How to Increase Engagement Within Your Online Community

Phil Garbrecht

Branded online communities are a valuable resource. Communities offer a place where your audience can gather and information can be shared. Audiences gravitate towards this type of authentic, unscripted communication: A recent Forrester study found that 76% of consumers value an authentic, human response over a crafted message from a brand. Not only can online communities offer your fans a meeting place, they can also supplement — or even replace — traditional care channels. Still, many consumers see online communities as a place to find answers to questions about broken products and not much else. But successful communities are designed to help customers along their entire journey, and your brand’s job is to bring awareness to your audience.

Khoros Communities can help you build and maintain a thriving community, and newly-added capabilities can help even brands with successful communities improve. Our whitepaper, How Online Communities Improve Every Stage of the Customer Journey, can guide your brand by embedding the best community experiences in more places along the customer journey. Once you’ve set the foundation for a healthy community by onboarding users and organizing your content, promoting activity in your community is the next crucial step. We’ve identified three key ways your brand can ensure robust community engagement today, including community syndication, gamification, and user recognition programs to build authenticity and loyalty.

Highlight the best with community syndication

Community syndication simply means publishing community content elsewhere on your brand’s website, or even placing content generated in your online communities on third party sites. Content syndication is commonly done for blog posts, writes Neil Patel, as it’s a scalable way to increase engagement with your brand: One piece of content, multiple publications, wider audiences reached. With community syndication, you can dramatically expand the audience for your community content by featuring the content anywhere on your website.

When you embed content from your online communities into your brand’s website, you make it easy for your audience to ask questions and learn from peers without overtly engaging them the way a sales rep might through chat. Putting the power to control the interaction and information exchanged in the hands of your consumers helps them feel at ease.

Just like how a retail sales person following you around the store is much more intrusive than one who instead lets you explore and offers help only when asked, community syndication allows your brand to embed helpful articles, products, and chat transcripts in places around your website that your audience can engage with on their terms. An example of engaging customers with community is embedding things like knowledge base articles into product pages.

Community syndication is one of several new enhancements for the Khoros Communities solution.

Increase engagement with gamification

Gamification has the ability to drive actions and increase engagement, especially within online communities. Khoros alumnus Dr. Michael Wu explains the psychology behind successful gamification: “For the most part, people love to be in control because it gives them a sense of security and safety. But people also hate boredom.” Dr. Wu explains that we as humans are motivated by challenges, surprises, and variations, and successful gamification programs need to adapt with people’s skill to find the place just beyond certainty (if your gamification program is too easy, your audience will become bored, too difficult, they will give up).

By using gamification features to encourage users to do things like write reviews you can offer your audience the authentic communication they crave while also strengthening the reviewers’ ties to your brand. In this way, you’re not only encouraging engagement but you’re also building brand advocacy.

Discover talent with user recognition programs

User recognition programs can improve your brand’s community engagement by helping to build a true peer-to-peer community. Software brand Autodesk offers an excellent example of a brand that effectively engages superusers. With their Khoros-powered community, Autodesk was able to identify and engage passionate community members and include them in their customer support and product development efforts.

Autodesk created an “Expert Elite” user recognition program in their community in order to increase engagement, improve the customer experience, and build their peer-to-peer support network. With their program, Autodesk was able to recognize users who contributed their time, expertise, and support to customers. After beginning their Expert Elite program, Autodesk saw increased visits to their online community and more support cases were solved by peers, rather than Autodesk agents. Autodesk now has more than 455 Expert Elites in 52 countries, and they’ve built a strong sense of loyalty within their community while also improving customer care.

You can further enhance user recognition with community syndication. Some ideas include: featuring expert users’ guides and articles in your resources section or support section, including their stories in the case study section, or even recognizing them on your homepage. Remember to contact anyone you’d like to recognize and ask for their permission to ensure you respect their privacy. Most superusers will be ecstatic to be recognized and will gladly accept.

An effectively-supported community can enhance your brand in many ways, but a community involves an investment in time and effort. Continuing to help your brand’s community grow and thrive will prevent your community from becoming irrelevant. Employing tactics like community syndication, gamification, and user recognition are excellent concrete ways that your brand can help your community evolve. To learn more about how investing in your brand’s community can help your business, download our whitepaper: How Online Communities Improve Every Stage of the Customer Journey.

    Would you like to learn more about Khoros?