Why You Need to Go Offline to Grow Your Online Community - dummies

Why You Need to Go Offline to Grow Your Online Community

By Deborah Ng

There may come a time when you’ll feel that your social networking and other online community outreach has hit a plateau. It happens, and it’s not a reflection on you. Summer months in particular are notoriously slow, for example. Still, your job as community manager is to grow a community, and you can’t do that if no one is biting.

At other times, you want to bring in new members regardless of plateaus and traffic numbers. New members liven up the conversation; the same people talking about the same thing gets old quick. Bringing in new members keeps the conversation and atmosphere fresh. There’s a fine line between community and clique. By bringing new members in, you’re ensuring you have the former, and not the latter.

Your members aren’t always online. Not everyone is doing an online search for your brand or looking for a place to hang out on the web. If you can’t bring members to the community, you have to bring the community to potential members. Sometimes, your community outreach has to hit the road and go live.

No rule in the online community management handbook states that community managers must have both an online and offline presence. Some community managers guard their privacy, while others enjoy meeting the people who make up their communities in person. However, members of tight-knit communities often bring up the idea of socializing offline, with or without you.

Entertaining the idea of personal meetings is a good move you and your brand because members see you as someone who is accessible and involved in the community. Also, many community managers are respected and almost viewed as celebrities to their members. It means a lot when you take some time out of your schedule to get together.

In addition, your job may require public appearances from you anyway, and you may find yourself in charge of organizing community events, such as meetups, parties, and even conferences. Community outreach of this kind occurs all the time, and plenty of professional and niche-related opportunities give you an opportunity to meet your members.

Use your imagination and keep your eye out for the types of events appropriate to your community. You may find you enjoy offline outreach as much as your online community management.