Many community groups make an effort to share what they are doing to help build a sense of community, to celebrate what makes their group worth joining and when you receive comments like this, it helps to make all the effort worthwhile.
"I decided to visit one of your social events to learn more because I felt that I could connect with the pictures and membership activities shared on your Facebook page." - actual feedback from a visitor at a recent community group social event.
In practice, to receive feedback like this it requires creating good quality content that people will be interested in engaging with and sharing. Key with a quality content sharing strategy like this is to have an engaging purpose and to always focus on sharing content that is not about you, but rather is about what your audience and what your members will be interested in. Of interest, prior to the comment this group had put into place a plan to:
- Do engaging events on a regular basis.
- Use email to encourage membership to share group events.
- Use social media, email and their website to keep in contact with members.
Note that many businesses understand how they can use community engagement to grow their brand. Evidence of this can be found in corporate sustainability strategies of volunteering, sponsorship and hosting events to help with sharing their business culture.
Some real life examples and observations
Following are some real engagement numbers for three community groups. Whilst the names of the groups have had their names purposefully removed for this article their groups purposes are shown.
- Group purpose ... friends making a difference - events include themed get-togethers, fundraising events like selling sausages at hardware stores for raising money for community projects and group meetings. The group has 450 social media followers with the first post shared on Facebook in 2012. Results over the last 12 months include a small number of enquiries about joining and 3 new members. On average 1 picture post was shared on social media per month from a single author. Some social media picture posts were shared as embedded posts on the website which receives about 80 new visit per month from new people who in the majority find the website organically via search and social media. This group has an informal approach to sharing with members and friends via a number of email newsletters. Of interest is that group membership are still learning about Facebook page and group website. Joining the group as a member is easy provided that you meet some qualifying criteria.
- Group purpose ... join, share and have fun with friends - events include dinners, regular informal social catchups and group meetings. The group has 750 social media followers with the first post shared on Facebook in 2011. Results over the last 12 months are 7 enquires about joining and some possible new membership pending. On average 11 pictures and articles of interest are shared on social media per month from a small group of authors. The group also uses Twitter to find information of interest and connect will people. Significant community interest posts are shared as embedded posts on the website which gets about 26 visits per month with most people visiting more than once. The group has a coordinated automated email marketing approach to sharing updates with 30 registered subscribers consisting of a mix of members and "friends" interested in learning more. The group also communicates directly via personal email and social media messaging channels asking for likes, comments and reshares of featured social media posts about events. Joining the group as a formal member usually can take anywhere between 3 to 6 months.
- Group purpose ... helping people to learn, share and mentor - events include in-person and online events. the group has 3,700 social media followers with the first post shared on LinkedIn in 2015. Results overall are 450 registered members and success is measured in 50+ attendance at events. On average 60 posts are shared on social media per month on the groups LinkedIn page from a large group of authors. The group also uses Twitter and other collaboration platforms to engage with different segments of their audience. The group has no formal website as such, but rather the community is spread across channels. The group has a coordinated approach to sharing events via email and personal messaging on social media platforms. Joining the group as a formal member is easy and only requires completion of a signup form.
Observations from each of these groups ...
- Having a group purpose helps people understand more about what the group has to offer - to read more check out how to get started with small business digital marketing.
- Ongoing and long term commitment to sharing quality engaging content is important.
- Embedding social media content is an easy goto strategy for digital marketing - to read more have a look at embedding can be a quick easy win for keeping in touch and engaging your audience.
- Use of more than one social media platform can help to create a diversity of shareable interesting content.
- Communicating with different audience segments via social media messaging and email is an important part of helping to engage with membership.
- Creative plans help make wins - for help have a look at how to get started with a free ideas workshop.
- More people involved equals more results.
Have your say, how has your community group used email, social media and/or a website to encourage new membership?
Does this sound like a conversation that you would like to help share? if it is, then feel very welcome to make a comment about about your community group's experiences with social media, website and email with answers to any, or all of the following questions.
- Does your group have a purpose?
- When did your group first post on social media?
- Do you know if your group has any analytic reporting?
- Does your group regularly sharing content on social media? and if so how often?
- Does your group have a website? and if so how often do new posts get shared on the website?
- How does your group use email to help communicate?
- Would you consider that sharing has made a difference to your groups new membership?
- Any other comments.
Thanks for reading along and reach out if any questions.
Leave a comment and share your answers. You don't need to be a group leader to share a comment. Looking forward to some interesting comments, because the more we all share, the more we all learn.