I’m not helping clients increase user engagement with our
online community solution (Evoq Social), I’m out on
the golf course trying to break ninety.
From the equipment, to the beautiful
courses, I love everything about the sport. But the thing I enjoy the most is
the golfing community.
I decided to use Evoq Social to build an
online community for golfers (GolfersCa.com). Proud of my work, I shared my site with friends and family and asked them to sign up as members.
Photo source: MarineCorps NewYork on flickr.
And though I enjoyed my mother’s (a
non-golfer) posts about Tiger Woods, I knew GolfersCA was not a true online
community until I had truly engaged community members.
I had my online community up and running.
I picked up DNN's
Online Community Playbook and developed the following plan to increase members and
1) Recruit Community Evangelists (from your user base)
community has one and most successful communities have more than one. We all know
them: they tend to flood our newsfeed and are first to
comment on photos. These community evangelists supply the content on websites. I knew I
needed them, but
where and how would I recruit them?
college job was selling golf clubs during the weekend. I was able to meet and
network with many golf pros, caddies, golf instructors and greenskeepers. I’ve
kept in touch with most of them, just in case I ever needed a free round, or
in this case,
more members in my online community!
invited my golf network to become not only community members, but community
experts as well. With Evoq Social’s
gamification features, I was able to reward them extra
points and give them exclusive “Golf Pro” badges. They were my new community
Pictured: Meet Megan and Carl, two of the community evangelists on the site.
They knew that their contributions are not only beneficial for the community, but for their own personal branding (in the golf
industry) as well. I encouraged them to blog, answer questions, and post discussion
topics. Though my community evangelists are my personal friends, they are
passionate about golf. Your's may be employees or clients. You may
not even personally know your community evangelists. What's important is that
they are passionate about your product or cause.
2) Create Engaging Content
I recruited my community evangelists, the second step came easy. My goal was to
have them generate the content for my site and reduce my workload. The only
problem was, what content would they write? I
wanted to create a community for all types of golfers. I needed to tailor my
content to the community members I hoped to attract.
Photo source: Dan Perry on
example, if I was a new golfer, what would I want to read? Maybe a blog post on
the fundamentals of the golf swing? Or a discussion topic on the best golf
equipment for beginners?
strategized my content topics based on what my
audience would like
. But most importantly, I needed to identify the topics that would keep them engaged
and incent them to participate.
I came up with content ideas, I took them to my community evangelists. Their
Golf Pro badges were well deserved as they posted blogs, answered questions and
I encouraged them to
end all posts with an open-ended
, asking the reader their thoughts, ideas and feelings on the topic. Why? To invite other members to join the conversation.
community manager dreams that one day, user-generated content floods their
community. That would be ideal, but in a new community, you need to do a little extra to fuel the flames (so to speak). When creating content,
remember to always ask yourself, what content would my community members want
to read? Or better yet,
what content would make them participate?
3) Host an Event or Attend a Meetup
best way to recruit members is to find communities in the real world. Where is the best place to recruit golfers?
else but a golf course! Hosting an event or attending a meet-up is a great way
to meet and recruit members.
I joined local golf groups, and attended meet-ups
where I met golfers and introduced them to my online community.
with joining meet-ups, I reached out to local golf courses. I partnered with
Deep Cliff Golf Course in Cupertino, California.
Photo source: Francesco Crippa on flickr.
I shared their golf tournament on my
site, and plan to work with them and other golf courses to promote
People join organizations they
believe in and trust. This is especially important if you’re running an online
community that requires your members to share their personal information. By
hosting golf events and tournaments, I will build my community’s credibility
among golfers. These meet-ups and events
will not only increase member registrations, but also build bonds among community members.
If you build it, will they come? Not
really. My community was
empty and lifeless for four months after its launch
date. With Evoq Social, building my online community was the easy part.
Figuring out how to grow the community was hard.It's important to spend time figuring out your community growth strategy. I hope these tips I've shared have given you a framework for the first steps
in starting your own online community.