You’ll never really KNOW if people understand Facebook or Slack or whatever platform you went with, so it’s best to assume they don’t know shit. Not in your day to day interactions – cause that would be kind of rude – but when kicking things off…hell yes.

So what can you do to help your peeps learn the ropes? You need to anticipate their FAQs and answer them BEFORE they even step foot in your community.

How to create savvy “how to” videos, write ups or a guide to help your members navigate the platform and focus on the course work and connecting with others.

There are many ways that you can approach this and I’d like to share what has worked best in the communities I manage.

In Slack I recommend creating a how-to-slack channel where you can create a selection of bite sized videos that demonstrate how to use Slack easily and efficiently.

You can explain how threaded replies work, how to post a photo, how to bold or italics your writing or simply how to add an emoticon reaction. Bonus points go to those of you who create these videos BEFORE ushering in your members.

In Facebook I would recommend creating a “how to Facebook thread”…there you can curate a collection of how to videos and explanations all in one place.

You can post a comment for each doubt or question that you anticipate happening, and also add new ones as people come to you with additional questions like, “what’s a pinned post?”.

If you’d like a quick and easy way to create, host and share videos of yourself or your desktop then look no further than www.useloom.com.  This tool is by far one of the COOLEST tools I’ve ever found and boy does it save you time and make the community experience for your students hella good.

Just imagine, someone has a question and you A it with a video responce…but that video responce took you literally 7 minutes to record, upload and share in the community via a reply to their question thread.

Your members feel super special and you actually save time! Talk about a win-win!

This might feel like an unnecessary step, when first setting up your community, but it really isn’t. It’s part of the foundation for creating a safe space on the noisy internet for your peeps.

When working with Tiffany Mclain, I got her to do the same in her online Slack community that we built for her course, “Lean in, Make BANK”.

Screen Shot 2017 11 08 at 08 25 57

Here is what she thought of the process before launching her program, after launching it the first time and now her 2nd launch.

Q1: What did you think about setting up your community before working with me? How did working with me help you with the process of launching for the first time?

I was nervous before setting up the community. I’d heard plenty of horror stories about how communities could go very wrong – things like, the community becoming a time suck, student drama, massive disorganization or, simply being a waste of time and energy and failing to add REAL value.

Working with Diana was incredible! She had such clear steps for the before, during and after, that incorporated not only strategic advice (which I CRAVE), but she also took into account the fears and anxieties that come with setting up a community. Addressing the mindset AND the strategy long before I began helped me actually set up a community that had a huge impact on the success of my course.

Q2: How did it go when you launched your first program in terms of engaging your peeps? Where there any specific times when I was able to help you when you were stuck?

My students were intimidated by the structure initially. They are not a tech savvy group, so diving into Slack was certainly out of their comfort zone. Fortunately, Diana’s instructions around setting up personal video tutorials, providing clear guidelines and gently correcting the students in the early phases really panned out in terms of allowing the students to get more comfortable and really utilise the community to facilitate growth.

As a secret plant in the community, Diana was able to highlight potential issues to troubleshoot before they became a problem. She also offered suggestions as the course unfolded that would make it even better the second time around, based on the feedback and behaviour of the students in the group. Her help was invaluable.

Q3: How did you find engaging your community now, following your 2nd launch and without much help from me?

WOW! Where to begin. The engagement was off the charts! After I gained the initial skills and structure, we were off to the races. The students were epically engaged, even talking about starting books groups, meeting up in *person* (even though I had students from all over the world), creating outside groups to ensure continued community even after the course was over.

It was incredibly helpful to have a clear structure, very clear guidelines and my OWN support when beginning this process. Now I feel empowered to scale the process, confident that the community will not be a burden, but rather a powerful part of the student’s learning process.

On to the next chapter

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 8

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 8

Chapter 8 —

How much time each week do you realistically have/need to drive engagement?

Back to table of contents

Now, initially when writing this chapter I wasn’t going to give you a number. That’s right. I was convinced that it was 100% based on what time you have available to you. But…that’s not totally true.

There is a minimum that you (or someone official) need to invest in your community and here it is.

30 minutes a day, Monday-Friday.

That’s the bare minimum folks, but it’s not set in stone. When you are first establishing your community the key is to maintain your guidelines consistently so that your members learn the ropes.

This October I helped IWT manage their Slack community for their live event Forefront, in Chicago.  I wasn’t involved in creating the group so I had to work with the channels I was given BUT I did know one thing…we had to establish the guidelines BEFORE the live event…when 500 attendees would be swarming Slack, looking for opportunities to meet up before, during and after the event.

In 2016 I remember the Slack community and it was a bit of a shit-show. Slack hadn’t introduced threaded replies at that point and it was really hard to keep track of conversations and set up meet ups.

I didn’t want the same to happen this year so I went on a mission to establish only 2 rules.

  • Use threaded replies to keep the conversations in one place.
  • Use a posting template for arranging meetups.
    • [WHAT IT IS] – [WHEN] – [WHERE]

Rather than having a sea of “who wants to grab lunch?” posts, there were detailed posts that were easy to scroll through.

As people started using the community I would pop in and check on things. If someone didn’t use threaded replies or the template I PMed them to ask them to update it but also explained why it was beneficial to them and the community.

Screen Shot 2017 11 02 at 08 20 45

I set the expectations BEFORE the event kicked off so that we could “set it and forget it”.

Now of course, during Forefront I wasn’t going to have time to be “in” the Accelerator community for almost 5 days. So what happened once Forefront kicked off?

First of all…I only checked in on the Accelerator community twice. Yup. That’s right. Two times in just under a week.

  • Did all hell break loose? No.
  • Did everyone start promoting their shit. No.
  • Did the community “die”? No.

That’s the thing. When you establish the guidelines right off the bat and hold people to them consistently, you set the tone and foundation of the community so that you can step away from it without it going into cardiac arrest.

As for the Forefront Slack community, people could see that the templates and threaded replies made it easier and so each channel transformed into a buffet of meetup events.

Discover your “happy hours”.

Whenever faced with the question, “how much should I charge?” I’m always drawn to Michael Ellsberg’s fantastic article: “Your ‘Happy Price’ vs. Your ‘Sad Price’: How To Charge An Amount That Motivates You”.

In this article Michael walks us through a process for discovering what price point is the “sweet spot” for us emotionally, taking us from sad to happy, and I invite you to do the same for the time invested in your community.

I’ve already told you that you’ll need to spend at least 30 minutes a day (mon-fri) in your community, but what are you going to do long term? Are you going to dedicate more time?

In Michael’s article he focuses on price, but I’m going to change up the language a bit to make it apply to the hours spent in your community, and we want happy hours…cheers to that.

Imagine you ask me how much time it’s going to take to manage your community and I say;

“Hey dude, your course community is going to take you 20 hours a week to manage.”

Would you be happy, or sad, about that?

If you’d be sad (or doing an ugly cry) change the number. What about 10…5hrs?

Keep asking yourself this question until you find a number that makes you feel happy. THAT is your “happy hours” number. The number of hours that you would be happy to invest in your community without feeling overwhelmed or resentful.

I get it. You’ve got a lot of other things to do (content creation, customer service, guest posting etc). Community is only one piece of the puzzle, and finding how much time that piece takes is an important step to providing your students with an outstanding community.

How to create a schedule to implement your engagement strategy.

Now, this is important, so listen up so you don’t waste your time like I did.

When I first started managing communities, I was all over the place. I didn’t have a schedule, a strategy or a plan, I simply did what I thought our students needed and also what my consulting clients wanted me to do.

Don’t get me wrong, this worked for a while and did help me create amazing communities, but the part of the story that no one knew was how my life was falling apart.

I was always ON. I had Facebook on my phone and would always check in on the communities. While I was making dinner, while at the park with my son or even while we were all hanging out in the livingroom as a family.

There were no boundaries and these communities consumed my thoughts all the time. I loved these communities and the people in them, but it was seriously screwing up my marriage and my other relationships. Something had to give and I needed to set boundaries.

I don’t want the same to happen to you, and that’s why I’m writing this guide. It’s SO important to establish guidelines not only for your students but for YOU, so that you don’t end up a slave to your community.

The ONE thing that I did that changed everything was add ALL my community tasks into my Google Calendar. That way I could see where my time SHOULD be going and this also gave me permission to clock out.

Before doing this I would end up working about 8-10 hours days. Which is bonkers. I wasn’t supposed to be working that much but I couldn’t help it. I love the community members I work with (just like you love your students) and I wanted to be there for them…even if it meant sacrificing my relationships, my sleep and ultimately my life.

So here is what I’d recommend doing.

Write a list of everything that you’d like to do in your community. Perhaps that includes PMing all new students, answering questions in the community, showing appreciation for students that help others, highlighting wins from different students etc.

From that list, you’d divide up your time depending on which tactics you believe will have the most impact for your students.

For example:

If you have 5 hours a week to work in your community, you might divide things up like this.

  • (2.5hrs) 30 minutes a day – Mon-Fri – PMing with new and existing students to ensure they are moving forward.
  • (2.5hrs) 30 minutes a day – Mon-Fri – Answering questions, replying to tags and comments in the community..

That’s it. It sounds simple, but by creating a plan for yourself you can be consistent. This allows you to draw a line for yourself AND it also establishes expectations for your students.

Not sure what tasks are involved in managing a community?  Grab this list that I wrote up for you. It lists ALL the things that I have ever done for a community so you can get a better idea of everything that could come up, that no one talks about.

BONUS MATERIAL: Grab your copy of the community task list

I’ll also send you BOTH my ultimate guides (and bonus offer spreadsheets and systems) to help you engage the members in your online community.

On to the next chapter

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 7

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 7

Chapter 7 —

What’s YOUR role as the host in your community?

Back to table of contents

You might be wondering, now that you’re getting everything set up, what exactly is your role as the host of your community? What expectations should you have and what should your students expect of you?

Asking yourself these questions NOW will help you set the right expectations and avoid becoming the raccoon on crack that everyone thinks is required to run a community.

How active SHOULD you be in your group?

This is a great question, and I know you’re probably thinking more in terms of your time than anything else. In my previous guide we discuss how to set the right expectations in terms of the time you’ll be spending in your group.

Check it out here if you haven’t already. Don’t worry. I’ll wait here.

Done? Great.

Once you’ve got that number in mind, and a schedule actually mapped out for you (yes…put this into your Google calendar). You also need to ask yourself about response time.

Why waiting can actually boost engagement.

This might come as a shock to you, but you should NOT reply as quickly as possible when someone posts in your community. Yup…let that sink in for a moment. I am giving you permission to allow some space and time between replying or answering questions.

This also means that you’re allowed to wake up in the morning without whipping out your phone to check your community before you even roll over and kiss your loved one and wait for it…wait for it…you’re 100% allowed to take weekends off.

Why in the name of swiss cheese would I encourage you to back off and NOT jump right in?

Well, it all hinges on the point of having a community.

Let’s play multiple choice shall we. Finish the following sentence…

The point of a community is to create a safe space for your audience to…

A) Gain direct access to you and your brain 24/7.

B) Connect with like minded people on any given topic.

It’s B bitches. A isn’t a community. A is a premium product or coaching program which requires making it rain mucho dolla’bills.

Knowing that it’s B, you’ll realize that if you jump in all the time…you’re actually cock blocking connection in your community. That’s right. It’s like you’re trying to set up your two friends but you keep jumping in and finishing their sentences.

They are all close and cuddly on the couch kicking off a conversation and then you pop your head in between them to offer more wine.

Stop it! You’re killing the mood dude!

Remember what I was doing in the Accelerator welcome thread?

Originally I would reply to those videos as well…welcoming them in and commenting on their video, but I noticed that I was the only mofo commenting. When I implemented my full Community Strategy (that I created using FeverBee’s Strategic Community Management course) I saw that the time and effort I was using to comment on the welcome thread wasn’t the best use of my time…so I stopped.

Remember what happened when I did?

New students started commenting and connecting with each other! It was amazing. Instead of only getting one welcome comment from me, new students now get on average 4 comments from other students.

So remember, it’s not your job to be “on it” all the time. It’s your job to facilitate connections between your members.

Why your role will never include nagging your peeps into participating.

This is an interesting point that I wanted to cover as well. Some of you might be thinking that you’ll need to encourage engagement by nagging people and this all depends on your definition of nagging people.

I have been known to call students out if they do a drive by “like” when I’ve asked for specific feedback on a thread, and I’ll also invite students to participate if I believe they have something useful to share, “Hey Amanda, what’s your two cents on this?”, but I’m not going to flog a dead horse. If someone does not want to participate or engage, you can’t make them.

Look at it this way, it’s your job to create windows of opportunity. Someone might not feel comfortable diving in, but you show them that the water is fine. You can do this by tagging them on a post and asking them what they think, encouraging them to give more context or information when they do participate or you can reward them for their interactions by triggering an emotion that they value (pride, connection, helpful etc).

On to the next chapter

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 6

The Ultimate Guide to Engaging your Online Community Members – Chapter 6

Chapter 6 —

How to efficiently welcome new members in so they instantly relax and open up

Back to table of contents

Now, I know that some of you shit your pants when you read #5 from the list of “keys to onboarding” above. Specifically:.

#5: Private messaging with each member.

What the fuck Diana? You want me to reach out to each member of my course and welcome them in personally?

Yes dude…I do, and remember…I have a system to make it a hell of a lot easier than you might think. But before we dig into that let’s look at all the ways you can efficiently welcome in new members.

How to use a welcome thread like a badass host.

Ah yes…the welcome thread (in Facebook) or welcome channel (Slack). Having this in place BEFORE your students land in your community is vital. Creating a place for newbies to come and awkwardly say

“hi, I’m Diana Tower, I live here, I have these relationships, I like these hobbies and I just want someone to reply…saying something that makes me feel like I’m not a total loser.”

Being able to write an intro message is great, but recording a little video to introduce yourself or share a story is 100x better! It makes it so much easier for your students to connect with each other (not to mention with you) and if you can get a couple students to get the ball rolling then the bar will be set and others will follow suit. Especially if your students not only post videos but they take a moment to comment on the other videos as well.

Now let me ask you a quick question. What is the purpose or goal of the welcome thread? Seriously…what do you think?

It might seem like an obvious answer (to welcome people into the community) but there is another purpose that it serves.

Encouraging students to connect with EACH OTHER. That’s right. It’s like a mixer for your students. To break the ice and see who else invested in your course.

What is this thread or channel NOT for?

For you to transform into a raccoon on crack and start replying to everyone’s intros welcoming them in. If you’ve done this in the past, don’t worry…we all have. I remember I used to do this as well in Accelerator. It wasn’t a good look for me.

Funny thing was, I was sending a private message to each student and welcoming them in AND then replying to their intros on the welcome thread. It felt like double duty and so I stopped replying to intros on the welcome thread.

Do you know what happened? Students started replying to each others posts WAY more!

Rather than only having a reply from me, students started to get 2-5 comments from other students. It was amazing. So this is a perfect example of how you doing less can actually add more to your community.

The #1 way to make your members feel welcomed and special as soon as they arrive.

You might be thinking, if you’re not going to reply to the welcome thread, what the hell are you going to do? I mentioned sending welcome messages and this is my #1 recommendation. You, or your community manager, should reach out to each new student and welcome them personally into the community.

You might think that this will take you HOURS but once you create a system you can welcome or touch base with your members in small time blocks throughout the week.

Now here is a little secret. You don’t need to write each message from scratch, you can create a “template” that you can then personalize.

How to create your own template that doesn’t sound like a bot?

Simply imagine that you are going to hop on a call with the member and think about what you would say.

It might look something like this:

Welcome to [COURSE NAME] [STUDENT’S NAME]. It’s so great to have you with us. I’m excited to get to know you better and learn more about [REASON FOR JOINING PROGRAM]. I’d love to know why you joined and answer any questions you might have. Shoot me a message back and let me know.

Then make sure to save the template in a note file (in my case I use Trello to organize my tasks so I have a card with any message templates there).

Do this one thing (that most people don’t do) to give your members a white glove experience.

Ok, so you’ve been sending written messages to each of your students and the response has been pretty good, but what if I told you that you could take that experience and jack the “omg she gives a shit about me” feelings that your students feel?

The one thing that I do, and that you should do as well, is to send video welcome message to your new students. That’s right. Instead of writing out the message, simply sit down in front of your camera or phone and record a video message for them.

Now, if you have 5 students, I would personally record each message for each student. As Ramit Sethi says, “Do what doesn’t scale!”. This goes above and beyond for your students and will make them feel incredibly special.

Now, what happens if you have 100 members or 500? Are you going to record a new video for each member? No. No you’re not.

What you’re going to do is the same as the written message…you’re going to make a “template” that works for any new student. Yes this might sound less special, but you personalize it with the written message that you send WITH the video.

Here is a sample script that you could use when recording your video:

Hey there! Welcome to [COURSE NAME]. It’s so great to have you with us. I’m excited to get to know you better and learn more about [REASON FOR JOINING PROGRAM]. You might be feeling a bit nervous or overwhelmed but that’s ok. We’re all here to help. I’d love to know why you joined and answer any questions you might have. Shoot me a message back and let me know. Have a great day and welcome to [COURSE NAME].

Notice how no names were used? Notice also how it feels like you’re talking to ONE person? That’s exactly what you want to create when you record a video. That way, you can record it once and then send it out to your members, without having to create it over and over again. NOTE: There is a size limit for FB private messages so you’ll need to keep this short and sweet.

It’s a win-win! You get a systemized process for welcoming in your members that respects your time, while your students are blown away that you would take the time to personally welcome them.

Now you might be worried that someone will notice that the video isn’t “personalized”. Don’t worry. I’ll tell you how to handle that situation…as it’s happened to me.

I once had a student reply (in a super joking way) that he appreciated the “personal video”, even though it was obviously sent to everyone.

So what did I do?

Did I freak out and reply apologizing and admitting that it was a “generic” video? Hell no.

I grabbed my phone and recorded him a video reply. I playfully admitted that the first video was generic but that this video was just for him. I checked in with him again and wished him an awesome day. I made his day and actually got an LOL.

THAT is how you give your members a fantastic experience.

The “sad cat” technique: Use this fun trick to get a response; even if you’ve messaged someone 2-3 times without so much as a peep.

Ok…so you go to all this trouble, create awesome messages and videos, send them to your new student and…and…NOTHING. The bastard (I mean…lovely person) doesn’t reply. Nothing. 100% radio silence.

Now, before you go grab your baseball bat and go ask why they didn’t reply, step back for a moment and breath.

#1: If your community is on Slack…they are likely ignoring you so proceed with your baseball bat. Slack makes it super easy to message your members and there are no hoops to jump through.

Just kidding. If you think that the person is just ignoring you, you can use the “sad cat” technique. This is where you create a MEME using the saddest, most pathetic cat you’ve ever seen, and either accuse Facebook/Slack of keeping your messages from them OR you go straight to the guilt button and ask why they are ignoring you and making sad cat so sad?

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Something to keep in mind though, if your community is on Facebook…they might not have seen your message. You see, if they aren’t your friend the message will go straight to this “other inbox” that no one sees. FML.

TOP TIP:  For Facbook based communities, make sure to incorporate “friending you” into your onboarding sequence, to ensure they get their messages.

Imagine that they still don’t reply. What do you do then? Sending more messages isn’t going to do anything, as they will just keep going to the black hole of the “other” inbox.

So this is when I recommend creating a “no messages left behind” thread in the community.

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This is where you can tag members who are not responding to your messages and invite them to check their inbox. By tagging them in the thread that forces Facebook to notify them, which gets their attention and gets them exploring the “other” inbox, to find your message. 🙂

It might sound like a lot of work, but once you frontload the system it’s pretty simple. All you need to do initially is write a written message, record a video, create a sad cat meme and create a “why are you ignoring me” thread.

Once you’ve got those assets, you’re golden.

On to the next chapter