5 Tips to Jump Start Your Online Community

Whether starting a new community, or moving an existing one, the foundation is the strength of the conversations and content within it. Those conversations go a long way to assure longevity of the community.

Life, online or off, is built on a series of relationships, those with our family, friends, and fellow fans. Part of the process is the introduction and sharing of basic information, to establish a comfort level and open channels of communications.

Creating this comfort then allows the community to connect more with each other by sharing common interests, goals and ideas. Building upon the contribution of each member you will then see a more organic growth in the community as well as “natural moderators” will begin to establish themselves to help in maintaining the desired tone and direction of the community.

These 5 “no fail” tips and techniques will help you keep your focus, refine your tone and build a strong and engaged community with longevity.

East Fishkill Spurs

1. Be Welcoming, Be Disarming
Each time a new member joins your community give them the opportunity to introduce themselves. The best way to do this is to establish a set of between three and five questions for each member to answer.

Making these questions fun and non-threatening will encourage the new community members to engage, be at ease and “let their hair down”. Of course, the tone of the community will determine how “silly” these questions would be, but keeping it “light” will help gain more interaction from your community members.

Some sample questions along these lines are:

  • “Who is your favorite player?”
  • “Tell us how you became a fan”
  • “What was the best goal we ever scored?”

It’s like an online icebreaker. Ask silly, even ridiculous, questions of your members. Don’t be afraid, even in a serious forum, this allows people to connect in ways that are non-threatening and create a comfortable environment despite the tone of the serious topic that might be involved.

Believe it or not it is often more difficult for someone to share serious answers than silly answers.

2. It’s OK to Lurk
Everyone was new to online communities at one point. Try to encourage interaction and engagement, but recognize that some people might just want to watch (lurk) and adjust before they dive in.

Often times those that spend the most time lurking end up being the most engaged in the long run. Some people just need more time to adjust and acclimate to a new environment.

It is actually preferable to have someone lurk and acclimate to the tone of a community rather than jump in prematurely and risk being misunderstood, this could result in a lot of turmoil within a community.

3. Encourage Engagement, Be Appreciative, Be an Example
Actively engaged community members create opportunities for existing or new members to connect with each other, establishing a solid communal relationship. Be sure to thank people for posting, also try to positively acknowledge participation at any level.

Be a guide, or a sign post, direct your community to great content of community members, inside the community or outside, and bring the conversations to them. Be an example, by linking and sharing outside content but housing the discussion within your community.

4. Promote Great Community Contributions and Content
A solid community needs to be fed to continue to grow that community. That food is demonstrated by promoting the community and member contributions. Make it a habit to regularly promote your community members.

The conversations and sharing are the lifeblood.into other social networks. By doing this you will be promoting your community and the members, helping others find you and ensuring a continued growth in your community.

5. Appreciate Everything, Don’t Take Community for Granted
Appreciate your community. Understand that each and every member has made a choice to be a part of the community, and recognize that it’s a choice for them to remain in the community.

Never take your community for granted, if you do you will discover that they can quickly move on to what they perceive to be “Greener Pastures”. Keep it fresh, keep it lively. This is where building a community on a topic you are passionate about makes it a lot easier to grow and maintain.

If you keep these 5 tips top of mind, and try to make a habit of doing these things, you will guarantee your success is building and nurturing an amazing community!

5 Tips to Jump Start Your Online Community

Whether starting a new community, or moving an existing one, the foundation is the strength of the conversations and content within it. Those conversations go a long way to assure longevity of the community.

Life, online or off, is built on a series of relationships, those with our family, friends, and fellow fans. Part of the process is the introduction and sharing of basic information, to establish a comfort level and open channels of communications.

Creating this comfort then allows the community to connect more with each other by sharing common interests, goals and ideas. Building upon the contribution of each member you will then see a more organic growth in the community as well as “natural moderators” will begin to establish themselves to help in maintaining the desired tone and direction of the community.

These 5 “no fail” tips and techniques will help you keep your focus, refine your tone and build a strong and engaged community with longevity.

East Fishkill Spurs

1. Be Welcoming, Be Disarming
Each time a new member joins your community give them the opportunity to introduce themselves. The best way to do this is to establish a set of between three and five questions for each member to answer.

Making these questions fun and non-threatening will encourage the new community members to engage, be at ease and “let their hair down”. Of course, the tone of the community will determine how “silly” these questions would be, but keeping it “light” will help gain more interaction from your community members.

Some sample questions along these lines are:

  • “Who is your favorite player?”
  • “Tell us how you became a fan”
  • “What was the best goal we ever scored?”

It’s like an online icebreaker. Ask silly, even ridiculous, questions of your members. Don’t be afraid, even in a serious forum, this allows people to connect in ways that are non-threatening and create a comfortable environment despite the tone of the serious topic that might be involved.

Believe it or not it is often more difficult for someone to share serious answers than silly answers.

2. It’s OK to Lurk
Everyone was new to online communities at one point. Try to encourage interaction and engagement, but recognize that some people might just want to watch (lurk) and adjust before they dive in.

Often times those that spend the most time lurking end up being the most engaged in the long run. Some people just need more time to adjust and acclimate to a new environment.

It is actually preferable to have someone lurk and acclimate to the tone of a community rather than jump in prematurely and risk being misunderstood, this could result in a lot of turmoil within a community.

3. Encourage Engagement, Be Appreciative, Be an Example
Actively engaged community members create opportunities for existing or new members to connect with each other, establishing a solid communal relationship. Be sure to thank people for posting, also try to positively acknowledge participation at any level.

Be a guide, or a sign post, direct your community to great content of community members, inside the community or outside, and bring the conversations to them. Be an example, by linking and sharing outside content but housing the discussion within your community.

4. Promote Great Community Contributions and Content
A solid community needs to be fed to continue to grow that community. That food is demonstrated by promoting the community and member contributions. Make it a habit to regularly promote your community members.

The conversations and sharing are the lifeblood.into other social networks. By doing this you will be promoting your community and the members, helping others find you and ensuring a continued growth in your community.

5. Appreciate Everything, Don’t Take Community for Granted
Appreciate your community. Understand that each and every member has made a choice to be a part of the community, and recognize that it’s a choice for them to remain in the community.

Never take your community for granted, if you do you will discover that they can quickly move on to what they perceive to be “Greener Pastures”. Keep it fresh, keep it lively. This is where building a community on a topic you are passionate about makes it a lot easier to grow and maintain.

If you keep these 5 tips top of mind, and try to make a habit of doing these things, you will guarantee your success is building and nurturing an amazing community!

5 Tips to Jump Start Your Online Community

Whether starting a new community, or moving an existing one, the foundation is the strength of the conversations and content within it. Those conversations go a long way to assure longevity of the community.

Life, online or off, is built on a series of relationships, those with our family, friends, and fellow fans. Part of the process is the introduction and sharing of basic information, to establish a comfort level and open channels of communications.

Creating this comfort then allows the community to connect more with each other by sharing common interests, goals and ideas. Building upon the contribution of each member you will then see a more organic growth in the community as well as “natural moderators” will begin to establish themselves to help in maintaining the desired tone and direction of the community.

These 5 “no fail” tips and techniques will help you keep your focus, refine your tone and build a strong and engaged community with longevity.

East Fishkill Spurs

1. Be Welcoming, Be Disarming
Each time a new member joins your community give them the opportunity to introduce themselves. The best way to do this is to establish a set of between three and five questions for each member to answer.

Making these questions fun and non-threatening will encourage the new community members to engage, be at ease and “let their hair down”. Of course, the tone of the community will determine how “silly” these questions would be, but keeping it “light” will help gain more interaction from your community members.

Some sample questions along these lines are:

  • “Who is your favorite player?”
  • “Tell us how you became a fan”
  • “What was the best goal we ever scored?”

It’s like an online icebreaker. Ask silly, even ridiculous, questions of your members. Don’t be afraid, even in a serious forum, this allows people to connect in ways that are non-threatening and create a comfortable environment despite the tone of the serious topic that might be involved.

Believe it or not it is often more difficult for someone to share serious answers than silly answers.

2. It’s OK to Lurk
Everyone was new to online communities at one point. Try to encourage interaction and engagement, but recognize that some people might just want to watch (lurk) and adjust before they dive in.

Often times those that spend the most time lurking end up being the most engaged in the long run. Some people just need more time to adjust and acclimate to a new environment.

It is actually preferable to have someone lurk and acclimate to the tone of a community rather than jump in prematurely and risk being misunderstood, this could result in a lot of turmoil within a community.

3. Encourage Engagement, Be Appreciative, Be an Example
Actively engaged community members create opportunities for existing or new members to connect with each other, establishing a solid communal relationship. Be sure to thank people for posting, also try to positively acknowledge participation at any level.

Be a guide, or a sign post, direct your community to great content of community members, inside the community or outside, and bring the conversations to them. Be an example, by linking and sharing outside content but housing the discussion within your community.

4. Promote Great Community Contributions and Content
A solid community needs to be fed to continue to grow that community. That food is demonstrated by promoting the community and member contributions. Make it a habit to regularly promote your community members.

The conversations and sharing are the lifeblood.into other social networks. By doing this you will be promoting your community and the members, helping others find you and ensuring a continued growth in your community.

5. Appreciate Everything, Don’t Take Community for Granted
Appreciate your community. Understand that each and every member has made a choice to be a part of the community, and recognize that it’s a choice for them to remain in the community.

Never take your community for granted, if you do you will discover that they can quickly move on to what they perceive to be “Greener Pastures”. Keep it fresh, keep it lively. This is where building a community on a topic you are passionate about makes it a lot easier to grow and maintain.

If you keep these 5 tips top of mind, and try to make a habit of doing these things, you will guarantee your success is building and nurturing an amazing community!

5 Tips to Jump Start Your Online Community

Whether starting a new community, or moving an existing one, the foundation is the strength of the conversations and content within it. Those conversations go a long way to assure longevity of the community.

Life, online or off, is built on a series of relationships, those with our family, friends, and fellow fans. Part of the process is the introduction and sharing of basic information, to establish a comfort level and open channels of communications.

Creating this comfort then allows the community to connect more with each other by sharing common interests, goals and ideas. Building upon the contribution of each member you will then see a more organic growth in the community as well as “natural moderators” will begin to establish themselves to help in maintaining the desired tone and direction of the community.

These 5 “no fail” tips and techniques will help you keep your focus, refine your tone and build a strong and engaged community with longevity.

East Fishkill Spurs

1. Be Welcoming, Be Disarming
Each time a new member joins your community give them the opportunity to introduce themselves. The best way to do this is to establish a set of between three and five questions for each member to answer.

Making these questions fun and non-threatening will encourage the new community members to engage, be at ease and “let their hair down”. Of course, the tone of the community will determine how “silly” these questions would be, but keeping it “light” will help gain more interaction from your community members.

Some sample questions along these lines are:

  • “Who is your favorite player?”
  • “Tell us how you became a fan”
  • “What was the best goal we ever scored?”

It’s like an online icebreaker. Ask silly, even ridiculous, questions of your members. Don’t be afraid, even in a serious forum, this allows people to connect in ways that are non-threatening and create a comfortable environment despite the tone of the serious topic that might be involved.

Believe it or not it is often more difficult for someone to share serious answers than silly answers.

2. It’s OK to Lurk
Everyone was new to online communities at one point. Try to encourage interaction and engagement, but recognize that some people might just want to watch (lurk) and adjust before they dive in.

Often times those that spend the most time lurking end up being the most engaged in the long run. Some people just need more time to adjust and acclimate to a new environment.

It is actually preferable to have someone lurk and acclimate to the tone of a community rather than jump in prematurely and risk being misunderstood, this could result in a lot of turmoil within a community.

3. Encourage Engagement, Be Appreciative, Be an Example
Actively engaged community members create opportunities for existing or new members to connect with each other, establishing a solid communal relationship. Be sure to thank people for posting, also try to positively acknowledge participation at any level.

Be a guide, or a sign post, direct your community to great content of community members, inside the community or outside, and bring the conversations to them. Be an example, by linking and sharing outside content but housing the discussion within your community.

4. Promote Great Community Contributions and Content
A solid community needs to be fed to continue to grow that community. That food is demonstrated by promoting the community and member contributions. Make it a habit to regularly promote your community members.

The conversations and sharing are the lifeblood.into other social networks. By doing this you will be promoting your community and the members, helping others find you and ensuring a continued growth in your community.

5. Appreciate Everything, Don’t Take Community for Granted
Appreciate your community. Understand that each and every member has made a choice to be a part of the community, and recognize that it’s a choice for them to remain in the community.

Never take your community for granted, if you do you will discover that they can quickly move on to what they perceive to be “Greener Pastures”. Keep it fresh, keep it lively. This is where building a community on a topic you are passionate about makes it a lot easier to grow and maintain.

If you keep these 5 tips top of mind, and try to make a habit of doing these things, you will guarantee your success is building and nurturing an amazing community!

Secrets of Great Communities And Community Managers by Vanessa DiMauro, Leader Networks

honeypotSecret #1:  Great online communities are strategic.

Superior online communities, those that achieve breakthrough results for their organizations, all share a common trait.  Namely, they are treated as strategic initiatives and not campaigns, marketing programs, or skunk works efforts.  Great communities are holistic, integrated initiatives that support an important business need, accelerate a business process, or make something possible that couldn’t be done without an online collaborative environment.

Great community managers are the orchestrators of the strategies that are fueled by the lines of business. They reach out to business leaders to learn what they need and shape the responses by connecting the dots and maintain the tenor of collaboration.

Secret #2:  Great online communities develop a 90 day plan, every 90 days. 

The real work begins the day you launch the online community, and not the day you select or launch a tool. Too many organizations launch their communities without a 90 day plan which includes member acquisition, beta group participation, ongoing content and conversation programs, member outreach plans.  Great communities have a thoughtful program and revise it every few months to accommodate for the cadence of the community and business needs. As online communities have a doubling factor of 6 months, swift growth and participation is a bell-weather for future success.

Great community managers are great planners, know how to shepherd people to share in the initiatives, and are able to display urgent patience. Urgent patience means having a keen eye on tomorrow while being completely immersed in the needs of the day.

Secret #3People come for content and stay for community.

Creating meaningful content for an online community is a tricky business. Few online communities survive solely on member discussions. However, if online community management shares too much content of marginal value, members can be overwhelmed and distracted. And of course, too little content usually results in an empty community. So great content is the honeypot for great online communities. And not just any content will do!  It need to be largely derivative of the insights shared in the online community – of the members, about the members, but *not* entirely by the members. Highly curated and representative of the community members’ collective experience is the most sought after community content because it is that which cannot be gotten elsewhere.

Great community managers are great researchers.  They are able to create high quality content from the unstructured and structured data shared in the online community but bring an overlay of sense-making to the ideas so that the output is useful, useable and engaging for all.

Secret #4: When online communities become great, the members take control. 

The greatest fear many organizations have is that people will say bad things online about your company. While online communities (and any online activity) can certainly expose problems with products and services, social responsibility and customer care weaknesses, there are plenty of channels where customers can disparage your company. If you have failed them, it is most likely that customers are already “out there” spreading their message. And if they are delighted (as in most cases for solid organizations) you want to help them share their experiences. Great communities invite in the supporters and detractors and offer them a proverbial cup of tea. By engaging around hot topics, the company has a chance to learn more about key issues and resolve problems before they boil over.  In many cases, the most vocal outlier can become your strongest champion when treated with respect, and the brand supporters appreciate a vetted platform.

Great online community managers know how to share the reins of control, empower others, develop volunteer cadres, and support member-member interactions without losing control. They know how to lead and create balance in human power relationship.

Secret #5: Great online communities demonstrate tangible value over time. 

Great communities adhere to clear metrics and measures that align with the business (see Secret #1). Their value is firmly rooted in a business case that goes well beyond cost-reduction.  The metrics are focused on measuring the right things and not just that which is countable, regardless of whether the metric matters to anyone.

Great online community managers collaborate with business leaders (i.e. PSO, marketing, R&D, customer support) to develop meaningful business measures,  report outcomes (both leading and lagging indicators) on a regular basis, showcase progress against standard practice and serve the executive in communicating online community value in terms that matter to the business.

[This work was originally published on Vanessa’s blog, Leader Networks and is reposted here with her permission.]