New members feel special when welcomed

by Martin Reed on 7 September 2007 in Articles

Welcome new forum members

When a new member joins your community you are at a critical point – will they stay and get involved or will they leave, never to return? Ignore them, and they will soon leave and forget all about your community. Make them welcome, and they will feel valued and more likely to stick around.

It always pays to welcome new members

If your community is new, it makes sense to add a ‘Welcome’ or ‘Introductions’ section for new members to say hello and introduce themselves. Not only does this give the new member a reason to start posting, it also allows your members to make this person feel welcome and comfortable in your community.

It is highly likely that you have a user name or title that shows your status as the community administrator (if not, you should!). Similarly, your mods should be identifiable as staff members.

A welcome from other members makes a new member feel comfortable. A welcome from moderators makes a new member feel recognised. A welcome from the community administrator makes a new member feel special.

The benefits of welcoming new members

When your community is just getting off the ground, it is essential that you retain each and every new member and encourage them to get involved. If you want your members to spend time at your community, you need to spend time making them feel welcome.

Not only are you being polite by welcoming your new members, you are giving a great first impression of your community. You should always lead by example – if you are seen to be friendly and welcoming towards your members, the rest of your community will follow.

Welcoming new members helps break the ice and encourages a new member to get involved in your community. Many people register but do not find any topics they want to reply to. Some may be hesitant in starting a new forum thread.

Encouraging members to introduce themselves gets them used to engaging with your community. The responses from your existing members to their introduction can also encourage further interaction.

Develop the welcome into a conversation

When new members join the community at Soap Forum, they often post a message in the ‘Introductions’ area. Other members then welcome the user, including myself and my moderators.

When I welcome a new user, I always include a question to encourage them to continue interacting and get used to posting. As the forum is about TV soaps, I ask them what their favourite soaps are. These posts only take me a few seconds to make, but the impression they leave on the new member lasts far longer.

I have had new members tell me they are going to stick around solely based on the welcome they received from the staff and other members at Soap Forum. With feedback like that, can you afford not to welcome your new members?

Share this community building advice


Similar Posts

Previous post:

Next post:


Vyoma September 7, 2007 at 9:20 pm

This is a tip I have heard before, but a repeat worthy tip, neverthyless.

Some forum admins/moderators resort to automated PMs. I have chosen not to do so for the reason you specified – I type out each and every PM giving a personal touch to it. It informs them of what the forum is all about, hints on the guidelines section, and urges them to post at the Introduction section.

PS: There is a wealth of info on this blog – that I need. Bookmarking it for late night read. :P

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 7, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Vyoma – I think automated PMs can work as long as they don’t come across as automated.

Of course, nothing beats a hand written welcome – particularly if you tailor your welcome to your new member’s interests.

Thanks for your kind comment about my articles. I hope you enjoy trawling the archives!

Vyoma September 7, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Martin, actually I could not keep down my eagerness and have ‘trawled the archives’. :P

I have had not so good experiences with starting a forum. When I started it – it did not kick off. I reopened that forum, and all was going well – but I just could not come to sit in the back seat. (I could not even give the back seat a glance). I realized I had made some mistakes – and putting more effort into it meant I will be wasting my time. Lately though, I have taken up the challenge again. :) With lessons I learnt from previous to mistakes – of course.

And that brings me to the present, where I think I just finished reading almost all of your articles on Forum Development. :)

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 7, 2007 at 11:11 pm

Vyoma – That’s great to hear! I have just finished redesigning the archives section to make it far easier to navigate – instead of being greeted with every article I ever wrote, you can now browse by article title. This should help you find the articles that are really relevant to you.

I am glad to hear you are thinking about resuming the community building challenge once again! I hope you stick around and keep us all updated!

Warhammer September 8, 2007 at 6:56 pm

True, very nice info !

Eric Martindale September 9, 2007 at 7:28 am

Great tips! You’ve won over a new RSS subscriber, too. I’ll be watching your blog closely, and I’ll be attempting to deploy your suggestions on RolePlayGateway. If you ever have the chance – swing by and give us an evaluation!

Smiley September 10, 2007 at 7:07 am

I’m back after a short absence! Had to move everything to new servers and got rid of!

But yes, I agree wholeheartedly. I have a cash mod installed as I thought I owed it to my members to make it up to them for making them re-register etc etc, so installed a load of fun features for them to play with.

What I do is have a welcome forum and personally welcome all users – and I’ve found myself even taking your advice from an article a while back, checking out their profile BEFORE welcoming them, then asking them about an interest of theirs if they have put any, and I also give them “200 Smiley’s” as a sign up gift, so they can go off and play the quizzes or buy items from the virtual shop or play the virtual lottery or listen to music with it etc to get them involved with the other members.

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 10, 2007 at 5:45 pm

Warhammer – I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Do you welcome new members to your site? Do you find it effective?

Eric Martindale – Thanks for your comment and for subscribing to my RSS feed. I will definitely take a good look at your site when I get a spare moment.

Smiley – Welcome back! Sorry to hear you had to change servers – did you lose your database in the transfer?

I have never used the cash mod, but it sounds like it is working well for you. Making your welcomes personal definitely helps, and results in your members feeling special and valued.

Smiley September 10, 2007 at 11:27 pm

Yes, unfortunately I lost everything. Oh, I backed it up atleast 6 times a day ofcourse.. but found out I was backing up the wrong bloody SQL.

You should slap that into an article of yours somewhere, actually. It’s important to keep yourself organized and try not having all your important stuff scattered all over the place – I just learnt that the hard way, ha ha.

But I’ve bought a resellers and I control all my own stuff now, people are coming back, all it means is I need to work twice as hard to get the content up again, and provide new toys for loyal members to play with – I even bought them new chat software with emoticons, sounds, picture sending etc etc.

Dedication and work like that makes members feel special, too, because it rubs off on them and they know it’s all for them.

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 11, 2007 at 9:35 pm

Smiley – I am sorry to hear about the loss of your database but happy to see your determination to get back on track! Good luck!

Daniel B. Honigman September 12, 2007 at 2:15 pm

Martin –

Haven’t been here in a while, with my new job and all. Love the new site.

Welcoming new blog readers also serves another purpose: convincing older subscribers NOT to cancel their RSS feed. If they see that you’re appreciative, they’ll be less likely to stop reading your site, and they won’t see as much fluctuation on your FeedBurner counter as they may expect.

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 12, 2007 at 4:15 pm

Daniel – It’s great to have you back. I agree with you – by interacting with your readers (both old and new) you are maintaining and creating relationships.

When you have an established and on-going relationship with your readers, they are far less likely to want to leave.

Eric Martindale September 17, 2007 at 1:45 pm

On RolePlayGateway Role Playing Games, we’ve put together a special team on our site called the ‘Member Retention Team’. Their job starts with welcoming members, but extends into contacting members outside of the site and establishing good and solid relationships with them. It’s working extraordinarily well so far, and we’ve increased our member retention by more than double, just by finding one of these evangelists and putting them in charge of such a team.

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 17, 2007 at 2:58 pm

Eric – That is a fantastic idea; if you have the time and energy, then setting up a dedicated member retention team can really help ensure your members stick with your community.

Just make sure you give adequate guidelines as to what these team members can and can’t do (you don’t want to be accused of spamming).

Animal Crossing July 15, 2008 at 12:07 am

Hey thanks for the tip. I have a site of my own and from experience it is hard for people to stay. This is a great idea because I don’t have a intro forum yet but will make it now. Thanks a lot, I’ll get back to you on how much my site improved in a week. = ]

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 17, 2008 at 12:50 am

Animal – Just make sure that you pay attention to the introductions forum and encourage your existing members to do the same. Introduction forums are worthless if new members go there to introduce themselves but don’t receive any posts in reply!

{ 1 trackback }