Note: This post was originally published on the
Community Manager Appreciation Day website.
In online communities, I use the term “meta content” to refer to
information about the community itself.
Meta content can build stronger
ties among community members. And, it can direct us to conversations and
content (in the community) that we otherwise would have missed.
Each time we receive a Notification on Twitter or a Like on Facebook,
our brain generates a small burst of dopamine.
It’s these continued
rewards (and dopamine hits) that keep us engaged and active on social
media. Meta content helps spur dopamine hits to your community members.
Community Manager Appreciation Day Panel
I had the pleasure of participating in a
Community Manager Appreciation Day hangout, “Communities Around Content.” We covered a number of topics, one of which was meta content.
Meta content is an untapped opportunity for many online communities.
Let’s consider five ways you can incorporate meta content into your
1. Most Active Contributors
First, define “active.” I like to look for a combination of active
and influential. “Active” can be measured by the number of posts or
comments. “Influential” can be measured by the number of posts that
receive likes or up-votes.
When listing contributors, be sure to hyperlink to their profile page
(within the community). Users who are recognized as “Most Active” will
feel that dopamine hit. This keeps them further vested in the community.
And other users who see the “Most Active” list will say to themselves,
“I want to make that list next time.”
2. Most Popular Discussions
Think about Twitter: you go offline for two hours and might miss 10+
interesting tweets. The same goes for content and conversations in
online communities. As a community manager, think of yourself as a
"Most Popular" doesn’t have to be the post with the most views or
likes. It could be a combination of popular post and interesting topic,
as determined by you. In other words, use an “ICYMI filter” (In Case You
3. Unanswered Questions or Discussions
A new member needs help, so she posts a question to the community. A
few days go by. A few weeks go by. The question sits unanswered. How
will that member feel about the community? Make her feel good by drawing
attention to her question.
Publish a list of unanswered questions. Reach out (individually) to
members that you know have the answers (e.g. send them emails, send them
a Direct Message on Twitter, etc.). Encourage them to share their
4. Member of the Month
Each month, designate a Member of the Month and feature that member
in a blog post. Find out about their background and interview them on
what makes their community participation enjoyable. Give them ways to
share their designation outside of the community (e.g. on Twitter, in
their email signature, etc.).
5. A Thank You Board
It’s user-generated content that makes a community tick. Create a
board (or discussion area) that enables members to provide thanks to
others. As members see the “thanks” start to pour in, they’ll be more
motivated to help others. In addition, they’ll use the thank you board
when they receive help themselves.
Amplify Your Meta Content
Now, let’s consider ways in which you can augment or amplify some of the “community meta content” you’re creating.
1. Email Newsletters
An opt-in email newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with your
community. We all go a few days without logging in to online
communities. But we never go more than a few hours without checking our
email. An email newsletter is a fabulous place to promote your active
contributors, your popular discussions and your Member of the Month.
Believe me, it will drive significant traffic to your community.
2. Web Meetings or Online Hangouts
Ever hear of
#CMGRHangout? It’s a weekly online meeting (on Friday’s) on community management topics, organized by MyCMGR.com. They use Google Hangouts, which is a great tool for real-time, multi-user video chat (and it’s free).
If you’re more comfortable with a conference call or a web meeting
platform, that’s fine. The key thing is to have a regularly scheduled
gathering for your community. It’s at these gatherings that you can
amplify your meta content.
3. Regional Meetups
That’s right: online community members can be well served by meeting
face-to-face from time to time. I’ve experienced this firsthand myself:
relationships that develop online can become more substantial and
meaningful after a single face-to-face meet-up. Spending just five
minutes with someone (in person) gives you a stronger appreciation of
who they are and what they’re about.
Online communities are centered around a shared interest or passion.
Content about those interests and passions is the fuel for sustained
engagement. Content about the community (meta content) serves as booster
fuel. I hope this post has given you some ideas on how you can create
further engagement within your own community.