The same problems always seem to appear. Usually, they have very similar solutions too. These solutions usually involve far less fancy trickery and far more real work engaging your community.
Problem 1: You’ve just launched and no-one is joining your community
If nobody is joining your community you need to spend more time on the promotion process. What would persuade you to join an online community? What type of communities would you join? How many people will join because they know you?
- Invite 5 members a day to join.
- Engage in relevant communities and interest groups to build your own profile, then invite your new friends to join.
- Narrow the focus of your community to a select social/interest group (you can broaden it later) and target them specifically.
- Call for community testers, ambassadors, VIP, experts and other positions of importance.
- Write to relevant news outlets announcing the launch of your community. Be sure to include industry magazines, you never know who might be having a slow news day.
Problem 2: No-one is responding to your invites
Low response means your invites are poor, you’re not targeting the right people or you need to build trust and relationships first.
- Ensure your invite offers something unique and useful to the recipient. Try using ego-appeals, self-interest and
- Spend time building relationships first, start a blog comment elsewhere, get to know dozens of people well enough that not only will they join, but they will invite others to join.
- Stop sending invites, tell your community it’s their role to recruit people for their community.
- Ask your target audience for their opinion of your community, they will join to give you an opinion.
- Ask your target audience what would be an awesome community – and adapt your community to be that.
- Close invites, only let people join on the first day of the month – and then only the first 50. Make joining day as exciting as your first day of college.
Problem 3: Members aren’t participating
Members don’t participate because they are not motivated to participate. What is the self-interested which participating will satisfy? How can they be more famous, powerful and make more friends? How is their ego/self-concept invested in your community?
- Develop regular content about members of the community.
- Mention the names of members often.
- Ask for thoughts, opinions and contributions on any relevant issues.
- Designate fixed times for events and chats to take place on the community.
- Offer opportunities to collect items (points/karma), move up levels (newbie, regular, veteran) and develop a reputation.
- Send out personal messages soliciting opinions
Problem 4: There is too much activity for me to moderate
This is a fantastic problem to have. If there is too much activity to moderate, stop trying. Moderate the efforts of your helpers, embed a spirit in the community which doesn’t breed activity that needs to be moderate.
- Recruit volunteer members to help.
- Relax or tighten the rules on what is allowed, write an unwritten rule, remove a written one.
- Make clear examples of people that break the rules.
- Encourage and make it simple for members to point out spam/dodgy comments at the click of a button.
- Pick the problem areas within your community, perhaps people or issues and focus on them instead.
What common problems and solutions have we missed here? Be sure to list your own.