You just paid for a great training course or program and you join the Facebook group — or online community space — that goes with it.
You’re excited to get in there and get to know people.
You scroll through the feed and you immediately notice something weird…
Nothing’s going on in there.
Nobody’s sharing, asking questions, commenting or engaging… it feels like a ghost town.
So this happens way more than it should because a lot of entrepreneurs have no idea how to build a supportive, vibrant community for their students and customers.
It’s a huge problem because the truth is, a disengaged or “dead” community is worse than no community at all!
It’s well known that people are drawn to your programs for the content but they stay for the community.
So, if you want your ideal customers to buy from you — not just once but over and over again — you need to master the art of building a dynamic, lively community around each of your offers…
And I’m the first to admit that this is tricky business!
I’ve spent years figuring out the “how-to” behind powerful online communities and there was a whole lot of trial and error involved.
But I’m happy to say I’ve finally cracked the code 🙂
Here are some of my favorite methods to create a fun, engaging online community around your next product, program or service.
Method #1: Encourage (Healthy) Competition & Celebration
One of the most powerful and effective ways to kick off the community is to seed share requests inside your training program.
For instance, after each training video, you can specifically ask students to share their questions and comments on what they just learned, inside the community space.
Once you’ve got them connecting, commenting and engaging with you and with each other, you can pivot to asking for “midstream transformations.”
This is about getting them to open up about what’s going on for them during your course or program…
Basically, the ups, downs and everything in between that they’re experiencing while implementing the strategies and techniques in your training.
And you can incentivize this activity with fun contests and competitions 🙂
For instance, you could do a weekly roundup post in the group on a Monday, tell people you’ll choose the best share by end-of-day Sunday and the winner gets a prize.
So the prize could be anything you like… a 20-minute 1:1 call with you, a mini course or training from your library or anything else you can think of to motivate people to participate.
And if you want to generate even more engagement and connection, encourage everyone else to celebrate, ask people to drop an emoji or a few words of love and support when you announce the winner.
The point is to create a culture of healthy competition and celebration that inspires community members to get to know each other and build real relationships based on vulnerability and connection.
One big mistake I see all the time around this type of contest or competition is that in order to win, people have to hit some kind of crazy goal.
So, don’t ask your community to sign on 100 new clients, or create a 10-week course or add 1000 people to their email list in a week just to get their hands on the prize.
You want to encourage people to share and celebrate small wins — no matter how insignificant they think it is — because in this case, size really doesn’t matter.
Small wins often pave the way for big ones and a community that celebrates together sticks together 🙂
Method #2: Dream Up Your Own Culture & Language
There’s this book by Benedict Anderson called Imagined Communities, and it’s one of the top books in anthropology.
Imagined Communities are not about borders or location…
They’re about people coming together around a shared culture and language, which gives them a chance to connect with each other on a much deeper level.
Shared culture and language also creates an energy of understanding and feeling understood… something ALL great communities have in common.
So, we have this awesome Imagined Community in our Experience Product Masterclass Facebook group.
EPM is our signature program and I’m proud to say we’ve built one of the most engaged communities around.
And I think one of the big reasons is that we have a lot of shared language and culture going on in the group.
For instance, EPM-ers love using specific phrases, words or titles to communicate with each other.
When they hit a goal or target in the program, they’ll say “Mission Accomplished” or they’ll use EPM-centric terminology to share whether they’re brand new in business, more advanced or somewhere in between.
And if you take a peek in the group you’ll see people saying things like, “I’m in Blue Sky” or “Call Me” and someone else might say, “I’m in the List Build or Authority stage” and everyone else instantly gets what that means.
One of our EPM grads, Danilo Tambone, even recorded a rap song for us.
It’s called the Experience Product Master Rap and you’ll see that he talks about members of our team and each of our core principles at EPM.
Take a look…
Danilo even performed the Experience Product Master Rap on our final call at the end of the program.
People absolutely loved it (especially me!) and it made every one of us feel like we belong together… and we do!
It’s a great example of the magic of shared culture AND shared language at work 🙂
Method #3: Use Symbols, Rituals and Traditions
Something else that got a lot of buzz and engagement inside our EPM community has to do with hats and T-shirts 🙂
It all started with a training call where I talked about looking at your product or program like a scientist in the experiment lab of your business and putting on your metaphorical “Experimenter’s Hat.”
The idea totally caught on and hats — literally — became a thing!
People would get on our group calls wearing a fun hat and they’d say it was their Experimenter’s Hat and when we had our final call, people showed up in all kinds of crazy hats to celebrate!
And as for the shirts…
We had a contest winner record himself talking about his win while wearing our EPM T-shirt. He shared the video in the group and a tradition was born 🙂
More and more people started wearing their T-shirts every time they shared that they’d hit a goal or when they won a contest.
It got to the point where people couldn’t wait to wear a T-shirt! It had turned into a symbol of success and because they won it through a jump contest, they were especially proud of it 🙂
So hats and shirts became an ‘insider” thing for EPM-ers and it became a community ritual that brought people together in ways that went beyond anything I could have imagined.
So, creating an engaged community around your program or course isn’t a walk in the park…
But it’s not rocket science either!
Start by giving yourself permission to try new ideas and activities. Aim to surprise and delight your students and enjoy your community
Encourage people to have fun but don’t forget to define some ground rules on how you want people to behave, and post, and share.
I highly recommend investing in customer support to make sure people follow the rules and the energy inside the group stays positive, upbeat and supportive.
If you want to experience the Live Your Message community first-hand, I highly recommend you join us at our annual Message to Money Live event in LA.
It’s happening March 6-8, 2020 and we have people fly in from 40 different countries to experience some serious “surprise & delight”… and leave with their entire business on one piece of paper.
Snag your early bird ticket here while you still can: https://messagetomoneylive.com/
Over to you…
What’s an online community that you’re in love with right now (it doesn’t matter if it’s free or paid)?
And I’d love to know what makes you want to stay connected and engaged with the people in the group.
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments… I read and personally reply to each one 🙂