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.