Two simple tips can help you dramatically Increase the participation rate of your new online community members

One of the top goals of successful online communities is to engage new members to keep them coming back. Research shows that two specific tips can significantly increase the return rate of community members.

That’s part of the message Paul Resnick shared in a recent webinar sponsored by FeverBee, the online community Guide. Resnick is professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information and author of the book Building Successful Online Communities.

First, greet the member.

Make sure that the new member feels welcome. Your welcome email should be friendly and personable. If the member asks a question or comments on a thread, respond quickly.

Second, ask the member to do something specific.

This request should be consistent with the level of knowledge and skill your member has at this point. This could involve completing the member profile, or reading and responding to a recent post. Once members do something that helps the community, they begin to feel involved and validated.

“Ask and ye shall receive,” says Resnick. “Ask people to do stuff, don’t just wish it.” In one survey, there was a 5 times increase in activity when individual members were asked to do something.

And don’t just ask the group to do something. The power of your invitation decreases in relationship with the number of people being asked, so the very best invitation focuses on one person. Instead of asking your caregiver community, “Can anyone share how they cope with a parent with dementia?” ask, “Karen, can you tell us how you cope with your mom’s dementia?” 

A bonus tip

You can take these tips to the next level by incorporating the invitation in your welcome email. Instead of saying, “Visit our breast cancer treatment section to share or comment,” say “right now you can help answer Jeri’s question about best energy-boosting foods while going through chemotherapy.”

Apply these two tips to your new member on boarding and you’ll be surprised what a difference it can make in community involvement.

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