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Articles > Building Your Community > Round up: Developing a digital community - how to go from 9 to 9,000 members

Round up: Developing a digital community - how to go from 9 to 9,000 members

Building a community from the ground up isn't easy, but you can employ these engagement tactics to achieve consistent growth

Building a community of over 9,000 highly engaged members is every community manager’s dream: this is what Kasandrea Sereno has achieved as founder of HigherEdSocial, a network of social media professionals working in the higher education space around the world. Recently, she presented a ToucanTech webinar to share her 9 key engagement tactics that have helped to grow her community while keeping her existing members engaged.

1. Start with a strong foundation

Consider what the role of your community is and who you want to invite to be a part of your community. Once you have identified your niche, consider what their pain points and goals are. 

2. Identify the needs of your members and how you can help

By tailoring your community, you can meet your prospective members’ needs in the most relevant and useful way. Consider who you can partner with, collaborate, share tips from, in adjacent spaces so that you aren’t having to reinvent the wheel. 

3. Shape the path

Making your community easy to understand, both its purpose and the culture of the group, is a crucial part of keeping new members engaged. Try to limit specialty language that could be confusing for newcomers, and make it clear either in written form or leading by example what members should be doing - i.e. commenting, asking questions, posting new discussions!

4. Building your community culture

Kasandrea shared a brilliant example of treating your community as a party, and as a hostess how you should invite people in, make them feel welcome, and introduce them to other attendees (onboarding new members). This is a great way to ensure that each new member will feel comfortable and will keep returning to your community. 

5. Seed the conversation

“If all you have is a group where people come to get information and leave, then you have a bulletin board, not a community.” For your community to thrive, you need a regular flow of engagement, whether that is with your content, events, opportunities or other members! ToucanTech makes it easy for members to interact with each other through discussion forums, commenting on articles and photo galleries, or to get involved in career mentoring. 

6. Choose your community managers and admins well!

A community manager should have a deep interest in people and customer service, as well as being extremely ethical. As your community grows, you’ll naturally find people who want to take more responsibility: with ToucanTech, you can assign ‘club admins’ to run specific clubs. They can send emails, set up events, post news articles and more, just for their club. This gives you back admin time, while keeping your main admin portal safe - club admins will only have access to a club admin portal. 

7. Like/Know/Trust - The golden triangle of community management

Members need to like, know and trust the community admins. By over-delivering on promises & support when needed, you can build a deep level of trust and value that members will appreciate.

8. Trial and error 

Testing out new content, formats, events and discussion forums is all a part of building a new community. Consistent content is really important: it shows your existing members that you care about sharing value, and new members can see that the community is active. Test your community strategy and evolve it as needs be: as your community grows, you will find some tactics work better than others. 

9. Never stop learning

Community management is at heart, deeply knowing and understanding humans, as well as your niche market. It’s important to move with cultural and technological shifts: as more and more people have become switched on to digital engagement in the last year, it’s the right time to consider an online space for your community.

HigherEdSocial joined ToucanTech to better serve their community through access to resources, a private portal and a secure forum. Find out what Kasandrea Sereno has to say about ToucanTech here

ToucanTech customers are building thriving online communities all over the world. Find out how ToucanTech can support your organisation by speaking to a member of the team here.

For more guidance on fundraising, engagement and community management, check out our upcoming webinars or webinars-on-demand

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