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Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

How to build an engaged online community

An online community is a group of people with common interests who use the Internet (web sites, email, social networks, etc) to communicate, work together and pursue their interests over time.

Things you'll need

  • A group of engaged people with a shared interest
  • Somewhere to host the group -this could be LinkedIn, Facebook or Knowhow Nonprofit groups.
1

Plan your content

Posting interesting and engaging content regularly is essential. Creating a content plan in advance will help you plan ahead and ensure you always have interesting stuff to share.

Ideas for content:

  • Blogs from your organisation or external people (encourage members to post links to their blogs as well)
  • Ask a leading question to get people talking/ debating
  • Survey – focusing on what you and your members would be interested in knowing the answers to
  • New articles, content and news stories – from your website and external sites
  • Member of the week – recognise members’ achievements and contributions to build awareness of who members are
  • Monthly webinar
  • Weekly polls – these could be both industry specific and general and are a great way to get content for blog posts and newsletter articles

 

2

Start small

It's much more effective to have a group of really engaged people than hundreds or thousands of members who do not interact with each other.

Start with a small enthusiastic group of people and focus on getting things right with them. Your community will grow organically from there.

3

Welcome new members

Make new members feel welcome by acknowledging them as soon as possible. They will be more likely to continue engaging with the community if they see value in the community straight away.

Richard Millington from Feverbee recommends going further than simply saying hi. He suggests asking specific questions, such as:

  • What would you like to get from this community?
  • What can you offer the community?
  • How would you like to participate in this community?

This will help you get to know your members and their motivations for joining the group. The more you know, the more tailored and relevant you can make your content.

4

Make it part of your routine

Allocating a little bit of time every day not only means you'll be able to respond to your members questions and comments on a more regular basis, but the more you check your group, the easier it will be to keep on top of things. 

Get into the habit of checking your group every morning, alongside your emails or Twitter, and before you log off for the evening.

5

Enlist the help of community champions

Champions, advocates or ambassadors can play an important role in your community, particularly if you are managing a group on your own. They will help you create conversations, mentor new members, promote the group externally and generally support you in the day to day running of your group.

They should be your most enthusiastic and influential members. Create a set of simple tasks or responsibilities and involve them in future planning and development. In return make sure you make them feel valued by acknowledging their commitment.

6

Don't forget offline interactions

Online interactions shouldn't replace offline interactions. If possible, host offline meet-ups for your members. This will strengthen individual relationships as well as the community as whole. If this isn’t possible, do try to communicate with your members via other channels, i.e. via email, Twitter, at events or meetings, or on the phone. 

Further information

For more resources and practical tips on building an online community, check out the FeverBee website.

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Page last edited Dec 21, 2017 History

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