Community engagement has always been an important retention strategy not only for coworking spaces but businesses in general. A recent study found that engaging your customers makes them five times more likely to stay loyal to your brand.
In these difficult times, that community engagement has become even more crucial. COVID-19 may require us to social distance but it doesn’t mean we have to stop talking to each other. In fact, if anything, people are feeling the need for connection now more than ever.
So now is your chance to reinforce your community engagement and become that place of connection for your audience – be it members, social media followers, or email subscribers. By bringing them closer now, not only will you demonstrate value and show support, but you’ll also set yourself up for even greater success when the pandemic is over. Research by Gartner indicates that nearly three out of four CFOs plan to permanently shift employees to remote work. This means your audience is only going to grow in the coming years.
To help you get started, here are five ways you can reimagine your offering to keep your community engaged with each other and your space.
1. Create a place for conversation to occur
Knowing you’re not alone during these trying times can be a big relief, reducing stress and loneliness. Why not create a space where members can share questions and concerns or simply chat to take their mind off things? There are numerous software solutions you can use to do this. Your Optix app’s Community Feed and messaging functionality are key examples. Others include Slack and Zoom.
Whatever option you choose, keeping members active and engaged with the software is essential. Try kick starting conversations by using the tool yourself. This can include sharing articles and work from home tips in public groups, as well as reaching out to members through private messaging to see how they’re doing.
2. Provide a marketplace for members
Your coworking space has a built-in business network. Encourage your members to tap into it and support each other through this period of uncertainty, by offering them a place to promote and exchange their services. Do they have projects other members could help them with – building a website, designing marketing materials, doing their taxes? Are there skills they could share with the group via a webinar or digital lunch and learn? Members will remember this kind of community support and engagement long after the pandemic is over.
3. Offer support and ask for ideas
There are lots of ways you can offer support to members, some of which you may not even be aware of. So why not use your newly created conversation space to ask? You could pose the question in the public group or send out a quick feedback survey for them to fill out.
In the meantime, some potential options include:
- Service subscriptions – From meditation apps like the Calm App to education tools like LinkedIn Learning, there are plenty of digital services available. But they can be expensive. Give members access through their virtual membership. Because the costs are divided across the group, it will be cheaper for everyone.
- Discounts on tools – Working from home limits access to helpful tech, like video conferencing. Leverage your membership’s group buying power to negotiate discounted rates, so members can still enjoy these resources through you.
- Fun online entertainment – Not everything has to be about work. Help members have fun by recommending free entertainment they can enjoy from home, such as virtual museum tours and interesting documentaries.
- Local business collaborations – Supporting local is even more important now. Reach out to businesses in your area and see if you can partner to offer discounts. This option is a win/win for everyone. Members get reduced prices on essential goods (like coffee), the businesses boost their revenue and you create another membership value-add.
4. Set up digital speaker sessions
We live in unprecedented times filled with confusion. Help alleviate some of that uncertainty by reaching out to experts who can share genuine guidance and asking them to host webinars. They could offer insights into relevant topics such as the loans and subsidies available for businesses during COVID-19 and how to access support from government programs, or digital business growth and development tips. As a result, you’ll become a trusted resource for accurate information and helpful advice throughout the current situation. Zoom, Google Hangouts, and GoToWebinar are all solutions that will help you easily organize these events.
5. Share all this in weekly newsletters
Creating all these new offerings won’t help if members aren’t aware of them, so make sure you share updates often. You can opt for the traditional email newsletter, using solutions like Mailchimp, or think outside the box by starting a podcast or YouTube channel. All three options are great ways to engage your audience. Audio and video particularly have been shown to produce high engagement rates.
Some ideas for what you can share in your newsletter include:
- Roundups of tips and tricks shared by members in your conversation space
- Announcements of new virtual membership perks
- Invitations to register for your upcoming digital events and webinars
- Advertising spots for members to promote their businesses
- Member interviews or fun Q&As sharing skills and advice
The added benefits to maintaining this regular contact are that it reminds members you care, preserves brand awareness, and encourages community engagement.
Engaging your membership is a powerful way to build loyalty. By providing a space where they can access tools, information, and community support, you become an indispensable resource they can rely on. As a result, you’ll retain your members and keep them connected through these trying times.