Community building success from just one new member

by Martin Reed on 14 February 2014 in Snippets

One community member can make a difference

In the early stages of community building, you’ll spend a lot of your time attracting new members.

You’ll seek out your ideal members, build relationships with them and invite them to join your community.

There’s no denying that this can be a labor intensive process.

Getting members on board one by one may seem like a lot of work (even too much work), with relatively little payback.

However, what many inexperienced community managers don’t realize is that most online communities reach critical mass thanks to a small group of hardcore members (as few as five – or even fewer).

These members are obsessed by your community.

They come up with new topic ideas, keep discussions alive, and make your community more attractive and inviting.

So, next time you’re wondering whether it’s worth all the time and effort you’re putting into attracting new members when you end up convincing only one or two to join – the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

You never know the influence that one member will have on your community.

They could be the tipping point you’ve been waiting for.

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5 ways to address stalled community conversations

by Martin Reed on 16 October 2013 in Snippets

A very basic mistake I see being made time and time again in online communities (particularly new ones): failed threads.

I wrote about this back in 2009 but I still see it all too often, so today I am revisiting the topic.

If you’re seeing new conversations end before they’ve even begun (there’s a new topic posted but no responses after a couple of days), then you’re not being a proactive community manager.

This problem is most common in new online communities, or ones with low userbases. Give new topics at least 24 hours before jumping in. If there’s still no activity, it’s time to get involved.

1. Think of other community members you think would be interested in the conversation and reach out. Send them a private message or email. Tell them you think they’d be interested in the topic (and why) and that you would love to see them get involved.

2. Look outside your community. Who do you know (or who could you know) that will likely be interested in this new discussion? Reach out to them and invite them to get involved. Threads that once signaled a stagnant community could become one of the best recruiting tools for your community.

3. Draw attention to some new topics (not all of them, though) by highlighting them and their authors.

4. Highlight the best new discussions in your community newsletter and encourage involvement (you do have a community newsletter, right?).

5. Make a reply yourself. Make it meaningful.

There are plenty more ways you can encourage discussion in your online community. These 5 are simply designed to get you started and to get you thinking.

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You don’t need a fancy website to build an online community.

Going to your audience is far easier (and often more effective) than trying to get your audience to come to you.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to trip up and do this all wrong.

The big (and common) mistake

Simply spend money and bombard your audience with ‘relevant ads’ on social networking sites. Talk about yourself. Share corporate news. Fill News Feeds with product photos and price reductions.

That’s not building community, though. Or goodwill.

Instead, take a look at what smaller, local businesses are doing. They often do a far better job than any of the big brands.

Kelly’s Brighton Marina on the Nehalem Bay in Oregon, is a small local business. They are extremely active on Facebook.

They keep it personal. They aren’t writing about themselves all the time.

Instead, they write about (and share pictures of) the experience of being a part of their marina.

Lots of happy faces. Lots of stories. Tourists posing with their crab catches. Photos of Kelly, the owner, having fun and not taking himself too seriously.

The result?

Every post made on their Facebook page gets noticed. Likes and comments abound.

Customers share their stories and their experiences. Those who haven’t been or weren’t there on a specific day feel as though they’ve missed out.

They’re building a vibrant, active online community on Facebook in exactly the right way – for a financial outlay of $0.

Guess what? You can do the same.

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Community building without words

by Martin Reed on 30 June 2013 in Snippets

Sarcasm aside, there are some great shortcuts when it comes to community building.

My favorite is worth a thousand words.

Pictures.

Pictures (and more specifically, photos) are hugely underutilized and undervalued in online communities.

Community managers do a bad job of encouraging picture sharing and community software tends to make photo uploading cumbersome and unintuitive – particularly in a discussion based environment.

As a community manager, you need to lead by example. Every now and then, when you contribute to a discussion or start a new discussion topic, add a relevant photograph (preferably one with you in it).

Make sure it’s easy for members to add photos to discussions and turn the spotlight on those who take the hint and follow your lead.

Some community managers are scared that by encouraging photos, they’ll be discouraging discussion.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The two go hand in hand.

Prepare to be impressed by the results.

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Find that opportunity to engage your community

by Martin Reed 1 May 2013

There are so many opportunities to engage members of your online community. Think: Pets Children Relevant current affairs Member birthdays (but do it right) The welcome email (but do it right) Interesting hobbies (do you enjoy clam digging?!) Member achievements (in the community and in their personal lives) Community milestones (forget numbers – this is more […]

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If you want to charge for membership of your online community…

by Martin Reed 28 February 2013

Do it from the very beginning. Membership fees are but one way to monetize an online community. Two main strategies here: Allow members to join for free and encourage them to ‘upgrade’ to paid membership. Charge a one-off application fee just to get in. I recommend strategy 2. If you charge someone to join your […]

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Something in your community shouldn’t make sense

by Martin Reed 31 January 2013

I’m not talking about making your online community confusing or difficult to use. Instead, there should be at least one part of your online community that only ‘insiders’ understand. One of the biggest threats to online communities is growth. From a member’s perspective, it’s impossible to be friends with everyone. The larger the community, the […]

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Buzzing Communities: Book review

by Martin Reed 11 December 2012

Disclosure: My name was mentioned in this book and I received a free copy. However, this is an unsolicited and unsponsored book review that is completely of my own opinion. This review, for Richard Millington’s Buzzing Communities is only the third book review I have shared on Community Spark after Patrick O’Keefe’s Managing Online Forums […]

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An easy way to increase activity and engagement in new online communities

by Martin Reed 13 November 2012

Most new online communities fail because members don’t return to keep discussions alive or get involved in new ones. Most of the time that’s because new members haven’t developed the habit of regularly visiting the community or members simply forget that your community exists. Prevent this from happening by: 1. Making sure that all members […]

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Are you a proactive community manager?

by Martin Reed 5 September 2012

A great community manager is proactive. Being proactive separates a great community manager from the rest. Here’s a simple task for you. Write down all the ways you were proactive in the past week. Work them into your ‘standard operating procedure’. This will make you a better community manager. Here are a few things a […]

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