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?