Tending the Village: Minding an Online Community

minding online community

 

As the Social Media executive at eumom, Jennifer Roche has loads of experience in the care and maintenance of an online community. In this post, she shares her top five tips for keeping a community engaged on Facebook.

“It takes a village to raise a child.” So goes the saying. But what if you have no village?

If you’re a parent, then you’ll know the thrilling, but ultimately terrifying, moment when your baby is placed in your arms for the first time. The realisation that this little bundle is dependent on you for absolutely everything can be overwhelming and the first thing most new parents think is…..”HELP!!”

Traditionally, new parents have had the support network of family, friends and the local community to fall back on for help and advice. But what if you live a long distance from family? Maybe they’re even in another country? Who do you turn to, the neighbours? Our busy lives mean we no longer have time to get to know our neighbours well and the local community isn’t as close-knit as it used to be. For first-time moms without a support network, this can be a scary and isolating situation. This is where online communities come in.

minding online community

According to the Central Statistics Office, 92% of women between the ages of 30-44 own and use mobile devices to access the internet. With the average age of a first-time mother now being 32, this represents a huge number of new moms who have the power to reach out online to find the help they need.

At eumom, we pride ourselves on providing that support to new moms, experienced ones and moms-to-be. Our Facebook community currently numbers 82,000 and continues to grow by the day. We offer advice and support to parents through relevant and informative content articles linking back to our website and through our ‘Mom’s Queries’ where Moms can send in questions via private message which are then posted on our Facebook page for other moms to respond to with tips and advice. All queries are posted anonymously so Moms feel safe discussing matters they may not otherwise mention on a public Facebook page.

These questions cover everything from sleep, feeding, toddler behaviour, potty training and child health/development. These are perennial topics that appear on a regular basis, while relationship worries, childcare issues and concerns about maternity leave, benefits and money are an indicator of today’s growing societal challenges and help us to spot trends and inspiration for content articles. This has proved hugely successful in the past with some of our highest performing articles having come from Mom’s Queries such as this one that covers the best cars for growing families.

We also provide closed monthly Facebook birth clubs where expectant Moms can chat in confidence with other women at the same stage of their pregnancy journey. Then, when their little ones arrive, they can compare notes and swap tips and advice on caring for their little ones. Friendships are made and the support they need is found. It’s not uncommon for real life friendships to stem from these online groups, as this article from ‘Prosecco Powered Mum’ will attest.

With Moms increasingly turning to the internet for online help and support, having an online community is more important than ever for companies involved in social media marketing for the following reasons:

  • Engaged target audience for client campaigns
  • Drives traffic to website through relevant content links
  • Valuable listening tool – Mom’s queries tell us what Moms want to read about
  • Builds reach and engagement – average reach of a ‘Mom’s Query’ post is 20-22k

minding online community

1. Provide a safe space

Moms are hesitant to talk about sensitive issues on a public page so we always post their queries anonymously. This allows our Moms to speak freely.

2. Reply promptly

For a worried Mom, waiting for a reply to their query can feel like an eternity, which is why we have an auto-reply to tell them that we’ve received their query and will reply to them shortly. As a rule, I try to get back to Moms within 24 hours and if their question is to be posted as a Mom’s Query, they will be given a date and time so they will be able to check in and read the comments from the other moms. There’s nothing worse than being left hanging without a reply.

3. Empathise

People will always return if they feel they have been treated as a human being and not as a number. As a parent, I understand the challenges faced by our Moms and can respond in kind with advice from our page in the form of useful articles or links to organisations such as Nurture or Breastfeeding.ie. If I can’t provide an answer, then the question is scheduled as a ‘Mom’s Query’. A simple piece of advice or “Yes, this is normal.” or “That happened to me too.” is all that’s needed to put the Mom’s mind at rest.

4. Be vigilant

Most of the time, Moms will reply to a query with help and advice, but sometimes, if it’s an emotive subject or something that strays from the path of what’s considered ‘proper parenting’, all it takes is one strong reaction and negative comments will spread like a brush fire. This is where you need to step in with a reminder that we all do things differently and to keep comments respectful and non-judgemental. This generally does the trick. I’m happy to say, I have never had to ban anyone from our Facebook page. If you think a specific query is going to cause some negative reactions, pop a reminder into your phone to check in on the comments.

5. Ask for reviews

You want your community to grow so if you get positive feedback from a happy Mom, it’s a good idea to ask them to post a review on the page. This helps to spread the word, boost your page rating and makes Facebook more likely to recommend the page to others. Also, Moms love to share useful things with their friends so making them happy means they will recommend eumom to others.

If you’re interested in seeing what eumom’s FB community is all about, drop us a note, or check it out for yourself online.

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