professionalYou have decided to revitalize – or create – an interactive digital community for your brand or organization. You want your community to thrive, to be a place that your customers, members or potential clients come to connect with one another, to learn more about your brand and to gain important industry-related knowledge. You have a specific vision of what it’ll look like and you’re ready to go. Next step? Building influence.

Why Influence Matters

In any community, a leader must work to get things moving, to pull the members of the community together and to work toward a specific goal. Without influence, this is impossible.

Influencers have a way of promoting certain thoughts, of making communication flow freely and of creating a sense of inclusion that makes a positive, inviting atmosphere. Atmosphere is important; if a community is falling flat, leaves a sense of negativity or offers little room for engagement, it will not succeed. Once again, in this regard, influence is critical.

Steps for Building Influence in a Digital Community

Whether you’re starting from scratch with a new Social HubSite, or looking for ways to infuse a little more influence into your existing community, it doesn’t have to be a challenge. Follow the steps below for best results.

1.       Become a Resource

Think about the people you naturally gravitate toward. Chances are, they are useful to you in one way or another – they are resources. They’re able to provide the information you need in a timely manner, they’re welcoming, they’re engaging and they want to make your life easier.

You should work to become this inside of your own digital community. By looking for ways to serve as a resource – someone who is trusted and easy to relate to, sharing important information before community members even know it’s important – you’ll become a trusted resource.

To put this into action, be on the constant look out for information that could be relevant to your community members. Share links, create useful content and make yourself available to answer questions.

2.       Encourage Ambassadors

Think of brand ambassadors as supplements to you as a community manager. These “early adopters” are enthusiastic about your brand or association. They regularly refer others, they start conversations, they respond to community discussions and they help to welcome others into the group. They are influencers as well, and because of that, every healthy digital community needs a few – at least a few.

From the early stages of your community, look for individuals who stand out, who you can count on to respond to information you post, that share your community with others and that start conversations on your own. They’ll start to show up from the very beginning.

From there, reach out individually, thank these ambassadors for their enthusiasm and make it known that you’re available for whatever they might need. Why not sweeten the deal by sending a coupon code or other incentive as a form of thanks? By keeping your brand ambassadors happy, you’ll keep your community thriving, even when you’re not an active part of the conversation.

3.       Listen…Then Listen Some More

Sometimes becoming an influencer has nothing to do with output. Instead, it can be about listening – truly listening – to your community members and acting accordingly.

Try to gauge the overall vibe of your digital community on a regular basis. Do certain posts – or members – lead to negativity? Are there needs that aren’t being met or questions that are left without responses? What sort of feedback are you receiving – personally or through an open forum?

As a community influencer, it’s important that you make it known that you are listening and taking any concerns or ideas that come from members seriously. Publicly acknowledge comments that are public, privately respond to all message inquiries and take steps to demonstrate that the comments and opinions of your members matter. The more you listen, the more respect you’ll gain as a community influencer.

Influencers are critical for healthy, growing digital communities. As a community manager, it’s critical that you align yourself with that role while using it to direct your community in the right direction. Important role? Absolutely? Something impossible to obtain? Absolutely not.

Have questions? Ask! Ready to start your community or take it to the next level? Sign up for a free trial with Social HubSite today!

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