Divya Haritwal

Community Building
Growth
Retention
January 10, 2024

Divya Haritwal

January 10, 2024
Community Building
Growth
Retention

Creating Growth and Retention Loops with Community Engagement: An In-Depth Analysis

In the digital age, communities have become crucial for fostering brand loyalty, user engagement, and sustainable growth. While there is no one-size-fits-all, for building communities and relationships with the users, it is becoming clearer with time that fostering long-term relationships is key to increasing the lifetime value of a user and communities are at the centre of it.

This in-depth guide explores strategies to attract and retain community members, focusing on practices that encourage ongoing participation and loyalty. We’ll focus on key themes such as understanding the stage at which communities can most value to the business, selecting an appropriate platform according to the needs, and how to conduct and evaluate experiments to understand the success of the growth and retention loops you are trying to create with community engagement. Let’s get started…

Identifying the Ideal Placement of the Community

Selecting the right digital environment for your community is pivotal and should be informed by a deep understanding of your target audience’s preferences and behaviors. If your audience is primarily professionals, LinkedIn or Slack might be more suitable than Instagram or TikTok.

Richard Millington, the founder of FeverBee, highlights the importance of understanding your audience's online habits in his article, which is focused on "Adapting to user preference and how to benefit from them”. He highlights how it is easier to encourage user-generated content in customer success communities and utilizing the expertise of users to create a content generation machine.

Example: Suppose you're launching a community for freelance graphic designers. Given their visual-centric profession, platforms like Instagram or a dedicated Discord server with channels for different design topics might be more engaging than a traditional forum.

A key element here to understand is that starting at the place where your users already exist is the most efficient way to get initial traction and insights into the user's needs and preferences. With scale, you may need to migrate for a variety of reasons including better features, cost efficiency, and enabling more efficient ways of customer success.

Identifying Platforms for Getting Started

After pinpointing where your community should live, the next step is selecting the right platform. Each platform, be it Facebook, Telegram, WhatsApp Groups, Discord, or even customizable white-label solutions such as LikeMinds, offers unique features.

Real-Life Example: OnePlus is one of the biggest examples of implementing a community-led growth and retention strategy. For the longest time, they maintained the invite-only status creating a fine balance of exclusivity and familiarity. This is one of the reasons why we encourage a Community-Led Way of growth and retention.

Design and Launch Community

The design and launch phase sets the tone, establishes rules, and seeds initial content. David Spinks outlines the necessity of starting with a core group of engaged members in "How to Launch a Community".

Let’s understand this with a hypothetical scenario: Imagine launching a community for indie game developers. Start by inviting a small group of developers to share their projects and challenges. This core group can ignite discussions and attract more members through word-of-mouth. The community can start on a platform familiar to gamers i.e. Discord and then as it scales, the users/buyers of your gaming platform can also join in. Conversations around cheat codes and what power-ups to buy will feed into the retention and growth loops respectively as they help in increasing interest in the game as well as the paid features, all rooted in the community’s collective interest and feedback of the said game.

Scaling and Reducing

Managing a growing community presents challenges in maintaining interaction quality. David Spinks discusses strategies for scaling your community while preserving its core values in "Scaling Community without Losing the Soul". Decentralizing community management can be effective.

This is also the time to build a community flywheel. The Community Flywheel, akin to its business counterpart, is a dynamic model that is built by keeping the basic, most essential elements of a business flywheel in mind i.e. attract, engage, delight. It involves the users in the process of building brand communities creating brand loyalists and advocates in the process.

Example: Reddit’s subreddit communities are managed by volunteer moderators who oversee specific interest areas, allowing for scalable yet managed growth.

Focusing on scaling as well as reducing allows you to focus and devote the resources only to the initiatives that the community of your users want to see, not what you believe may be good. The whole approach is rooted in data-led insights and tracking engagement metrics of various initiatives to understand user feedback more efficiently.

Incentivize

Incentivizing members is crucial for engagement. In his article "Motivating Members in Your Online Community", Richard Millington explores various motivational theories applicable to online communities.

Real-Life Example: Duolingo’s community uses gamification effectively by incentivizing users through points and levels for participating in language learning exercises, creating a highly engaged and competitive environment.

Productize

While the most diplomatic and seemingly obvious answer is to productize your community to boost your growth and go-to-market strategy, there is no standard way to do it either. There are, however, ways to bring the product-building approach to the community.

Community managers need to come up with creative ways to track and measure the effectiveness as well as the demand and utility of their community for the end user.

Hypothetical Example: For a community centered around digital marketing, consider offering premium webinars or exclusive content for a subscription fee. This approach adds value while generating revenue.

Analyze

Regularly assessing community health through engagement levels and activity patterns is essential.

Example: LinkedIn groups often use analytics to understand post engagements and active member rates, helping moderators curate more relevant content and discussions.

Extending the Community's Reach

Once the community is thriving, exploring partnerships can further enhance its value. Collaborating with influencers, industry leaders, or related brands can introduce new dynamics and perspectives.

Example: A community focused on sustainable living might partner with environmental influencers or eco-friendly brands for exclusive content or joint events, enhancing the community's appeal and resources.

Community as a Feedback Loop

Leveraging your community as a feedback mechanism can be invaluable for product development or service improvement. Encourage members to share their experiences and suggestions, and demonstrate that their feedback leads to tangible changes.

Real-Life Example: Adobe’s user forums have been instrumental in shaping software updates and bug fixes. User feedback posted in these forums often translates into software updates, showing the community's direct impact on the product.

Building a Culture within the Community

The culture of your community can be a significant retention tool. Establish traditions, regular events, or rituals that members look forward to. These could range from weekly discussion threads to annual meet-ups.

Hypothetical Scenario: A community for yoga enthusiasts could host weekly virtual yoga challenges, encouraging members to share their routines and progress, fostering a sense of belonging and shared journey.

Nurturing Community Leaders

Identify and nurture potential leaders within your community. Empowering active members to take on leadership roles can foster a sense of ownership and ensure the community's sustainability.

Example: GitHub encourages its most active contributors by giving them special recognition and privileges, like early access to new features. These members often become community advocates and unofficial mentors to new users.

Conclusion

Building and nurturing an online community is a multifaceted and ongoing endeavour. It requires understanding your audience, strategically choosing and using platforms, thoughtful community design, scalable management, incentivization, potential monetization, and continuous analysis and adaptation. By integrating expert insights and real-life examples, this guide provides a comprehensive roadmap for anyone looking to harness the power of community engagement for growth and retention.

Remember, a successful community isn't just about numbers; it's about engagement, relationships, and shared value. It's about creating an environment where members feel valued, heard, and motivated to contribute, ensuring the community's vibrancy and longevity.

About LikeMinds:

Done with experimenting and testing your community-building efforts? If you are ready to scale and bring the community within your app, instead of relying on 3rd party platforms, we are here to help you integrate community features in your app in just 15 minutes!!

LikeMinds elevates businesses in unlocking the true potential of their users through their in-app community and social network. Using LikeMinds, businesses achieve higher conversion and retention, by building custom community experiences in their existing platform unlocking community-led growth.

With LikeMinds, businesses get an easy-to-implement and highly scalable infrastructure with a fully customizable UI. All of this with a customization time of 3 days and a deployment time of 15 minutes.

Our Chat and Feed infra have pre-built widgets such as image carousels, PDF slides, short videos, polls, quizzes, events, forms, and more for user engagement and retention along with moderation capabilities to ensure frictionless community operations.

Supercharge your retention with in-app social features

Deploy customised features on top of chat and feed in 15 minutes using LikeMinds SDK.

Let's start!

Share now

Supercharge your retention with in-app social features

Deploy customised features on top of chat and feed in 15 minutes using LikeMinds SDK.

Let's start!

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Community Building

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Creating Growth and Retention Loops with Community Engagement: An In-Depth Analysis

Divya Haritwal
/
January 10, 2024
/

In the digital age, communities have become crucial for fostering brand loyalty, user engagement, and sustainable growth. While there is no one-size-fits-all, for building communities and relationships with the users, it is becoming clearer with time that fostering long-term relationships is key to increasing the lifetime value of a user and communities are at the centre of it.

This in-depth guide explores strategies to attract and retain community members, focusing on practices that encourage ongoing participation and loyalty. We’ll focus on key themes such as understanding the stage at which communities can most value to the business, selecting an appropriate platform according to the needs, and how to conduct and evaluate experiments to understand the success of the growth and retention loops you are trying to create with community engagement. Let’s get started…

Identifying the Ideal Placement of the Community

Selecting the right digital environment for your community is pivotal and should be informed by a deep understanding of your target audience’s preferences and behaviors. If your audience is primarily professionals, LinkedIn or Slack might be more suitable than Instagram or TikTok.

Richard Millington, the founder of FeverBee, highlights the importance of understanding your audience's online habits in his article, which is focused on "Adapting to user preference and how to benefit from them”. He highlights how it is easier to encourage user-generated content in customer success communities and utilizing the expertise of users to create a content generation machine.

Example: Suppose you're launching a community for freelance graphic designers. Given their visual-centric profession, platforms like Instagram or a dedicated Discord server with channels for different design topics might be more engaging than a traditional forum.

A key element here to understand is that starting at the place where your users already exist is the most efficient way to get initial traction and insights into the user's needs and preferences. With scale, you may need to migrate for a variety of reasons including better features, cost efficiency, and enabling more efficient ways of customer success.

Identifying Platforms for Getting Started

After pinpointing where your community should live, the next step is selecting the right platform. Each platform, be it Facebook, Telegram, WhatsApp Groups, Discord, or even customizable white-label solutions such as LikeMinds, offers unique features.

Real-Life Example: OnePlus is one of the biggest examples of implementing a community-led growth and retention strategy. For the longest time, they maintained the invite-only status creating a fine balance of exclusivity and familiarity. This is one of the reasons why we encourage a Community-Led Way of growth and retention.

Design and Launch Community

The design and launch phase sets the tone, establishes rules, and seeds initial content. David Spinks outlines the necessity of starting with a core group of engaged members in "How to Launch a Community".

Let’s understand this with a hypothetical scenario: Imagine launching a community for indie game developers. Start by inviting a small group of developers to share their projects and challenges. This core group can ignite discussions and attract more members through word-of-mouth. The community can start on a platform familiar to gamers i.e. Discord and then as it scales, the users/buyers of your gaming platform can also join in. Conversations around cheat codes and what power-ups to buy will feed into the retention and growth loops respectively as they help in increasing interest in the game as well as the paid features, all rooted in the community’s collective interest and feedback of the said game.

Scaling and Reducing

Managing a growing community presents challenges in maintaining interaction quality. David Spinks discusses strategies for scaling your community while preserving its core values in "Scaling Community without Losing the Soul". Decentralizing community management can be effective.

This is also the time to build a community flywheel. The Community Flywheel, akin to its business counterpart, is a dynamic model that is built by keeping the basic, most essential elements of a business flywheel in mind i.e. attract, engage, delight. It involves the users in the process of building brand communities creating brand loyalists and advocates in the process.

Example: Reddit’s subreddit communities are managed by volunteer moderators who oversee specific interest areas, allowing for scalable yet managed growth.

Focusing on scaling as well as reducing allows you to focus and devote the resources only to the initiatives that the community of your users want to see, not what you believe may be good. The whole approach is rooted in data-led insights and tracking engagement metrics of various initiatives to understand user feedback more efficiently.

Incentivize

Incentivizing members is crucial for engagement. In his article "Motivating Members in Your Online Community", Richard Millington explores various motivational theories applicable to online communities.

Real-Life Example: Duolingo’s community uses gamification effectively by incentivizing users through points and levels for participating in language learning exercises, creating a highly engaged and competitive environment.

Productize

While the most diplomatic and seemingly obvious answer is to productize your community to boost your growth and go-to-market strategy, there is no standard way to do it either. There are, however, ways to bring the product-building approach to the community.

Community managers need to come up with creative ways to track and measure the effectiveness as well as the demand and utility of their community for the end user.

Hypothetical Example: For a community centered around digital marketing, consider offering premium webinars or exclusive content for a subscription fee. This approach adds value while generating revenue.

Analyze

Regularly assessing community health through engagement levels and activity patterns is essential.

Example: LinkedIn groups often use analytics to understand post engagements and active member rates, helping moderators curate more relevant content and discussions.

Extending the Community's Reach

Once the community is thriving, exploring partnerships can further enhance its value. Collaborating with influencers, industry leaders, or related brands can introduce new dynamics and perspectives.

Example: A community focused on sustainable living might partner with environmental influencers or eco-friendly brands for exclusive content or joint events, enhancing the community's appeal and resources.

Community as a Feedback Loop

Leveraging your community as a feedback mechanism can be invaluable for product development or service improvement. Encourage members to share their experiences and suggestions, and demonstrate that their feedback leads to tangible changes.

Real-Life Example: Adobe’s user forums have been instrumental in shaping software updates and bug fixes. User feedback posted in these forums often translates into software updates, showing the community's direct impact on the product.

Building a Culture within the Community

The culture of your community can be a significant retention tool. Establish traditions, regular events, or rituals that members look forward to. These could range from weekly discussion threads to annual meet-ups.

Hypothetical Scenario: A community for yoga enthusiasts could host weekly virtual yoga challenges, encouraging members to share their routines and progress, fostering a sense of belonging and shared journey.

Nurturing Community Leaders

Identify and nurture potential leaders within your community. Empowering active members to take on leadership roles can foster a sense of ownership and ensure the community's sustainability.

Example: GitHub encourages its most active contributors by giving them special recognition and privileges, like early access to new features. These members often become community advocates and unofficial mentors to new users.

Conclusion

Building and nurturing an online community is a multifaceted and ongoing endeavour. It requires understanding your audience, strategically choosing and using platforms, thoughtful community design, scalable management, incentivization, potential monetization, and continuous analysis and adaptation. By integrating expert insights and real-life examples, this guide provides a comprehensive roadmap for anyone looking to harness the power of community engagement for growth and retention.

Remember, a successful community isn't just about numbers; it's about engagement, relationships, and shared value. It's about creating an environment where members feel valued, heard, and motivated to contribute, ensuring the community's vibrancy and longevity.

About LikeMinds:

Done with experimenting and testing your community-building efforts? If you are ready to scale and bring the community within your app, instead of relying on 3rd party platforms, we are here to help you integrate community features in your app in just 15 minutes!!

LikeMinds elevates businesses in unlocking the true potential of their users through their in-app community and social network. Using LikeMinds, businesses achieve higher conversion and retention, by building custom community experiences in their existing platform unlocking community-led growth.

With LikeMinds, businesses get an easy-to-implement and highly scalable infrastructure with a fully customizable UI. All of this with a customization time of 3 days and a deployment time of 15 minutes.

Our Chat and Feed infra have pre-built widgets such as image carousels, PDF slides, short videos, polls, quizzes, events, forms, and more for user engagement and retention along with moderation capabilities to ensure frictionless community operations.

Supercharge your retention with in-app social features

Deploy customised features on top of chat and feed in 15 minutes using LikeMinds SDK.

Let's start!