The best communities are made up of supportive, enthusiastic and engaged members who are always keen to share their ideas, give their input and help out others in the community.
While this sounds great on paper, the problem of how to increase community engagement is one that many brands struggle with.
If you need help with community engagement ideas and building a community engagement strategy, keep reading. We’ll cover all the basics of community engagement, including 3 community engagement best practices, top tips and 30+ community engagement ideas.
- Importance of community engagement
- Community engagement best practices
- 30+ community engagement ideas
- Create your community engagement strategy
What is a community engagement strategy?
A community engagement strategy is the method brands can use to encourage engagement from their community members.
Community engagement is the way in which individuals interact and co-create within a group. In virtual communities, members contribute, learn, and share with others in the community by posting, commenting and liking content in a group.
A community engagement strategy has the ability to create, enhance, and sustain social ties among community members. It can also increase community members’ sense of belonging and commitment to the community.
Read on to find out more about the importance of community engagement and the benefits you can expect from a good community engagement strategy.
Community engagement is a critical part of any brand’s wider marketing plans. Community engagement is extra important for helping brands connect with their customers and establish an advantage over their competitors while helping to grow their business and generate leads.
Why is community engagement important?
An effective community engagement strategy can:
- Build trust
- Increase brand loyalty
- Empower community members
- Provide access to multiple perspectives and expertise
- Create a culture of collaboration
- Improve communication
Community engagement is a key strategy for generating a buzz around your brand. If you can boost your community engagement, you can benefit from a whole host of different positive outcomes.
When it comes to community engagement, there are some key things to bear in mind. These community engagement best practices are aimed at creating a positive, cooperative space for all your community members while limiting conflict.
Here are our community engagement tips:
1. Create a safe environment for engagement
When it comes to community engagement best practices, the most important thing to aim for is a safe, supportive and accessible environment for all your community members. This should be your top priority and is something to keep front of mind when building your community engagement strategy.
To achieve this, it’s important to have community engagement guidelines in place to help members understand what kind of engagement is allowed and expected in the group.
Here are the community rules for the Thinkific Studio for Online Course Creators:
Appointing moderators is also a good strategy to help create a safe community environment. Moderators can help to manage conflict and safeguard community members, while also setting the tone for all communication within the group. Make sure that you clearly outline what is expected of your moderators internally and the steps they should take to address rule breaks and handle complaints.
2. Give your community a sense of purpose
When you’re developing a community engagement strategy, it’s a really good idea to create clear goals for your community. This is best done as early as possible to give your community direction and purpose.
This is one of the community engagement best practices that brands and course creators can use to help community members help themselves.
If you want to increase community engagement, give your community shared aims. This provides users with a clear understanding of what is expected of them in the community, including what kinds of content to post, how to engage with other members and what they can gain from being an active participant in the group.
As well as benefiting your community members, setting goals for your community can also help you to shape your long-term community engagement strategy. With concrete goals in mind, you can find community engagement ideas that are relevant, rather than taking a scattergun approach to engagement and content creation.
3. Test different engagement strategies
When creating a community engagement strategy, it’s also important to remember that things can change! The best community engagement strategy should be flexible.
Don’t be afraid to switch up your strategy if something isn’t working or if you come across a new community engagement idea that you think could work better.
This is one of the top community engagement best practices because it allows you to continually improve and refine your community to suit the needs of your members. Be adaptable and stay relevant.
With these community engagement best practices in mind, check out our list of 30+ community engagement ideas below.
If you’re looking for community engagement ideas to help kickstart your community and keep it running well, here are our top recommendations.
To make it easier, we’ve separated these community engagement ideas into 3 sections: community engagement basics, community engagement tools and community engagement events.
1. Speak to your audience
If you’re looking to build an engaged and interested community for your brand, you need to start with yourself and your team.
Everything you post should speak to your target audience. Think about your brand voice and brand personality. Whoever is posting in the group on behalf of your brand needs to use the same voice – that goes for content, engagement and even answering DMs.
Of course, the way you speak to your audience is not just about the words you use. It includes your community engagement strategy too.
The best community engagement strategy is tailored to your target audience – from the types of brand partnerships you establish, to the polls and surveys you run, to the challenges you set for members. Keep this in mind when you’re looking out for community engagement ideas.
Try asking yourself:
- Does this speak to my audience?
- Is this the type of content my audience wants to see?
- Is this relevant to my community goals?
- Will this add value for my audience?
If you can keep your target audience at the forefront of everything you do, you’re more likely to have success with your community engagement strategy and find effective community engagement ideas.
Not sure who your target audience is yet? Check out this blog for help.
2. Encourage multi-channel engagement
The secret to a good community engagement strategy is to think about it as just one part of your wider digital marketing strategy.
Community engagement is not just about encouraging an active community in your Facebook group, for instance. Your community engagement strategy should feed into all of your marketing channels.
Why? Because people rarely engage on just one platform. Members who are part of your Facebook might also want to follow you on Twitter or Instagram, join a private group or sign up to your newsletter. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to reach your customers across multiple touchpoints.
Look for common themes that you can use across your marketing channels and map out how they can work together to cross-promote. Remind your community members about other ways they can keep in touch with your brand and add links to your other marketing channels in all your social media bios, landing pages and more.
3. Make it fun
This is a really important one – if you want to boost community engagement, make your community fun! It’s so much easier for people to engage in a community that’s light-hearted and upbeat compared to one that’s dry, dull and way too serious.
Here are some ideas to try:
- Give your community a cool name
- Share jokes
- Post memes
- Use GIFs
- Play games e.g. Guess who? or Spot The Difference
If you can add some fun to your community, your community members will automatically be keener to engage. Don’t underestimate this simple but effective community engagement strategy!
4. Be active
At the end of the day, what your community members want is the chance to engage with you and your brand. When you join a community, you expect to know who’s running it. This means that you need to be active in your own community to encourage your members to do the same.
If you’re a course creator, this is especially important. When you’re the face of your brand, your community members want to hear from you. That means being present in your group – ideally every day, multiple times a day.
Being active includes:
- Answering direct questions
- Liking members’ posts
- Sharing relevant material
- Replying to DMs
If you don’t have time to be active in your group every day, appoint one or more people on your team to take on the job. Make sure you give them a proper introduction to your community – and your personal endorsement. Your community members need to know that this person or team is an expert and that they can trust them to act and provide advice on your behalf.
5. Make space for member activity
While being active is really important, your activity in your community shouldn’t take over from other members’ activities. To encourage more engagement, leave space for your members to get involved.
Try to hold back on answering questions in the group and let other members take the lead. Unless the answer is directed specifically at you, let your community answer first. Then you can come in later and confirm their answers or add clarity. Taking a back seat is the key to encouraging more engagement and building a self-sustaining, supportive community.
6. Reward participation in the community
One of the best tactics for encouraging more community engagement is to reward active members and incentivize other members to engage more. There are a lot of ways to do this and the one you choose will depend on your products, your brand and the overall aims of your group.
Here are some ideas you might like to try:
- Acknowledge top members: Give a public shoutout to members who are the most helpful or who are particularly thoughtful or knowledgeable, this personal touch can help your members feel special.
- Give the most active members special privileges: You could raise the status of your top group members by making them moderators or mentors of new members.
- Set up a points system: You could also set up member rewards where community members get points or tokens every time they engage with other members, adding up to gifts, merchandise or discounts on your products.
There are loads of ways to reward participation in your community. Consider adding this community engagement idea to your strategy to boost group activity and encourage more brand loyalty.
7. Publicize member milestones
Another community engagement strategy based on the idea of supporting your members is to create a system for marking milestones.
If your community is built around your course or academy, why not start doing shoutouts to recent graduates? If you have multiple courses, you could try creating a tier system with bronze, silver and gold levels that each have their own public announcements in your community space. When someone hits a milestone, you post about their achievement. This system is customizable to your course and brand personality – assign graduate animals, numbers, food groups or anything else!
You can also set up milestones for other important events like reaching business goals for entrepreneurs or learning new skills. The opportunities for positive engagement are endless!
8. Encourage questions
For any community to be effective, it needs a steady stream of questions and answers to keep the conversation – and engagement – flowing. If you can encourage people to ask questions in your group, you open up the opportunity for even inexperienced members to engage with others.
While some users might be hesitant about answering a question or weighing in on a debate, especially if they’re new to the topic, they’ll probably be comfortable posing a question to the community. Make it clear that asking questions is encouraged in your community and doesn’t just have to be limited to moderators to help encourage more engagement.
9. Repost member content
Members love to feel special! One way to do this is to repost member content in your community group.
This is especially nice for sharing member wins and celebrating successes. If a member of your community shares something awesome that’s happened to them — especially in relation to your products — share this in the group.
It’s a brilliant community engagement strategy and it’s a nice bit of free advertising for your brand too!
10. Offer badges
Why not try setting up a badge system in your community?
When it comes to community engagement ideas, this one is really easy to do. The most active members of your community get a ‘top contributor’ badge to highlight their hard work and encourage others to do the same!
Here are some other badge ideas:
- Idea generator
- Top conversation starter
- Great answers
- Most helpful
The idea is to create badges that will reward your most active community members. Choose the badges that are most relevant to your brand and fit with your unique brand personality.
11. Remove inactive members
You might also like to consider adding rules for inactivity into your community too. This includes removing members who don’t post, engage with other members or participate at all in your group within a certain time period.
It’s normal for people to sign up to a community and then gradually drift away if it stops being relevant to them. It would be great if every member was super engaged and interested but in reality, people’s priorities shift over time.
While you’ll want to be careful with this community engagement strategy, creating rules for activity can be helpful to make sure that you only have community members who genuinely want to be a part of your group.
It might make your community smaller, but it can also help your community to feel more intimate and close-knit, helping to boost engagement even more. Sometimes it’s more about quality than quantity!
12. Create private groups and sub-communities
Within every community there are sub-communities. Imagine them like cliques in a classroom. People naturally gravitate towards others, creating smaller groups of members with similar interests, outlooks or ambitions.
In your community engagement strategy, don’t ignore these smaller groups and sub-communities – encourage them! You can do this through the use of private groups.
With the Thinkific Community tools, it’s now easy to create sub-communities with Spaces. Think of them like virtual rooms within your bigger community. Find out more about it here.
13. Set up a coaching scheme
If you really want to reward the most active members, you could also create a coaching scheme as part of your long-term community engagement strategy.
Give loyal customers and course graduates the chance to become a coach for new members – they act as mentors in your community and can even have the chance to create their own communities built on your products.
Encourage them to share product demos, tutorials and testimonials of their own experience using your products. Your existing customers are your best asset for marketing your brand so why not use them!
Check out this case study to see how one successful Thinkific course creator used coaches to promote her brand and build her global community.
14. Offer referral benefits
Looking to add more members to your community? Ask for referrals!
Encourage your existing members to refer new members and share the group with their network. Add incentives like a small discount on your products or extra community points (see idea number 6).
With this community engagement strategy, you can utilize your existing community members to generate new leads and publicize your community. Adding benefits is a sure way to boost engagement.
15. Provide downloadable resources
Give your community members the chance to access exclusive resources and content to increase community engagement quickly.
You can use this community engagement strategy to encourage existing members to stay members and get sign-ups from new members. Resources are a great way to demonstrate the value of being in your community in a tangible, usable way.
Here are some ideas for useful resources:
- Spreadsheet templates
The right resources for your community will depend on your niche. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that will be genuinely useful to your community members. You can also use resources like these as lead magnets.
16. Consider brand merchandise
If you want to go old school, you could produce brand merchandise. Community-exclusive merch is a great way to boost the cliquey feel of your community – only those in the know can get their hands on your merchandise.
Branded merchandise is a really effective way to make a collection of members feel like a tribe. You can also use this community engagement idea as part of your rewards system for community members – users collect points and they can use their points to ‘buy’ merchandise. The bigger items cost more points, giving members even more of an incentive to be active in the community!
Need some merchandise ideas? Try these:
- Water bottles
There are no limits to what you can turn into branded merchandise for your community. It’s a good idea to start small and work up to more items once you’ve tested how this community engagement strategy plays out for your brand.
17. Invite podcast guests
Do you have a podcast? Invite community members to be your guests!
This community engagement idea has a few different benefits – active members of your community get rewarded for their work and you get to show off your best customer success stories! Think of it as a live testimonial for your products.
Your community members will all have their own areas of expertise and knowledge too. You might have an expert hidden in the ranks of your community that can be an interesting and inspiring guest.
To use this community engagement idea, encourage your community members to introduce themselves and give some details on their background, then you can message the ones who sound like a good fit!
Pro tip: if you don’t have a podcast, you can still use this community engagement strategy for creating blog posts, newsletters or case studies of your members. It’s worth getting to know your community inside out.
18. Find partnerships
The secret to marketing your brand better is through partnerships – and community engagement is no different. If you want to generate a buzz in your community, find relevant brands to partner with.
Why does this community engagement strategy work? Partnerships give you the chance to tap into a new audience and draw more people to your community. When your partners post about your business or your product, you get exposure to a whole new network of potential customers. If you can find partners who are bigger and more established than you – even better!
Partnerships are also fun for your existing community members as they’ll benefit from new opportunities, expertise and information generated through your connections.
19. Utilize micro-influencers
You can also consider partnerships with influencers.
When it comes to using influencer marketing as part of your community engagement strategy, there are some things you need to bear in mind. Look for micro-influencers who have a genuine interest in your products and are knowledgeable and respected in their chosen field. These influencers will be far more effective for community engagement than big names who only post content that promotes other brands.
You can even find micro-influencers within your own community who have built up a reputation for being helpful, engaged members. Try asking them to test a product and post a video review as a method to increase community engagement organically.
20. Set community challenges and themes
A really fun and effective way to increase community engagement is to set challenges for your community members. You can do this on a quarterly, monthly, or weekly basis. Think of challenges that will help to increase your members’ sense of achievement and encourage collaboration.
Remember to celebrate and reward the users who complete the challenge correctly or in the allotted time frame and repost any user generated content (UGC) related to your challenge.
You can also use weekly or even daily themes to encourage members to post and share their content. The Thinkific community has Welcome Wednesday where new members introduce themselves and Flaunt-it-Fridays where people can share their wins. This is a really effective way to start discussions in your group.
21. Host an ask me anything
If you’re looking to boost your community engagement fast, try hosting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session.
Set a time frame for your AMA, ask your community members to post their questions in your community space and answer the questions!
You can also invite thought leaders and industry experts to do AMAs in your community to give your members a chance to pick their brains and learn.
22. Try a Live Q&A
As well as hosting a traditional AMA, you might also like to host a live session. Use a live streaming service like Instagram live to do a real-time Q&A session with your community. This can give your community members a more personal experience – people love to see a friendly face!
Choose a host who is confident in front of the camera and good at thinking on their feet. It could be you or one of your team, but whoever it is they need to know your products, your niche and your members’ needs through and through.
23. Organize webinar events
When it comes to community engagement events, webinars are a really valuable strategy to have up your sleeve. While they can take more preparation than the other ideas in this list, they can also be the most effective way to promote your brand, your products, and your community.
Webinars are a great space for doing deep dives into topics that are relevant to your audience. You might like to try hosting a Product Therapy session where you address common pain points for customers surrounding your products and answer some key FAQs. You could also do new product demos and tutorials.
For more help on creating your own webinar, check out this free template.
24. Offer one-to-one coaching sessions
If you want to give your community members something really special – try offering exclusive one-to-one coaching sessions. You might like to use these as part of your benefits system for the most active members, or you can organize it on a first come first serve basis.
Set up your virtual office hours and give members the chance to sign up for an exclusive coaching session. It’s a chance for your community to pick your brains and a great opportunity for you to cement your status as an expert within your community.
25. Run competitions
One of the most adaptable community engagement ideas you can use is competitions. There are endless ways to personalize competitions for your brand or your products. Choose the format that works best for your community!
Here are some cool ideas to get inspired:
- Get community members to customize your brand logo
- Run a scavenger hunt with different clues hidden in a series of posts
- Post a quiz or trivia challenge
Competitions incentivize your community members to engage in your group, increasing activity and communication between members. Use this idea as part of your wider community engagement strategy to add some fun and friendly competitiveness to your group. Why not encourage community members to set up their own competitions too?
26. Try giveaways
A really easy way to increase engagement in your community is to post a giveaway. Ask members to repost your content and tag a friend or follower to be in with a chance to win. This instantly increases exposure for your brand and gets other people excited about your offer!
This community engagement strategy is best used sparingly to avoid devaluing your products but it’s a great option if you’re looking for more community engagement ideas to shake things up. Make sure to do a limited-time offer to increase the FOMO feeling.
27. Do a flash sale
If you’re looking to get a lot of engagement in a short period of time, try a flash sale. There’s nothing like a sale to get people excited!
To make the most of this community engagement idea, it’s a good idea to carefully plan out your content leading up to the event. Build up anticipation for your sale by creating a series of posts counting down to the big day. Make sure you keep posting to let your community know how much time they’ve got left too.
For more help with this community engagement strategy, check out Neil Patel’s free Webinar Sales funnel course for templates, a content calendar and more.
28. Post early bird offers
Help your community members feel special by giving them early bird offers and exclusive access to new products. This method is ideal for increasing your pre-sales, while also giving your community members something to get excited about.
29. Run polls
Want to encourage your community to engage with a topic or question? Post a poll.
Polls are super clickable. They take less than a second to complete, they get your community members thinking about a problem, and they give you feedback on the opinions and views of your group. Get polling!
30. Ask for surveys
Like polls, surveys are a really effective community engagement strategy. They’re your secret weapon for collecting feedback from your community members on what’s working and what isn’t in your brand. You can even run surveys for feedback on your community too.
Surveys give your community members the chance to have their say. They help members feel more involved in your brand and the process of refining your products. For any business owner, having access to quality feedback is also a huge asset, giving you the chance to continuously adapt and improve your offering for your target audience.
31. Put on virtual coffee mornings
If you’re looking for a way to make your community feel more like a community, try hosting virtual coffee mornings. Sitting down to chat over a coffee, even if it’s virtual, can make a group of strangers suddenly feel like friends.
This community engagement strategy can have long-term effects on your community, generating a feeling of camaraderie that could otherwise take months to build. Of course, if your community is based around a specific location then you can organize in-person coffee mornings too! Better yet, try to encourage your community members to arrange their own and connect in real life.
32. Publicize seasonal events and celebrations
Stuck for content? Use seasonal events and celebrations as a way to make your content more varied, relevant and fun! Why not run a seasonal best photo competition or a holiday giveaway?
These community engagement ideas are all designed to increase engagement in your group and encourage more members to interact and collaborate. They’re fun but they’re also really effective. Choose your favorite community engagement strategy and give it a go.
With these community engagement ideas, you can start building your own community engagement strategy. Don’t be afraid to stay flexible and adapt your strategy once you start to see what’s working and what isn’t.
This article was originally published Apr, 2022 and was updated Jul, 2022 to be even more useful!