So far we’ve talked about getting users and engaging them. But how do you keep them coming back over the long term?

The key is providing value.

Or, as GroupBuzz’s Alex Hillman puts it, “your job [as community manager] is to help members participate at a level that balances the value they receive from the community as well as the value they provide to the community”.

In some cases, providing a place for members to engage in conversation will be enough to balance out the equation. But in other cases, you might have to go the extra mile to keep your members happy.

I think the network effect is a thing here. The access to lots of people in the same niche is value added.

Pieter Levels, #Nomads

The Power Of Listening

One simple way to provide value is simply to listen. It turns out it can sometimes be surprisingly hard to get people to pay attention to your work. Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit might sometimes prove themselves useful allies in spreading the word, but they can also have the inverse effect and bury any new initiative under a mountain of memes and cat pictures.

So having a place where you know people will pay attention can be hugely valuable in itself. As always though, your job is to keep things balanced to prevent your community from devolving into a self-promotion shouting match.

Helping Out

A membership to Justin Jackson’s Product People Club costs $199 per year. That’s a high entry fee, but it’s worth it because of the extra value Justin provides. Members can ask for advice, get his feedback on their projects, and benefit from his own network and audience.

One of the biggest perks for members has been the “co-promotion” we do as a group whenever someone launches something. We all help by tweeting, sharing, etc. when someone launches something cool. Most folks really struggle with promoting their own stuff, so this solves a huge problem for them.

Justin Jackson, Product People Club

Homework

  • Come up with an extra perk (free eBook, video, etc.) to give out to your community members.
  • Ask your most active users what value they get from being part of your community.