5 ways to show your members you love them

by Martin Reed on 6 October 2007 in Articles

Love your online community members!

If you are developing an online community, it is vital that you convert as many visitors into members as possible. It is no good going to all the effort of converting visitors if you are unable to get them to stick around and contribute, though!

In this article I will describe the five best ways of showing your members that you love them! Members who feel loved are more likely to stick around, get involved and become loyal, long term enthusiasts of your community.

Tip 1 – Listen to your members

If you don’t listen to your members, why should you expect them to contribute to your community? People don’t want to raise a point and then be ignored. Think about a real-life situation when you spoke to someone and they ignored you. It hardly encouraged you to speak to them again in the future, did it?

If your members lose the inclination to speak, your community is doomed. You need to encourage all interaction; even if people are talking rubbish that you don’t agree with, you should still listen and show that you are doing so.

If your members serve up suggestions on how they think you can improve the community, show that you are listening. Even if their suggestions are ridiculous, you should always thank them for their contribution and share your thoughts on their suggestion. Make sure you are tactful if you disagree with them – you don’t want to make them feel stupid; they will then be less likely to come up with any more suggestions in the future and you make scare other members away from coming up with ideas that may be fantastic after they have seen you shoot down another member in flames!

Tip 2 – Involve your members in decisions

You should always see your community as belonging to its members. All too often, forum administrators see a community as belonging solely to them as an individual. One person does not a community make. Start seeing your community as being collectively ‘owned’ by its members. If your members aren’t happy about something, you need to take action.

It is always wise to be pro-active in this area, though and involve your members in all decisions related to the community. If you are considering a redesign, share the drafts with your members and invite feedback and suggestions. If you are considering a new feature, share your idea and perhaps run a beta version for your members to try out.

Getting your members involved in decision making gives them a sense of shared ownership of the community. They will feel valued and respected, and are far more likely to stick around for the long term.

Tip 3 – Get involved in the community

Members will hardly feel inspired to get involved in your community if you fail to do so yourself. Whether you like it or not, you are the most important influence in your community, and can help establish its personality and the behaviour of your members.

If you are welcoming to new members, it is likely that other members of your community will act just the same. If you share a quirky sense of humour, it is likely that other members of your community will adopt a similar style.

If you can’t be bothered to get involved in your community, how can you expect your members to create content for you? Getting involved not only shows members you are committed to the success of the community, it makes you more approachable, personal and human.

Remember – people like talking to people, not numbers or usernames. Show them that you are a real person – it sounds ridiculous but it is easy to forget that behind each username lies a human being.

Tip 4 – Respond to emails

Failing to respond to emails gives people the impression that you don’t care about them or any issues related to the community. This is the last impression you want to give people. You want them to see you as pro-active, enthusiastic and dedicated to your members.

It can be hard dealing with a huge number of emails, but there are ways you can reduce the number of emails you receive. If you need additional motivation to respond to emails, try installing a ticketing system such as Helpdesk Pilot.

Tip 5 – Tell your members you love them!

The best way to show the members of your community that you love them is to tell them! There is no need to gush your heart and soul out to them every day, but announcements every now and them thanking them for their contributions, feedback and suggestions really helps them feel valued.

If you have a mailing list, thank your members for any successes you are sharing with them. At Christmas, wish your members good fortune and thank them for being involved in your community. Whenever you share milestones in your site’s development, thank them for their contribution.


These were only my five tips for showing your members that you love them. Do you agree/disagree with them? Do you have any ideas that I have not mentioned? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.

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Smiley October 6, 2007 at 8:05 pm

Excellent article, Martin. I’ve already adopted all those five ways and people should take note of one particular statement of yours there.

As a community owner, you ARE the biggest influence there. I’ve realized this and have had to change the way I am in my chat & boards quite a bit to reflect that.

I have noticed that people do follow in my foot steps. Every single new person that enters is greeted and made to feel welcome. The atmosphere is banterful & light-hearted and the regular members all have “jabs” at each other in a battle of wits as myself and my favourite staff member have often been seen publically “belittling” each other in a friendly fashion for a laugh – it’s amazing how many people start “taking after you”. So I’ve started watching what I do & say very closely now and started being more responsible.

I agree with the community not being solely owned by the community “owner”, too. I make it very clear that Friendly Chat is owned by its members; I’m merely the guy who makes sure it runs smoothly for the people who are really in charge, the members.

Tyson Williams October 6, 2007 at 8:56 pm

Nice points, people often forget the social aspect of the communities they are involved in.

Chris October 8, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Once you start slipping on these simple things, it’s OVER! I use polls, contests, etc to keep people engaged. Contests are awesome because you make the winner really happy (if there’s a prize), and you can get a lot of outside traffic on the forum. Good post.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 8, 2007 at 11:09 pm

Smiley – You would be surprised at the number of forums I come across where it is obvious that the administrator just doesn’t understand that members will follow in his/her footsteps. What’s more, many seem to think they ‘own’ the community and rule it with an iron fist. Needless to say, these communities don’t come across as particularly inviting places!

Tyson – Thanks for your comment, I am glad you enjoyed the article. It can be easy to forget that behind each username is a real person!

Chris – I agree; if you lose the momentum, you will find it hard to recover. You really need to work at keeping your community active 100% of the time.

Smiley October 11, 2007 at 12:09 am

I agree. I’ve started being a tad more responsible now. I voice my opinions, but I don’t do it in such a way where people feel they can’t disagree.

So now debate is being encouraged, and welcomed with open arms.

I let the most popular member of the site have quite a large say in the general running of the community. He acts as a sort of representative to the users, it’s really built up a good trust between the whole community. It’s a neat little system, and works.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 11, 2007 at 12:41 am

Smiley – Welcoming and encouraging debate is a key ingredient of any successful community; by being less assertive with your own personal opinions you are encouraging more of your members to get involved.

Hirsutism October 23, 2007 at 5:37 am

Very well written. I feel it is this welcoming nature of this blog that it converts all its visitors into it’s members.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 23, 2007 at 5:22 pm

Hirsutism – Thanks for your kind comment; I am glad you are enjoying the blog. I love reading (and responding to) all comments from my readers.

Hirsutism October 24, 2007 at 4:45 am

You are most welcome Martin. I enjoy reading communityspark.

Play arcade games January 28, 2008 at 2:24 am

been a part of to many communities that take their members for granted and ignore their suggestions, and what they all seem to have in common is that the members leave them and they die out

Martin Reed - Blog Author January 28, 2008 at 11:50 am

Play – I agree with you. A community that takes its members for granted will struggle to develop into a successful, friendly and approachable community in the long term.

lvcjmac March 6, 2008 at 8:59 pm


Great article. There are so many quality forums/membership sites on the web that it is suicide for someone to take their members for granted.

I think your third tip is really stellar. I think back to the different communities I’ve been involved in and the ones that were the most beneficial were the ones were the owner/developer/caretaker was involved in the day to day interaction.

Martin Reed - Blog Author March 15, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Ivcjmac – Thanks for your comment. It’s always good to hear from a reader that has experienced evidence of what I say! Just proves that every now and then I do talk some sense!

Recetas de Postres August 25, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Well, one of the things I have always tried to do from day one is your #3. If you don’t, people automatically feel like they are just posting on another site. Once the owner/webmaster gets in, people feel like they really care and continue to interact. The key word there is INTERACT. You must create an interactive experience from day one, or people will go somewhere they can get that.

Another tip is to get good moderators on your side. There will always be squabbles, but if you have a dedicated team behind you, you’ll find it much easier to get rid of the bad apples. Another thing that comes in really handy is using the mod team to combat spam. Just make sure you always tell/show them how much you appreciate what they are doing. Give them special privileges or access to a secret forum.

People will develop a sense of ownership of the site over the long run if you just put your time into the forum/blog, and keep adding quality content. It sounds simple, and it is for the first year or so – but when you have to keep up the same quality over the years, it can really get tough! Good luck everyone, and thanks Martin for this great blog, which I’ve just discovered.

Sally December 29, 2008 at 1:37 am

Yes, these are all good points. While I am not an owner of a site, I have been a member of several of them. I can usually tell if Admin is still interested and engaged or if they are tired and getting a little burnt out. Emails that I send (just on basic things) that are not responded to are always are very bad sign. Admin staff that only caters to a core group of their favorites is another mistake. After a while others get so intimidated that they become even more silent and removed. It becomes a pattern.

Chris Altesino April 13, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I don’t think you can really start a good community without truly loving the topic. Its consuming so you better enjoy all the time you spend on it. There’s no way to fake it.

This post is a little dated but today I’d also suggest using twitter. Its a great additional way to connect with users.

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