As community managers, no matter how much interest we have in our focus areas, we can't be digital socialites 24/7.
We need engagement "fall backs" for those days where we don't have the time to research or conceptualize new ideas. Arianna Rehak is the community manager for AssociationSuccess.org, a rasa.io community dedicated to bringing meaningful change and conversations to the association industry. In a recent webinar about community management, among several topics covered, she opens up her own bag of tricks for a glimpse at her 3 favorite conversation starters:
1. Dress up shared content with unique commentary
Think of it as a level above sharing - "Sharing Plus", if you will. When you post an interesting article, you can do more than just dump it onto a feed and hope that a title or meta description alone will be enough. The onslaught of daily content we're faced with means that you're held to a higher standard as a community manager to get people to bite. When you share something within a group or the community at large, take the time and effort to post a thought-provoking question or comment along with it.
By framing the discussion, you're making that content piece more relatable to your members (who already have a relationship with you) to engage with it.
2. Capitalize on holidays
The social media realm is often accused of taking such holidays too far (does there really need to be a National Fruitcake Day?). However, if you're mindful of which holidays you post about and keep it relevant, these can be a really fun catalyst for sharing information.
Your best bet is including open-ended questions that will give you the opportunity to learn more about your members. On author's day, Arianna posed a question in the AssociationSuccess.org community regarding everyone's favorite authors and got a great amount of responses. These answers gave valuable insight into her members. For example, if your favorite author is Isaac Asimov then you are probably interested in technology.
This is just one example of using a thought-provoking, highly relatable prompt to get people talking. And if you were wondering, National Fruitcake Day is December 27th.
3. Loop other members into the conversation
Connecting the dots between ideas and people is probably THE most important skill of being a community manager. This can be put into practice with strategic tagging of your community members in certain posts. Not only does this call an individual's attention to a specific piece of content, but it also links up members to each other and is a signal to others that a certain member has an interest or expertise in something specific - information that they may find useful.
In addition to the third party networking facilitation, you're also increasing interest in the community organically. Once people are tagged, they're going to feel more of a drive to respond and stronger ownership of the community.
As the webinar points out, while you should never take off your strategic cap, don't over-think your interactions to the point where they feel forced or insincere. Show your human side, your flawed side, your curious side, and people will be more accepting of you and comfortable opening up for more conversations and learning experiences.