10 Tips for Building a Successful Online Community

As the Internet grows exponentially, online communities hold a critical role both in our work and personal lives. According to The Era of We, a study conducted by Global Web Index and Reddit in 2019, an astonishing 76% of global internet users engage with online forums, blogs, and vlogs.

There are several reasons why joining a community can be so fulfilling.

The Best Reasons to Join an Online Community

  • Meaningful connections with peers

    Online communities give people the ability to foster relationships with peers and connect with people with similar interests. These connections become increasingly important as we spend more of our time online. By building these bonds, people can find supportive and genuine social spaces within the Internet.

  • Access to critical information

    The growth of online communities extends beyond the reach of our personal lives. More people use online communities to conduct work-related research and discover critical product updates.

  • Opportunities to learn

    With helpful articles and open lines of communication with peers, online communities give people a unique ability to learn more about specific products, industries, or interests. Communities also enable people to connect with experts and ask questions. For example, the Automox Community enables members to ask about anything – from basic installation questions to advanced Worklet deployments and critical cybersecurity news.

  • Enjoyable and engaging content

    Driven by the members and managers, communities can drive a unique mix of informative and entertaining content. The content shared within a community can generate interesting discussions and provide an avenue for thoughts to grow. (PS: We have an incredible pets thread if you ever need a pick-me-up or want to contribute to the Pets of Automox.)

Odds are, many of you reading this might be interested in creating or growing your own online community. But with the number of communities, websites, and platforms increasing daily, you have to ask, “How can our community bring something unique to the table? What will we give to our members they wouldn’t find elsewhere?”

As a Community Manager here at Automox, that is a question that’s always on my mind. We’re always thinking about what makes the Automox Community a special place. How can we continue to provide a unique, helpful, and fun experience to our customers and prospective community members?

Whether you’re just starting your journey or have an established group of engaged members, here are some community management tips that I’ve learned throughout the years.

10 Tips for Building a Successful Online Community

  1. Create your community vision
    A community vision provides you with a guiding light along your journey. For example, the Automox Community vision is to provide a collaborative forum with helpful content and opportunities to learn more about Automox, ITOps, SecOps, and more. This vision helps us put purpose to all of our actions within the forum.

  2. Set measurable goals
    It’s important to distinguish between your community vision and your goals. While your vision is a broader idea of your community strategy, your goals will include specific measures of success. These KPIs (key performance indicators) should be relevant to your organization’s goals. For communities just starting their journey, you may prioritize member growth, while more established communities might have a greater focus on member engagement. Whatever your goals may be, establish baseline metrics and consistently measure them. As you continue to manage your community, make tweaks and see how they impact your performance.

  3. Invest in a reliable community platform
    A community is only as valuable as the platform on which it lives. After you have your vision set, think about how the organization of the community could help you achieve that vision. Is there a focus on collaborative conversations? Do you want to emphasize content created by your community team? These questions will help you determine the platform you use.

  4. Consider your ideal user base
    It’s important to think about who makes up your potential user base as they’ll drive your content, promotion, rules, and more. If you’re part of a company, does your community include only customers? Are you leaving your community open to the public? Which industries are you targeting? Make sure to coordinate with stakeholders from around the company to get thoughts on your organization’s ideal user base.

  5. Create a promotion strategy
    With your ideal user base identified, you can start to target prospective members. For those of you targeting customers and prospects, consider sending an email highlighting features of your community and exciting content from the community itself. To drive organic traffic, note how SEO may impact how your content is shown to people in search. Email campaigns, ad campaigns, SEO improvements, social media shares, and networking are all helpful tools in activating prospective members.

  6. Set community rules and guidelines
    As you attract more members, it’s essential to set some basic rules and guidelines as they engage in conversations. These rules will help define the culture within your community. Include basic community etiquette and any industry-specific constraints (i.e., limitations regarding sharing personal information). You can also set specific enforcement policies on severity, from a three-strike rule to an immediate ban. Rules help keep your community a safe space for everyone. If you need a place to start, you can check out our community rules here.

  7. Think about your content strategy
    Because communities constantly ebb and flow, it’s essential to develop a consistent content strategy. We create a monthly content calendar filled with posts for our team to ensure that there’s always something brewing in the Automox Community. This mix of organic conversations with a regular cadence of content provides community members with a breadth of information with which they can engage. As you set up your content strategy, consider how these posts align with your community vision.

  8. Develop your gamification system
    From points to badges, there are plenty of opportunities to add gamification to your community platform. With these features, you can encourage members to participate regularly and even offer rewards to those at specific ranks. Badges give people a way to display their expertise to the community and drive a feeling of accomplishment. Providing a ranking system allows community members to be part of an exclusive group, which brings me to my next point…

  9. Consider a Super User program
    A Super User program is a great way to create an entire group of highly active community members. These groups allow you to give back to those engaged individuals through special giveaways, exclusive content, etc. Plus, as your most active group of community members, Super Users can be a great sounding board for user research and projects. Many Super Users can also be great customer advocates.

  10. Always encourage community feedback
    A thriving community always listens to its members' input. Have regular check-ins with your members to take the pulse of your community. Take any constructive feedback and bring it into every part of your community strategy. By opening that line of communication, community members will feel more valued, fostering more quality relationships.

Make Your Community Yours – and Theirs

When it comes to community management, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Each community is unique in its own way; you just have to know how to showcase your special attributes. These tips are a great start. They helped us drive a healthy, growing community and we hope they’ll help you, too.

If you want to learn more about the Automox Community, join our upcoming webinar on March 31st. You’ll discover the benefits of joining our community, get a detailed tour, and get a chance to win a few prizes! Sign up for the webinar here.

And of course, you can check out our community at community.automox.com and contact community@automox.com with any questions. We hope to see you around the Community soon!


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