As your community matures, recruiting active community members to become co-community managers can help increase activity in your community, get better performing (user-generated) content, and ultimately boost your membership levels. Having others, from within the community, manage and monitor the community will help you increase your reach.
The best people to help you drive engagement on your platform are members who really drive the conversation. They are most commonly referred to as ‘influencers’.
How to find your influencers
There are different ways to detect influencers. This will also depend on whether you are running a community that’s based on an existing offline community or creating a community from scratch. Think of:
People within your (existing, offline) organization who are experts in an area and could take the lead in this are within your community.
- Highly active members
- Members who have a passion for certain topics.
- Members with great people skills (motivators, coaching, etc).
How can your influencers help you?
- They can create content for you related to their area of expertise.
- They can manage (one of the) local groups.
- They can welcome new users to your community and help them with the onboarding process.
- They can help you organize on- or offline meetups.
- They can help you moderate discussions (make sure discussions stay active and monitor any potential misbehavior)
TIP: You may ask influencers to help you monitor and moderate discussions, but it’s best not to give them rights beyond that. The decision to remove offensive content should be limited to people within your organisation. Assigning these rights to anyone else may cause friction within your community.
Take your time to find your influencers
Just like community management, finding influencers and building a relationship with them takes time.
The first influencer should be you! Especially in the early stages of community building, you should try to actively engage in all discussions, drive the conversation forward, and build a rapport with as members as possible. If your users see how invested you are in your community and the sincere interest you have in them, they are more likely to trust and respect you and begin to contribute themselves.
It’s important to get to know your community members properly. Your goal is not to go through all of them to find your influencer, but to build relationships with everyone so they feel welcome, wanted, and heard.
TIP: Asking community members for an interview is also a way to build relationships.
Getting to know your community members will activate your community and give you an idea of who your influencers are. Once your relationship with an individual user feels solid you can then ask them for help, information, or input as listed above. You can also just keep monitoring their behavior to see what kind of content and topics they are interested in so you can cater to their needs and wishes.
How to manage your influencers
There are different ways to manage your influencers:
- You can make them highly visible. For example by:
- Creating a special group for the influencers to involve them in any community decisions and report these decisions back to the rest of the community.
- Rewarding them with special benefits such as a monthly column or feature article on the community or on your website.
- Giving them a moderation role to help you moderate your community.
- You can make their role more low key. For example by:
- Monitoring their conversations and asking for ideas and feedback on how to manage your community.
- Rewarding them with special benefits on an infrequent basis, so less noticeable than in the previous examples.
- Something in between.
How you manage your influencers depends on the inner politics of your community, as well as the time you can allocate to your influencers and the rest of your community. it may also depend on where you are in the phases of community building.
Tip: Be careful on how you engage with your influencers and who you pick as your influencers. Steer clear of controversial figures and avoid making other users feel left out. It’s important that members don’t feel that others get preferential treatment, even if in some cases they are.