Growing your community begins with reaching out to those who do not yet know about your community. You must begin by spreading the word about your community and making sure that people who can benefit from your community's content will be able to find it quickly and with as little hassle as possible.
In other words, you must begin by asking: how do I make potential members aware of my community and convince them that they can gain from signing up? This should be done by reaching out using different channels and through different messages.
Why different channels?
Not every individual you are trying to target uses the same channel(s). In fact, we know that people actually tend to have a preference for a certain channel. Some are more active on Facebook and go to your company Facebook-page, others use Instagram, yet another group will go to your company homepage, and many others use Google to find directly what they are looking for. This is why it using different channels to reach out to people is crucial for your long term acquisition. Keep in mind too that search engines are also indirect channels that will help you grow your community. This means that creating content that search engines love should also be seen as part of your long term acquisition efforts.
Why different messages?
One of the things we have learned about community traffic is that the source of such traffic matters. For instance, traffic coming through social media tends to have lower bounce rates than traffic coming from organic searches, and traffic coming from website integrations tends to have longer times on site. This tells us that there is a relationship between channel use and motivations, and people that visit your Facebook-page have other motivations than those who visit your company website or from those you have targeted through a newsletter. This, fortunately, does not mean that you need to create different messages for each person you want to target. Community growth does not require personalized messages, but simply a few variations based on what we know are the 3 basic motivations for people to visit and join your community:
- Functional motivation
- Self-efficacy and Belonging
The first is functional motivation, which is the most common reason for people to visit your community. Functional motivation means that individuals are motivated by their need for relevant information, such as support or reviews and customer opinions on your products and services. People in this category set are therefore looking for a personal and practical gain and see in your community the perfect way to do so.
Self efficacy and Belonging
Next to those looking for practical gain are those that have a motivation to participate. They want to participate because they consider themselves experts on your products or services. This motivation is called self-efficacy. For example, someone with high self-efficacy about iPhones or mobile phones in general, is someone who strongly believes can tell me everything about configuring and optimizing my iPhone. Self-efficacy is a sign of confidence about the knowledge I have and confidence in that such knowledge can benefit others.
Lastly, people can also be motivated by a sense of belonging. This means that people are motivated because they want to meet and engage with peers that have similar interests or experiences. This category set is often related to the emotional connection that people can have with your brand. For example, a big fan of Nike that loves their Just do it! slogan, because they feel it characterizes their own attitude or personality, will identify with Nike as a brand. In this case their choice to join the Nike community would be that they expect to find there people who share that same attachment to the brand and that same Just do it! attitude. In other words they feel that they belong to that community, because they expect to find people who share the same interests and experiences as they do.Now, you know how to reach out to potential new members. This was just step 1 in a successful acquisition strategy. Continue reading about step 2: Connecting!