Forget about the web design, new technology features and other expensive goodies. Here are simple steps you can take to improve your online community right now.
- Talk to less members more often. Reduce your workload by focusing on developing strong relationships with the influential members of your community and spending less time developing shallow relationships with the rest.
- Increase the number interactions. Interactions are the first layer to friendships. You can’t be friends with someone you’ve never had an interaction with. More interactions leads to more friends. However, people need excuses to interact. Few people introduces themselves to strangers. Create this excuse. Solicit opinions from people that hold a vested interest in a discussion, create a challenge to overcome, create a poll for people to vote. Call for suggestions about the community’s future etc…
- Remove unused features. Remove any feature that isn’t used. Remove dead links, dry content and areas of the website nobody visits. Focus on the popular discussions and content, remove the dead wood.
- Mention names more often. In your public news posts, forum features or any other material where members get their dose of community news, mention individual members more often. Try to mention several names a day. This, in turn, should cause you to focus on what members are doing rather than on what you want to say (which is a good thing).
- Arrange time-specific activities. Try to foster some near real-time interaction e.g. A guest VIP chat, a webinar, a weekly discussion, a joint challenge, a competition etc… Real time interaction fosters stronger relationships than adhoc debates.
- Advertise for a volunteer helper. Just one. Keep volunteer opportunities scarce. Ask for one helper to become a head-admin of the community. Put the person in charge of some moderation, growth, business development and other tasks.
If you have any tips of your own, add them below. Be sure to read Martin Reed’s suggestions from a few months ago too.