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Turn Your Membership Site into an Interactive Community

Turn Your Membership Site into an Interactive Community

A great way to boost your retention rate and reduce membership churn is by building a community. If people decide to leave your membership site, they’re not just losing access to good information – they’re losing access to a valuable community as well.


They lose the ability to ask questions 24/7. They lose the ability to showcase their own expertise within a community. They lose the ability to easily reach out and connect with likeminded folks, do joint ventures, do brainstorming and so on.


Sometimes people build these communities by using a third-party platform such as a private Facebook group.


However, there are a few problems with this method.


For starters, not every member can or wants to use Facebook. In fact, some people are vehemently opposed to using this social media site or any other. So, you’re going to have a certain percentage of members who absolutely won’t use a Facebook group no matter what type of content you’re sharing within it.


Secondly, you don’t have any control over the platform. It’s Facebook’s platform, not yours. They set the rules. And they just might decide to do away with groups, in which case all your hard work is gone. Or maybe you’re getting bit political on your personal account, and you get banned. Boom, you just lost access to your own group as well.


A third problem with using Facebook or any other platform is that you’re sending your members away from your membership site. Your goal should be to get your members visiting your membership site every chance they get and starting a group on a third-party platform does the opposite of what you want.


So, what’s the solution?


Clearly, you need to build a community directly on your own website. And this community needs to be part of your membership site itself, so that people need to log into the membership site in order to get access to the community.


YOU need to build and engage this community.


See, just the act of bringing likeminded people together and putting a discussion feature in front of them doesn’t automatically create an engaged community. You need to get the ball rolling by starting the discussions. And as your community grows, you may enlist the help of some of your most active members to be discussion leaders.


Take note that all of this is a process. You can’t post three thought-provoking posts this week and expect your community to naturally take on a life of its own by next week. You need to invest some time in consistently posting good content, and then encouraging your members to participate as well.


Let’s talk about some of the ways you can do this.


Post Regularly


First off, you want to train your members to start logging into your membership site regularly – and that means you need to post discussion content regularly (daily). The idea is to make it become habit or part of your members’ routines to log into the site every day to see what’s new in the discussion group and to get them to contribute.


As such, plan on posting good content daily while you’re building your community. You may also recruit active members to keep the conversation flowing. Eventually, as the community starts taking on a life of its own, you won’t need to participate as much.


At the beginning you may post daily, but later you may reduce your participation to a few times per month – just depending on the point when you have enough active members to keep the discussion group active.


Share Some of Your Best Content


You need to give your members a good reason to check the discussions every day, and one way to do that is to share some of your best tips, tricks, hacks and more in the community. We’re talking about you sharing information that’s not actually found elsewhere in the membership site.


You can also share links to freemiums within the discussion. For example, distribute a link to a tool, such as a free checklist, mind map or even an app. You can also share entire pieces of content, such as videos, reports and more.


Perhaps someone in the discussion asks a question. Instead of giving a short answer, you can provide a short answer AND a link to a video that provides the longer answer. For instance, if someone inside a dog training site asks about how to teach their dog to walk with a loose leash, you can create a link that actually demonstrates how to do it.


As you can see, these sorts of conversations add a lot of value to your membership site, PLUS they help further elevate you as an authority and niche expert.


Mention the Community During the Onboarding Process


In order to get people participating, you need to remind them multiple times that the community exists. There should be a clear link to the community that’s easily visible and accessible every time members log into the site. You also need to remind members repeatedly in your onboarding sequence to join the community. You can even point out specific topics in the discussion group and ask your new members to comment. For example, you might point out a big and popular topic.


Now you can also see why it’s so important for there to be new content daily in the discussion. Imagine a new member logs into the membership site for the first time and sees the discussion. They glance over it, but they don’t participate.


Then they get an onboarding email from you in a couple days that mentions the group – they click through and glance over it again.


Maybe in another few days they get yet another onboarding email from you that mentions the group and links to a specific topic. Again, the member clicks through, looks at the topic, and glances at the other topics.


If a brand-new member goes to your group three or four times in a row and sees the SAME content, what do you think will happen? That’s right, they’re going to stop going to your group because it’s not very rewarding.


On the other hand, if there are new and exciting topics in the group every time someone logs in, then you can bet your new members are going to be eager to log in again and again to see what’s new. And that’s exactly what you want them to do.


Encourage Participation


To build a true community, you need your members to get involved. Simply encouraging them to “introduce yourself” is not enough. An introduction doesn’t really foster much of a sense of community. That’s why you need to encourage people to participate.


One way to encourage participation is to encourage people to ask questions. For example, you might start an “Ask Me Anything” session, where you answer your members’ questions about you, your business, the niche, or anything else.


Along those same lines, you might create a real-time coaching session. You can pick a popular topic within your niche, teach something about that topic, and then encourage members to ask questions.


Another way to encourage participation is to ask your members for their tips, tricks and so on. For example, if you have a weight-loss membership, you might ask members to share their tips for staying satiated between meals.


Still another way to encourage participation is to invite members to share their relevant stories, experiences, photos and similar.


The reason this strategy is important is because many of your members aren’t going to feel comfortable asking questions, because they might believe their question is dumb. Secondly, these same folks are unlikely to share tips, because they don’t feel they can contribute anything of value to a conversation. And the longer they sit in your group without participating, the less likely it is that they’ll ever participate.


The solution? Create threads where EVERYONE can participate. For example, if you have a dog-training site, then start a discussion where people can share cute photos of their dogs. Dog owners love sharing pics, and it requires no special level of expertise or bravery to do so. These sorts of discussion threads can get even your shyest members participating.


Another example: if you have a membership site designed to help amateur bodybuilders win competitions, you might ask members to share their embarrassing gym stories. This helps build rapport among members, as members realize they’re not the only ones who’ve done something silly or embarrassing in the gym.


The bottom line here is that building a community doesn’t automagically happen on its own. You need to ensure there’s good content being posted to the community daily – even if that content needs to initially come from you. And you need to encourage your members to log in and start contributing.


Once a member is contributing, they’re going to be emotionally invested in the relationships they’re building – and that means they’re less likely to leave your membership site.

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