Telegram is amazing. More and more people use this instant messaging app every day, and there’s no stopping to its increasing adoption.

Besides the basic functionality, i.e. chatting, there’re also a lot of features that make it easy to form communities on Telegram. For example, you can pin important messages, and the maximum number of members you can have, at this time of writing, is 75,000!

Currently, there are all kinds of Telegram groups catering to different audiences, be it a small group project, interest groups, or even crypto communities. However, growing a group from scratch and ensuring that your group continues to thrive is a challenging affair.

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We get it, since we’ve grown our very own Telegram meme group to 13,000 members in the short span of four months. In this article, we share several tips to help your Telegram group thrive.

1- Understand why people join your group

For our group, the reason why members were in our group in the first place was a simple one — they simply wanted to enjoy memes.

In general, it’s important to understand why your members are in the group, as it will help you tailor your message. Not understanding this, your group will lead to slow growth at best, and people leave your group at worst.

Take some time to understand the needs of your members, and the types of content that they want to see in your group.

2- Set ground rules

When our group first started, there were no rules as members were already friends and had mutual understanding. However, as the group scaled, it was important to set ground rules. In the early days of the meme group, there were three main problems:

  1. Unacceptable photos were shared — this included gore and material of adult nature
  2. Long stretches of messages without any memes shared
  3. Members receiving unsolicited messages from other members in the group

Members began leaving as these things did not align with what they wanted — to simply enjoy memes. To address this, the admin team set ground rules to curb these behaviour.

For example, admins regularly reminded members that they should be “more memes less talk”. Those who broke rule-3 were named and shamed, followed by expulsion from the group.

The ground rules reduced incidents of the three issues and subsequently reduced attrition rate. Publicising the admins’ decision was helpful as it sent a signal to members that we were serious about our rules. Other than keeping the channel as friendly as possible, it also served to deter future offenders.

3-Have an effective team

We were fortunate to assemble a team of passionate admins who were invested in growing the meme group. Our campaigns ran smoothly because the admins are aligned and ensured that things were executed.

Ensuring that admins were available at all times to monitor group activity is important as well, to avoid members breaking rules.

4- Communicate, communicate, communicate

Broadly speaking, communication is absolutely important in maintaining and growing a thriving community. Since your members are the biggest stakeholders in your community, their opinions do matter. As such, listening to your community can also prove to be valuable. One effective way is to take in relevant feedback and adapt their words into your strategies.

Firstly, there is communication to get a community’s opinion. This involves interacting with the community as a whole. It ranges from a simple message in the group to more sophisticated ways like using a bot to conduct polls.

Secondly, there is communication to get feedback. In contrast with communicating with the entire community, there’s also engaging individual members for feedback. We reach out to group leavers regularly to understand why they left. This allowed the admin to tweak our rules and messaging in the group.

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In addition, reaching out to leavers has an unexpected effect — there are those who come back after being individually engaged. Is it scalable? Not immediately, but it’s nonetheless important as reconverted members are stronger supporters than before.

It is also important to communicate your decisions to the entire group, be it in the event when community rules are flouted or thought-processes behind the admins’ actions.

5- Use analytics

Telegram is an amazing messaging app not just because it supports large groups, but the team also built a suite of application programme interface (APIs) that allow us to draw data to perform analytics. We developed in-house analytics capabilities to monitor our group growth.

Utilising analytics also helped us in identifying our key target audience and keeping content relevant to this age group. It was also easier to set goals for upcoming campaigns.

Over time, community managers or admins can intuit who are strong supporters in the group. They are individuals who consistently and frequently active, and are usually the first to engage the admins over issues.

In our case, we identified key members who were consistently contributing to the group using analytics. Engaging them helped maintain consistent levels of user-generated content in the group while encouraging new members to contribute.

6- Incentivise key members

From time to time, our group also organised contests to engage the community. These contests ranged from spurring members to create their own memes, to encouraging them to invite as many friends as possible to join the group.

Top contributors will then be rewarded for their efforts in helping to strengthen community bonds. Incentivising our members will help to foster a sense of loyalty in the community and engaging with the community as a whole. This is also a way to show gratitude to members for reaching and exceeding goals – be it membership, or simply strengthening community bonds.

In our case, recognition given by admins to members is also key in spurring more user-generated content from our members. Admins would then choose their favourite original meme in a bid to commend our members for their effort.

Recognition as an incentive helps us to retain our members by making them feel cared for. Productivity also increases, i.e improving the quality and quantity of memes posted.

A game of patience, love and strategy

Growing a Telegram community is a long-term effort, involving a lot of investment in time and communication. While growing a group into a thriving one might be daunting to begin with, the rewards are amazing when your efforts strengthen the community and members are aligned and have the same levels of passion for the subject.

Your community needs to grow at a manageable pace and in an organic way. As community members interact around shared values, community cultures will begin to form and that is when a group starts to thrive.

To Si Ling is Co-founder of MnD Analytics.

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