Month: October 2008
Here are a few points worth making to a client. Adapt and edit it however you like.
You can create an online community in less than an hour. Any of your employees can. It doesn't require any difficult technical knowledge. Technology isn't the challenge anymore, it gets easier every day.
Relationships have never been harder. Especially ones that benefit you. Persuading people to join, motivating them to participate and fostering deep relationships is the difference between success and failure. If you're like most people, you don't know where to begin.
Budget more for building relationships than the interface. It's less risky and more successful. Don't spend one big sum on the interface. Spend smaller amounts developing it as the popularity grows. This even rewards your members, they will appreciate you for it.
If your community is struggling, tell the members. It might bond them together.
You can celebrate every week your community still exists. You can rally people to survive. You can take emergency actions to keep the community going.
In extreme times, you can have a lot of fun. You might still fail, but you will fail having fun. Remember to reward the loyal
You can get one person to join your community quite easily. Just ask them nicely. But can you motivate them to invite their friends? Who invite their friends? That’s thinking 3 moves ahead, every community builder should be doing it.
Are you thinking 3 moves when building your online community? What about your marketing or advertising strategy?
Here’s an example:
A customer buying your product is 1 move ahead. Giving that customer an extra copy to give away in a competition is two moves ahead. The winner of that competition telling their friends is 3 moves ahead.
How would you react? Happy?
You might mention it to others. You would write more brilliant comments. You would feel appreciated, it’s a great feeling.
What if I paid $20 into your PayPal account?
It’s just become work.
How much will you charge next time? Will you work less if you don’t get paid? Will others now want to be paid?
Money makes communities implode. So send flowers, fruit baskets, chocolates and invitations to special events. Surprise gifts bring out the best in people, money brings out the worst.
Note. Read Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational – It’s a brilliant book and tests this theory beautifully.
What would you do if someone turned up uninvited at your party? Look at them skeptically? Throw them out? Now what would you do if someone arrived at your community from a search engine?
Community building is entirely about building relationships that last. Examine your social group, I bet there is an intricate network of ties that connect your friends with each other. New members come in through one of these ties. Like a community, people invite their friends, who invite their friends. Everyone is there because everyone wants them to be.
Search engine traffic is different. I would treat them differently, even skeptically. First, assume any visitors from search engines are simply bonus to the work you’re doing. It should never be part of a community building strategy. Second, I’d push them to build relationships with members quickly, or leave.
Why not put a ‘Just Arrived from Google’ thread on the forum, or a page just for these people? Include a brief primer about the community, hot topics and actions they can take to build relationships quickly.
Read about community development.
Forget all about the internet for a weekend. Discover the ideas of people who have been building communities for centuries. If you enjoy building communities, then this should be a lot of fun.
Dig as deep into the theory of community development and pull out a few great ideas. It’s an easy way to be better than other community builders.
Communities are about people, not technology.
Here are three books to get you started.
You shouldn’t target the influencers just yet. Not if you’re in the very early stages of building your online community.
Right now, you just want people who are enthusiastic, technologically capable with the time to commit. You want people that are easy to reach through the noise, not those bombarded with it.
When your community has been going a month or two, that’s the time to target the influencers.
One more thing. Tackling poverty has never been so easy. Every single person can now make a colossal difference, so long as we care to.
Distance, knowledge and financial barriers have been obliterated. You can find a person, family or village in poverty, talk to some experts about what they need to solve their problems and set about doing it.
You don’t need the blessing of anyone. You could do this right now. All the experts, the means of collecting money and the means of sending money are right at your fingertips.
Isn’t that brilliant? We live in a society where most of us can make a major difference to poverty without standing up.
It’s Blog Action Day. That’s a big problem for a lot of people. How do you get people to go from talking online to taking meaningful action?
This challenge trips up more online communities than I care to remember. How can you get your community to take action without compromising your trust with them?can you make take action without it coming as a shock? Or compromising what brought people there in the first place?
Here are 3 ideas:
1) The Cause. Build a community to achieve one objective. Strive to fix something in the world, perhaps poverty. Every member joins knowing that they are working towards taking a real-world action.
2) Build up actions. Get your community used to taking actions. Begin simply. Maybe ask members to vote on a poll in a rival site, or participate in a discussion elsewhere. Then e-mail or write a letter to an editor or person of importance. Then arrange meetings, co-organise events, donate money, recruit others. You can even create roles for people in charge of activism.
3) Who’s In? Demanding your members take action, or spamming them into submission, are two very bad ideas. Instead, set out a clear agenda and then ask “who’s in?”. These people get real insider stuff. They get invited to a secret community that the others don’t have access to. They get made to feel a part of something special. You have the armed forces, then you have MI6. Make this a community within your community.
It’s dangerous to force an action upon your community. Tread carefully doing it, and work with sensitivity.
I think you should have one.
Any time you see anything that makes people unite or come together, you should rip the core of the idea and stick it into your playbook.
I don’t care if it’s a news story, a marketing strategy or even something that happened on the way to work. Find the chewy centre of the idea and figure out how it can be done online. Any event, any person and catalyst that brings people together, even if just for a matter of moments, is worth adding to your playbook.
Imagine you did this once a day for a year. You would have 365 ‘plays’ you could make to build an online community. That sounds quite impressive to me
It’s quite easy to spot what’s going wrong.
If the people you invite don’t visit the website, you’re invitation isn’t good enough.
If the people visit but don’t sign up, the interface isn’t right.
If people sign up but don’t stick around, you’re not properly welcoming them into the community.
If people become regular members but don’t invite others, you’re not motivating them to do so.
If people invite others but they don’t join, you’re not giving them the tools and information they need to do it.
If people don’t visit the website as much as they used to, you’re not fostering the relationships and involvement they need.
It’s very easy to spot what’s broken. So fix the problems quickly.
So spend more time on newcomers than on your regulars. Plan a schedule to keep newcomers engaged for the first 21 days. Here are a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing.
- Early Achievements. Casinos are designed to give people small early payouts. Games like WoW let people accelerate through the early levels quickly. Early achievements work suck people in for the long haul. Find a way to let newcomers achieve something with a limited amount of effort.
- Newcomer of the month award. Tell each member they’ve been entered for the newcomer of the month award. Create a hall of fame and a criteria. Makes it competitive.
- Buddy System: A little cheesy. But why not pair new members up with a buddy for their first 21 days? Or give them their own groups. If they go missing, the buddy can chase them up.
- Newbie Rituals. Have something every newcomer passes down to the next person. Maybe a secret password? Perhaps an eBook which everyone can contribute a page to?
- Weekly Newcomer List. Everyone gets a chance to write a sentence that best describes them, introduce themselves to the group, highlight what they wan to contribute.
- Introduce new members to groups. Ask newcomers what their interests are, then specifically introduce them (CC e-mails!) to people with similar interests.
- A topical primer. Send all newcomers a quick overview of the hot issues in the community. Then invite them to offer their fresh perspective. Be sure to respond to their posts. This gets them caught in the whirlwind of discussion (which keeps people coming back!).
- Assign a role. Give newcomers a sense of responsibility over something. Perhaps something simple, like ideas for improving the joining-process. Or encouraging new members to be engaged.
- Have a graduation. What can you offer once they’ve stayed engaged for 21 days? Why not have a mini-graduation for new members? Let them customise their pages more or join more elite groups? Give them a badge for their profiles. They can even brag about achievements.
Do you have some experience of keeping new members engaged for the first 3 weeks? Post them in the comments here.