Special Program Ideas for Online Communities - dummies

Special Program Ideas for Online Communities

By Deborah Ng

Creating special programs for your online community is great fun. This responsibility is where you, as the online community manager, really get to dig in to your community’s personality, theme, and sense of adventure. It’s also where members in return can help to spread a message and get a great word-of-mouth marketing campaign going.

You’d love to think members join communities because they dig your sparkling personality or have a passion for the brand. The truth is, most people join a community because there’s something in it for them. As community manager, it’s up to you to provide an answer to “What’s in it for me?”

A warm and fuzzy vibe doesn’t always fly. When you show the community they’re appreciated in other ways, the love is reciprocal.

Here are a few examples of some special programs you can create:

  • Sponsorships: Many brands now offer a variety of sponsorships, especially to bloggers. They advertise on blogs and help fund trips to conferences. Sponsorships can also mean sending someone on a junket or helping fund a project, such as a book.

  • Scholarships: Very few things are more important than a good education, but not everyone can afford higher learning. By offering scholarships to community members, you’re giving a chance to someone who might not have otherwise been able to do something, whether it’s travel on a mission or donate books for children.

    Scholarships don’t have to be all-expenses-paid Ivy League college stays. They can also be funding for an educational conference or a one- or two-day course. Determine a program that best fits your community and budget.

  • Mentoring: Some career-oriented communities offer mentoring for newer or inexperienced members. Mentors might be fellow employees, volunteers from within the community, or professionals who don’t mind sharing a little of their time and wisdom.

  • Charitable giving: There’s nothing more beautiful than a community coming together for a cause. Choose a charity that everyone has an interest in, and see if you can get a campaign going within your community. Match funds to give more incentive.

  • Webinars: Online conferences and seminars are called webinars. Catchy, right? If your brand has something to teach or provides a service that can be tied into learning, try putting together a webinar. It doesn’t have to be sales-y. Most people use webinars as online courses and classes. Besides leading to good feelings among your community, webinars lead to growth in sales and community.

  • Conferences: Your brand might be in a position to host a conference. If you’re niche-y and want to have a meeting of the minds and collaboration of community, conferences truly bring people together.

  • Meetups and tweetups: Meetups are community gatherings held in restaurants or pubs, and tweetups are the same but put together via Twitter for communities gathered on Twitter.