Entertaining content is designed to keep members coming back out of interest. When you see organizations publish humorous content, you’re seeing content that is designed to entertain.
However, there is one particular type of content members find most entertaining; content about themselves. People have a craving to know what people like themselves are doing.
The best content for a community is content about the community.
This might include interviews with members, the latest updates about the lives of members, people on the move, and even a gossip column would work in some communities.
WARNING – Don’t Create a Notice Board
If you treat your community like a notice board, your members will ignore it like a notice board.
Communities were little more than a notice board of new articles with no debate, discussions, or any exciting activities. You shouldn’t post the same content in the community as you would anywhere else. I’ve seen press releases posted in some communities, it’s a terrible waste of the community’s attention.
Activities and Events
An easy way to stimulate activity is to initiate an event.
An event doesn’t have to be a grand-scale conference, it can mean any time-limited activity which is hosted by your community.
Note there’s a difference there between hosted by your community and hosted on your community. While your platform might enable you to host some kinds of events, it’s quite likely you have to use external tools to host events.
The great thing about events is they complement your content efforts and let members participate in a shared experience. This helps both drive activity and unite members.
Some common types of activities include:
- A sprint/hackathon. Among the most famous kinds of events are sprints or hackathons. This is where a group of people work rapidly over a limited amount of time (often 24 hours to 1 week) to create something of value. For example, you might set members a challenge to post their definitive list of newcomer resources, create a guide to a resource, tag or update a large amount of content, or simply develop their first app/story/project using your software/tools/advice. These tend to be the most valuable.
- Quiz. Live quizzes can be fun. The key is to set the question and give awards to the member who can post the answer first. Members get their ranking at the end. These should increase the knowledge and expertise of members.
- Mentoring groups. Create a time-limited mentoring group where people can put themselves forward to mentor other members. Make sure you have members who want to be mentored too.
- Live webinars. Host live webinars tackling a definitive topic. You can even invite members to put themselves forward to host a webinar for other members. During this webinar, they can do a breakdown of what they’re working on. Keep the recording and share it within the community.
- Offline gatherings. Members can put themselves forward to host an offline event for people in their area. You can promote events to other members. Even better, you can set a specific day for them to do this.
- Conferences. We have already covered how best to connect offline events with the community, just remember to facilitate plenty of time for community members to meet and connect with other community members.
There’s no shortage of possible events you can host here. The best events are those which help members feel like they can make a useful contribution, are exciting and engaging to participate in, and leave behind a valuable asset for other members.
You have a choice between one-off and regular events. Usually, it’s best to setup a one-off event and see how it goes before committing to something more regular. With regular events, be mindful of the novelty effect. This is when an event is exciting at first but it’s popularity soon fades and participation dwindles.
Ensure each event is closely aligned to a particular goal members have. It’s a lot easier to have 3 to 5 big activities than to try to do one every other week. The purpose of activities is to increase engagement, build a stronger sense of community among members, and try to create or do something most members find valuable.
For this reason, I’d recommend staying away from frivolous events. A ‘Secret Santa’ might be fun, but it’s probably not going to resonate for members a year from now. Any event you want to host should benefit the entire community and be valuable over the long-term.