You want to provide the best community experience for your paying customers, right?
Maybe you’ve set up a new community (on Facebook or Slack), created your FAQ videos, channels and pinned post. You’re feeling confident and excited to get your members in there.
You send out the email with the links to join and wait excitedly to welcome your members in.
Ok ok…it’s only been 10 minutes. We’re ok. Just give it some time.
Now it’s been 24 hours and only a handful of members are engaging. WTF!
Or maybe your community isn’t new. Perhaps your community is already established, but you’ve noticed a dip in engagement.
If you look anything like that meme version of me above, I get it.
It makes my heart race just thinking about digital tumbleweeds rolling through your community BUT it doesn’t need to be this way. There are specific things you can do to evict the tumbleweeds and get your members engaging – WITHOUT taking shit loads of your time and energy!
Now, I love working 1-on-1 with entrepreneurs to pinpoint exactly what’s working, and what needs a bit of TLC, but I also understand that not everyone can hire a Community Strategist; not to mention there is a ceiling on my time as well.
SO, to help as many entrepreneurs as possible, I birthed this this beefy guide. I downloaded my brain just for you; all my Community Management and Strategy savvy brain cells have been sucked out of my coconut and splattered onto digital paper. — Dude…that sounds like a crime scene!
If you’d like to know exactly what we’ll be covering, check out the table of contents below and if you don’t have time to read the whole thing right now (the TOC alone is 3 pages long) then download the PDF version so you can curl up on the sofa later and dig in.
BONUS MATERIAL: Get the FREE PDF.
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.
I promise, you won’t regret it.
Why? Not only will you solve your community engagement woes, you’ll laugh your ass off while you’re at it.
Ready? Let’s do this!
- What is “engagement” anyway?
- Why aren’t we focusing on “free online communities”? (even those this guide will help engage those peeps too).
- How does an engaged course community help your business?
- Who the heck am I and why did I write this guide?
- Not being yourself and not letting your personality shine through.
- Not ASKING members what they want and need right off the bat.
- Focusing on random tactics and challenges without knowing the emotional needs of your members.
- You being TOO active in your group. Yes my friend. Back off you eager beaver!
- Top 3 worries that entrepreneurs have about engaging their course communities and how to flip those worry scripts.
- “I’ll be stuck in my community 24/7”.
- “I have so many things to do already, I don’t have time for a community”.
- “What happens if no one uses the community”.
- How to sleep better at night and not dread the “wild west” of your community.
- How I clock out on Friday and clock in on Monday; and you can too.
- How to manage a smaller community of under 50 members?
- Does anything change with groups from 50-500?
- What should I keep in mind when engaging a group of over 1,000?
- Why emotions are actually the foundation of any community strategy.
- How do you learn what emotions encourage or discourage activity in your community?
- What specific questions should you ask to identify those emotions?
- Where and how can you trigger theses emotions?
- Want to know what I use to make quick, easy and “good enough” videos?
- Weekly themed posts
- What is the “late to the wedding” (LTTW) syndrome?
- What is onboarding and how does it help engage your members?
- What needs to be addressed during onboarding?
- How to use a welcome thread like a badass host.
- The #1 way to make your members feel welcomed and special as soon as they arrive.
- Do this one thing (that most people don’t do) to give your members a white glove 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.
- How active SHOULD you be in your group?
- Why waiting can actually boost engagement.
- Why your role will never include nagging your peeps into participating.
- Are your members actually SEEING what you’re doing (thanks FB algorithms)?
- Is your audience already on and comfortable with your platform of choice?
- Are you assuming they know more than they actually do? What’s a pinned post Diana?
- 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.
- Which tools have I used and which do I recommend?
- Is MeetEdgar worth the higher monthly cost?
- How else is Facebook upping their group management game?
- What to include in your guidelines.
- What to avoid.
- How should you present or deliver the guidelines?
- Take a page from the book of Jayson Gaynard. ASK, PRAISE, GIVE.
- How to enforce your guidelines without being a dick or making people scared to post and participate.
- Now. What are you actually supposed to DO when shit happens.
- To delete or not to delete?; how to handle posts that break your guidelines.
- Why this works?
- Ways you can provide live coaching.
- How to structure your live coaching sessions
- How to tailor the sessions to exactly what your members need and want.
- Facebook analytics (free)
- Grytics (Free and paid)
- Is Grytics perfect?
- Why do you NEED this data?
- Beware the time sucking black hole of vanity metrics and “fun” data.
- Find Your Minions
- The ‘24hr hold up’ Technique
- The ‘Tagging Train’ (choo-choo!) Technique
- The ‘Circle Back’ Technique
- “More than words” Technique (Memes, GIFs, photos, video)
- The ‘Can you do me a favour?’ Technique.
- The ‘Just checking in’ Technique
- The “Tag in the Troops” Technique.
- How to choose what to try first.
- How to decide if something is working (and keep doing it) or when to stop and try something else.
Let’s get on the same page
Isn’t if funny how we want something – in this case an engaged community- but we can’t decisively say what that looks like or is?
We certainly know when a community is engaged – and sadly when it isn’t *cue the lack of sleep* – but what the heck is engagement?
If you’re looking for ONE definition, you might end up wasting a lot of time on the interwebs; though mother Google serves up this definition from Wikipedia;
“Community engagement refers to the process by which community benefits organizations and individuals build ongoing, permanent relationships for the purpose of applying a collective vision for the benefit of a community.”
Sounds kind of dry. Not to mention how the hell are we supposed to make this applicable to our course communities and paid membership communities?
Kinda feels like trying to mash a star peg into a heart hole.
So I’m going to have to define it for us.
For the purposes of this guide, let’s agree that engagement refers to:
The process of triggering trackable signs (and the presence of those signs) that members of a community are making use of the community, getting value from it, and building relationships with other members. As a result they use (and often complete) the course associated with the community or renew their membership.
Are you with me? Smashing!
Why aren’t we focusing on “free online communities”? (even those this guide will help engage those peeps too)
That’s right my little chickens. We aren’t talking about free Facebook groups or free online communities in this here guide. We are focusing on course communities and paid membership communities.
To be completely honest, I wholeheartedly believe that hosting free Facebook groups is a huge waste of your precious time and energy and they shouldn’t be used to grow your business.
I know there are people out there that disagree with that view. Funny thing is that those peeps usually have some sort of financial gain to you believing free Facebook groups are good for your business.
I mean, some people base their entire business on helping you set up your free Facebook group, so OF COURSE they are going to disagree with me.
Now, if you want to go ahead and create a free group…go right ahead but know that you’re setting it up to fail if you look at it simply as a way to get subscribers and get more clients.
Think about how transactional and superficial that sounds.
“Hey self, I’m-a-gonna go set up this community so I can bring people together and then sell them my shit”.
As a community manager and strategist, I think differently.
Communities are a place for people to gather and connect in terms of a given subject. A community is NOT somewhere for you to jump on your high horse, point the spotlight on your pretty mug and bombard said group with reasons why you’re amazing at what you do, why they should sign up to “THIS will change your life” program you just happen to be offering, and to basically repeat that on a weekly basis.
As amazing as you are, (nice mug too), no one wants to be a part of something that is only about YOU. News flash amigo, it’s all about THEM. So when you use a community as a soapbox…you’ll lose your audience pronto.
So again, I’m not saying that a free Facebook group ISN’T a tool to grow your list, but I am saying that there are better approaches. Free communities take a hell of a lot of time and resources to make them work AND it kind of goes against the community building code.
Repeat after me: I shall not use my community as a platform to simply promote myself.
The time and energy you invest in a free Facebook group would be much better spent writing an ultimate guide (like this beefy beast here), writing epic guest posts on other blogs, – like I’m doing for GrowthLab (Why so many big guns are killing their free Facebook Groups and what that means for your business).- or anything where you go above and beyond.
You might say that you could go above and beyond with a free community, and I’m sure you could, but the time and resources required to do that wouldn’t leave you 10 minutes to drop the kids off at the pool (plop plop).
So many people have this idea that setting up and running a free community isn’t a big deal, that it’s a great way to grow your list. Now…that may be true…it probably can help you grow your list…but at what cost?
Do you honestly know how much time and energy it is going to take to get that group up and running? To engage it and police it from the sea of self-promoter, cray-crays, and assholes out there?
The only time where I recommend taking the plunge into the community waters is when there is green on the table folks. That’s right Jerry Maguire. SHOW ME THE MONEY!
Someone needs to put a wad of cash’ola in your hands and in exchange for that wad they get access to a course or coaching program which has a community as well. This applies to memberships as well.
Just in case you’re not sure why an engaged course community is an asset for your business, think about what it is you want to have happen for your students.
You probably want them to:
- Work through your course material with ease.
- Have any and all of their questions and doubts answered quickly and easily (Which you can then use to improve your program for version 2.0).
- You want them to interact with the course material on a regular consistent basis.
- You want them to finish the course and get results.
All of this -and more- can be achieved by setting up and fostering an engaged community.
When members know that they are not alone –that their peers get stuck at module 2.5 too– and they can actually support and encourage other students…magic happens.
Your members will feel so many different emotions as a result of being a member of your community. Pride, acceptance, connected, elite, supported, understood, challenged, etc.
The list goes on and on, and these emotions are the strategy that will make or break your community. In this guide you’ll learn how to use those emotions to make your community amazeballs.
I wrote this guide to answer the massive number of Qs that A-list entrepreneurs have about this mythical beast called community engagement. So many business owners know the power of community and yet they struggle to set them up, to maintain and grow them and especially to keep their members engaged.
It is my dream to write the be-all-end-all guide to community engagement, and serve it up on a fun to digest platter, just for you. Easy to read and implement, while inducing LOLs throughout.
As for myself, I’m Diana Tower and I’m an Online Community Strategist and community is my bag baby.
Also, when I join an online course, I can’t help myself from adding to the community and helping bring everyone together.
That’s how I landed my first (and biggest) client I, “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” (IWT). I joined Ramit Sethi’s Zero to Launch program to learn how to set up my own online business and as I worked through the material I realized I needed more support and so I joined Accelerator as well for personalized coaching.
I joined the exclusive community and starting doing what I do best…adding value to the community and the company noticed. Within a couple months I was brought on as the Accelerator Community Manager and also one of the Business Coaches.
I’ve also supported other A-list entrepreneurs like Selena Soo, Primoz Bozic, and Tiffany McLain with their course communities.
So if you’re looking to get useful insights with a sprinkle of humour, then this guide is for you.
Read on entrepreneurial badass…