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Spring Cleaning - What Parts of Your Community Need Work?

Written by Calista Rollogas | on March 31, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Spring cleaning: what parts of your community need work?

It’s spring, which means it’s time to fine tune your community. What aspects of your community can you improve? Are there any nagging issues you’ve been meaning to work on?

If you run a community, you constantly have to balance two big groups: your members’ needs and your organization’s needs. When deciding what parts of your community need tweaking or a check-in, consider the overlap between those two groups. How will your fine tuning support them?

You probably have a million little things on your list, but here are the top five ideas for spring we think are important for increasing engagement and value -- and they’re easy to tackle:

1. Go through banners and graphics

What part of a newspaper most often has the most typos? The headlines, because they’re so prominent we don’t even think of double checking them.

Similarly, you shouldn’t assume all your banners and graphics are up-to-date and current.

We’re so used to seeing them, we stop thinking about the information they’re supposed to convey and just take them for granted. That makes it easy for them to become outdated or irrelevant but still take up important space in your community -- space that could be used for an upcoming event or current promotion.

Part of your audit should also be to make sure they’re tagged correctly -- it’s important they have good alt-tags and descriptions so they’re accessible for all members. Properly tagged images also help your SEO if the community is open.

Beyond doing a banner and graphic audit, come up with a plan for the rest of the year, if you haven’t already. Make sure you regularly change the images on your site to keep it looking fresh and interesting.

2. Use discussion ads to promote other aspects of community

Advertising is a powerful way to promote different things, and is an important alternative revenue stream for many communities.

Don’t forget -- you don’t need to sell all those spaces to partners or affiliates. They’re an awesome tool in your toolbelt for promoting in-house items. Are there any upcoming events or webinars you want people to know about?

Placing advertisements in discussions is also a good way to redirect members to other parts of the community. Is your library underutilized? Do members frequently forget that the directory exists? Use ad space in the discussion section to promote those resources, and members can learn more about the community.

3. Analyze the most popular discussions and threads

Now it’s time to look at your most popular content. Which discussions or threads were members particularly excited about? Analyze the discussions and threads with the most action from the past year, and come up with ways of replicating that engagement. Look to see if there’s a theme or any similarities between them. Maybe it’s the way a question is worded, or maybe they’re random, fun discussions.

What’s the recipe for creating an engaging discussion or thread? Come up with a list of potential discussions or threads you can pull out when engagement is lacking. Track which ones are the most popular, so you can crack the code.

4. Clean up your emails

What’s your bounce rate?

Email deliverability is critical for engagement -- how are you supposed to reach members and encourage them to participate if you don’t have a working email address?

Now is the perfect time to comb through those emails and see which work and which repeatedly bounce back. Look at the emails bouncing back -- are they attached to real people who still use the community? Cull those emails -- and maybe those people -- so your data is accurate. If you can trace them back to real people, ask them for a current, working email address. Once you’ve cleaned up those bad emails, not only will you have better contact with everyone, but you’ll also have a better picture of your open rates to gauge what people find valuable.

5. Update current automation rules and create new ones

Have you thought about your automation rules recently, or are you stuck on autopilot? Now is a good time to think about your general community goals and how automation rules fit. Do you want to increase the number of first time postersor streamline the onboarding process? Automation rules can help you with those goals -- and many more -- increasing your klout with members and saving you time.

If you already have automation rules in place, review their wording and make sure they’re up to date -- you want them to be as effective as possible. And, if you don’t have automation rules set up to support your goals, look into creating a few. There are many creative ways to use automation rules, beyond just sending email blasts, so you reach the right people at the right time.

Small steps to clean your community

Sometimes the smallest adjustments make a big difference. You don’t need to do an enormous community overhaul to smooth things out and increase engagement and value.

As you decide what parts of your community need a little spring cleaning, it’s important you measure the effects of those changes. Tracking the right metrics will let you know if you’re on the right path and help your future decisions.

And, as your community matures, the metrics you follow may change as well. Or you may decide you need to focus your attention elsewhere. Keep the big picture in mind, continue to set and change goals, and always think about how the community benefits both the organization and the members.

What are your community spring cleaning tips?


Topics: Online Community Management, Marketing Automation, Online Community

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