I talked about why it’s important for you to build an online community for your brand. But how do you do it in such a way that your community members will grow and stay engaged over time? It’s one thing to get someone’s attention, but it’s another if you plan to keep it with all of the noise going on around them.

If you’re looking for ways to build an engaged online community for your brand, here is how you should do it.

Lead by example

As the community host you set the tone for your audience, which means you should lead by example. Show that you don’t just talk the talk by actually living by your company values and ethics. You should also encourage your audience to interact with each other so you can have lively dialogue.

Make it easy

There are many ways you can make it easy for your audience when it comes to keeping an engaged online community. First, make sure you are easy to find. Keep the branding consistent across multiple channels/entry-points and create ways for people to get to you – have links on your website and integrate your community into your social channels. Having a consistent presence within the community is also key. Again, it goes back to you setting the tone for the level of engagement – including welcoming new members into the community.

Engage as your brand

Whether you have a team of individuals who monitor and interact with the community or it’s just one person, it’s important to engage in lively dialogue with others as a brand representative. It humanizes your brand. One way to think of it is that your online community is part of your daily customer experience.

Be relevant and inspiring

If real estate is all about location location location, then your online community would be about content content content. And trust me, you can definitely tell if you don’t have a content strategy in place. Be sure that your content supports your community objectives – and a little exclusive content never hurt anyone either. Be interesting and try to generate dialogue through questions and a perhaps even some controversial topics.

Reward loyalty

You will always have the core group of members who are hyper-engaged with you and are constantly sharing your content. Find ways to feature them or shout them out to the rest of the members.

Embrace User-Generated Content

User-generated content is a great way for you to diversify the content you are putting out in your online community. Having members submit content shows that you are interested in what they have to say – and it’s always good to listen to what your audience has to say. You can easily encourage content sharing by setting up contests and giveaways to reward members who share content.

Look at what others are doing

Copying someone’s idea outright and taking credit for it is wrong, however, it’s great to be inspired by what others are doing! Be sure to track your competition or brands from other industries to see how they are running an engaged online community to find ideas to make your own.

Having an engaged online community is integral to any brand. It means that you are able to make a meaningful connection with your audience, which leads to customer loyalty and a general transparency in all of your brand relationships.

Originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications Blog.