Your private online community is only as good as the value it offers members. With as busy as your target audience is, your community has to offer them something of useful and exclusive value to capture their attention, especially among all the other competing forces in their online, work, and personal lives.
For instance, if your organization's private online community doesn't have anything different to offer than your company's Facebook page or LinkedIn feed, what would motivate your customers or members to take the extra step of becoming active within your online community? That's why you need to establish a distinct value proposition for your private online community.
What Creates Value in Online Communities?
A large portion of the value in online customer or member communities is rooted in exclusivity. By offering members-only content, information, discussions, and access to experts, your private online community gives your members advantages they can't find elsewhere. Yet, much of this value is going to be created directly by your customers or members in how they engage with your community.
Unfortunately, this puts you in a bit of a chicken/egg situation: your private online community needs exclusive value to engage participants, but part of that exclusive value is created by participant engagement. So, how do you encourage your members to contribute to the value of your private online community?
By producing the type of compelling, exclusive content, your organization will be able to bring community members to your community and keep them coming back for more. That might seem like a tall order, but here's a list of six high quality content options you can share to help increase value and engagement.
Six Types of Content to Boost Engagement in Your Private Online Community
Socious has provided online community software to businesses, associations, and user groups for over a decade. Based on our customers' experience, the following are content ideas that increase participation when shared.
Type #1) Photographs of Recent Events
While this might seem like a simple solution, never underestimate the power of establishing your company or organization's presence "in real life." Your customers and members are likely so accustomed to interacting with their peers and colleagues online that they would welcome a dose of visual reality.
Posting pictures of your members and the people that they know at conferences, committee meetings, or even happy hour outings is a great way to draw attention from busy community members and establish your community beyond your online presence. Demonstrating that your private online community is comprised of real people interacting in the real world helps to promote engagement because it elevates the relationship of your members beyond their online interactions.
Type #2) Stories About People in your Community
Along the same lines as photos of members in the wild, posting stories and updates about the members of your community also drives people back to your community to read about themselves, friends, or people just like them.
Featuring a "member of the week" in a blog, posting updates about new developments or industry awards, celebrating promotions, or reporting on case studies are all great ways to bring your members into the spotlight and encourage more engagement within your community. Not only does featuring stories about your members help their networking, it also builds community by making your content more human and shows your members that engagement can be rewarded with recognition.
Type #3) How-To's
Your customers and members are more likely visit your community often if they are receiving relevant, useful information that they can only find in your online community. By posting how-to's or instructional content that allows your members to grow their skill set or solve specific problems, you're offering them value they can't find as easily elsewhere.
Depending on your community, your how-to content might range from simple marketing tips to something as complex as how restructure an organization to comply with new industry regulations. Educational how-to's and tips also opens the door for your customers or members to showcase their knowledge base by adding their advice and experience in the comments and discussions of your how-to information.
Type #4) Videos
According to a Forbes study, 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week. Providing your community members with video content or collecting a library of helpful and educational videos keeps them engaged with visual content they can't find elsewhere. Your videos could be short, one minute "explainer" videos of a specific concept or long recorded webinars.
However, if collecting a video library seems intimidating, don't worry"”all of the videos don't have to be solely produced by your organization. You can crowdsource, curate, or pull from your customer advocates and other members of your community who want to build their brand.
Type #5) Statistics and Data
Opinions and experiences rule the internet, but data gets people's attention. While your community members can go out and research any topic on earth, why not make your online community their one stop for stats about your industry. Infographics or charts that showcase pertinent data about your field or represent data in a new and effective way are proven to drive traffic and bring people back to your online community.
Type #6) Advanced Content
Beyond these first five types of content, you can also promote participation in your private online community with advanced content that demonstrates a deeper understanding into your community members' needs and interests.
Providing checklists, worksheets, formula spreadsheets, or presentation templates that members can physically take with them is the type of exclusive content that will consistently keep them coming back to your online community for more.
Private Online Community Engagement Takeaway
Creating a unique value proposition for your private online community isn't easy, but with an engaging content strategy, your participation levels and value will build over time. By offering exclusive content that is helpful and applicable to the real world, you can continuously demonstrate to your members why they choose to spend their time in your private online community.