6 Tips to Build a Successful Online Community … and Survive the Zombie Apocalypse
Alexandra Kruse

It’s been a long, hard winter, and summer is looking to be worse.

Your group has been holed up in a small bunker. There’s been little fresh food to speak of and even less morale. The group is at a breaking point, splintered, and threatening to tear apart at the seams.

If you’re going to pull this group back together and steer them all toward a common goal, you need to think quickly. It’s a challenge. You already know most won’t make it because you read that only 13 percent of workers … er, survivors … actually feel engaged. But you also know that 87 percent believe it’s important to feel engaged. Moments like these are what separate the true leaders from the rest—and then you remember that leaders who build a culture with an engaged community see an 18 percent increase in revenue per employee.

This is your community: your community to unify, your community to lead. Here are a few tips to help you lead an online community; or, if you find yourself in the unfortunate scenario, to ensure your group can survive the zombie apocalypse.

1: Know Your Environment

Just as you can’t survive in the wild without knowing your environment, your workplace community can’t survive without a deep understanding of its members.

Every community is different. Every online environment is different. Every business is different. In other words, you can’t go in blind and hope that your methods will achieve results. Strong community leaders understand the goals of the community. In other words, what does success actually look like? Most often, the goal is to increase the community size as well as the skills and knowledge of its members. Community leaders are more than just figureheads, they are a part of the community and they can bring value to the table.

2: Inspire Your Community

No one wants to follow a leader who only focuses on the negatives. When the ravenous hordes are descending upon you, your community members need someone who will give them hope and lead by example.

You must be a cheerleader. Someone who gets a community excited and prompts conversations that encourage participation from new members. So rally the troops and show that you recognize and support their efforts as much as possible. Lead by example and dole out praise to keep your community inspired and productive.

3: Provide Consistent Support

Unpredictability will get you killed … metaphorically speaking. If you’re out in the wild and struggling to lead your group to safety, inconsistency will be your ultimate downfall.

People need a consistent message. It’s more than just a matter of comfort, but one of the defining qualities that separates effective leaders from the rest.

When it comes to your online community, prepare for an initial period of growth. Then have interesting content available during the quiet period. Conversations won’t just happen at first. You need to woo your audience with a range of interesting topics. Remember that a great community not only encourages conversation, but also consistently provides rich, interesting, and relevant content.

4: Be a Teacher

A rag-tag bunch of survivalists is looking to you for help. You need to be a resource, a wealth of information. And if you don’t know the answer to something right now, go figure it out. It’s not your job to know everything, but it is your job to find someone who does know.

You need to focus on showing the community how it can function in the most efficient way. You’re there to be their support when they’re frustrated and to share your knowledge when it’s needed. Be prepared to explain and educate your community on how to collaborate efficiently and enable themselves to be successful.

5: Be Introspective

As a leader, you need to recognize when your strategy is no longer working. And how are you going to know what’s working and what isn’t unless you take a hard look at your community and analyze it objectively? Numbers are your ally. It’s crucial to understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie as you’re working toward success. Your community is a changing organism that evolves every day. If you’re going to build a collaborative community, you first need to develop a mechanism that will allow you to better identify and understand trends. Look at the topics that generate the most interest and use your other channels to highlight them. Additionally, look for the areas where people need the most support and proactively give them answers.

6: Never Give Up

Being a successful community leader takes time. It also takes a group effort to make things happen. Don’t expect to have a gritty pack of highly engaged survivalists within the first week and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. With consistency, positive attitude, and the right crew, it’s only a matter of time before your community will coalesce into a hard-fighting band of renegades who will stare the apocalypse in the eye and laugh … I mean, they’ll stare down work-related problems in the eye and laugh as they collectively find solutions.

Need Help?

It’s one thing to talk about community engagement strategy. Actually building that community is another challenge, entirely. If you need help, or just a bit of advise on how to turn your workplace into a connected, engaged, and efficient community, connect with a Carpool social engagement specialist, or reach out to us on Facebook and @CarpoolDigital.