There is a critical moment and set of actions that must occur when a member makes their first contribution to a community for them to make a second contribution.
We used to declare that organisations should respond to a member's contribution within 24 hours.
The speed of response to a member's initial post plays a critical role in determining whether a member will participate again.
Check the difference between responding within the first 5 hours and responding within 24 hours.
That's 53% within five hours and around 10% after 24 hours.
But even five hours is a long time. Let's break this down into 300 minutes.
If you respond within the first 15 to 25 minutes, there is 90% chance of a second contribution. If you respond after the first hour, this drops to less than 60%.
This means you need to do the following:
1) Be notified of a member making a first contribution. Add a script to the site that will send you an e-mail notification when a member has made their first contribution. Make this go to you, your moderation team, or your volunteers.
2) Have volunteers or moderators respond. If you don't personally respond, have your volunteers or moderators respond.
However, generic "thank you for your contribution" responses don't encourage further contributions.
You need to respond in an authentic way. There are three parts to this.
1) Ask a clarifying question/for more information. Ask how they came to that opinion, ask for greater context, ask for anything that encourages the person to participate again.
2) Reveal your own experience/expertise in the topic. Reveal information about yourself (relevant to the initial post). Even if it's limited experience. Members have a greater sense of responding to a real person.
3) Don't resolve the question. Don't be the overzealous moderator that definitively resolves the question. This limits further discussion. No-one else will participate. You want members to answer the questions, not the moderators.
Around 40 to 90% of members who make a first contribution never participate again. These are figures we can change.
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