For B2B communities to thrive and grow—engagement is essential.
No matter your type of community, it’s important to give your members a sense of purpose and a reason to keep coming back. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.
That’s why we’ve rounded up these seven community growth strategies for kickstarting engagement in your community.
Strategy 1: Create ‘rooms’ for greater collaboration
Creating sub-communities involves dividing online communities into smaller sub-groups or ‘rooms’. These can be based on specific topics, shared interests, for answering questions, or any other criteria.
Rooms provide the space for community members to have focused discussions, without these getting lost in the wider conversation. This can help foster a sense of belonging and encourage a deeper level of engagement between users within those rooms.
Facilitating conversations between members with specific interests also allows for greater collaboration as users share best practices, resources, and expertise.
To be successful, rooms should align with the overarching goals of your community. They also need to be well-moderated, with an active presence from community managers.
Find out why community engagement is important.
Strategy 2: Encourage user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is the key to any active, online B2B community. This can be anything from social media comments and reviews from customers to behind-the-scenes content from employees.
Authentic UGC can help establish a trusted brand image, boost lead generation, and drive business growth. Research shows that peer-to-peer content like communities and third-party reviews are the top two trusted sources for B2B content.
Incentives can encourage your community to get involved. This might include setting up member rewards, giving away merchandise, or product discounts. Another option is simply acknowledging top contributors with a shoutout or badge displayed on their profile.
Strategy 3: Develop a membership program
Creating a membership program involves monetising your community space by asking for a subscription fee from members. You may choose to develop tiers, with some content available for free, and the rest available to subscribers only.
One clear benefit of offering paid membership is that it creates recurring revenue for your company, but it’s also important to consider things from your members’ point of view. Membership programs can offer opportunities for deeper conversations, by allowing for one-to-one and one-to-many connections to industry and brand experts that users might not have the opportunity to experience otherwise.
Before going down the monetisation route, it’s crucial to ensure that your users are already engaged and active. So don’t skip the other strategies we’ve covered. A community marketing strategy can help describe the value your membership program brings. Consider offering incentives including:
- Access to exclusive content
- Discounts for annual memberships
- Free trials
- A referral program
Strategy 4: Recognise the experts within your community
This strategy involves taking note of any members of your community with a deep knowledge of your products or industry and acknowledging their valuable input. These experts may be employees, customers, or partners.
Recognising the experts who take the time to interact within your community can help increase online community engagement from other members who want to learn from their expertise. It can also establish your position as an industry thought leader, increasing interest in your community as a place to interact with experts and discuss best practices.
To execute this strategy, identify experts either manually or using data analytics. Creating badges to reward and acknowledge expert community members is one option, but you can also invite them to participate in virtual events and other opportunities to share their insights.
Strategy 5: Organise virtual events & meetups
Organising high-value experiences for your community involves offering opportunities for knowledge sharing. These include virtual events, meetups, networking, live-streaming video panels, and Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions.
These events bring community members and brand experts together, allowing them to collaborate, do a deep dive into specific topics, and experience a unique online experience. Creating a digital hub that brings together attendees, speakers, and sponsors in one place means your community can connect, learn, and grow.
For virtual events to work, avoid trying to make them too much like the live events that most B2B companies relied on in the past. Offering interactive elements like Q&A sessions, chat rooms, and polls can complement in-person experiences while ensuring geographical location isn’t a barrier to attendance.
Strategy 6: Welcome feedback
Gathering feedback from your community involves asking for users’ opinions through a range of different channels. These include polls, short surveys, and questionnaires. Other feedback might come through your support channels.
This feedback can help you identify what your users want—and whether you’re meeting their expectations. User comments can be passed on to development teams to help improve your services. Creating a feedback loop like this can build trust and boost retention because your customers can see you value their opinions.
For best results, collect feedback using a blend of methods. Some customers prefer short Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys, while others will be more likely to complete longer surveys that allow them to leave qualitative feedback. Choosing a virtual events platform that allows you to embed surveys and forms into your community makes it easy to collect feedback.
Strategy 7: Employ community engagement tools
Community engagement tools offer tried-and-tested ways for B2B companies to increase participation within their community.
These tools reward active members and encourage others to engage more, so they receive rewards as well.
The tools you choose will depend on your product and brand. Some popular options that might appeal to your community management framework team include:
- Acknowledging top commenters: Public shout-outs, both within your community and externally, can make your top commenters feel valued and appreciated.
- Reposting member content: Encourage member activity by asking your members to share their success stories, with a selection being featured on your blog, newsletter, or podcast. If you don’t have a podcast, use the content within your newsletter or blog.
- Brand merchandise: Most people love a bit of swag. Create a points system that rewards engagement and allows members to ‘earn’ merchandise.