If it doesn’t cost anything to add an extra member to a community, then why not try to add as many as you can?
After all, once someone is a member they get emails and notifications. At some point, one of those contributions might be relevant and they engage and activity would rise!
But what if you did the opposite?
What if you set a limit on how many people can be a member at any one time and frequently re-evaluated the membership list (and criteria)?
This is what some of the most exciting groups are doing. Being a member now becomes a source of pride, it feels more exclusive, and there’s a pressure to contribute productively to retain your place. It becomes a place filled with high-quality contributions and overcomes the ‘free-rider’ problem.
You might also have a waiting list of people to join.
Intuitively, it makes sense the way to increase participation is to get more people to join. But the opposite, when well-executed, can be equally true. You can increase participation by downsizing or capping the number of people who can join the community too.
In doing so, you might create a far more engaging community experience.
It means soliciting content and initiating discussions that are most relevant to the majority of members.
Far too often I hear people looking for methods to drive more engagement. I’d much prefer we looked for methods to increase the quality of contributions.