Will your users be happy tomorrow?

by Martin Reed on 17 July 2007 in Snippets

You are working hard at developing your online community and thanks to your fantastic content you are now converting visitors into loyal members. Everything is going great – your task is complete. Or is it?

Just because your members are happy today it does not mean they will remain happy in the future. You must ensure you are constantly developing and improving your online community to prevent these members you worked so hard to attract from leaving to go elsewhere.

Always plan for the future

Prepare for the futureIt is essential that all your decisions involve consideration of the future – future trends, future features and future tastes. Your community may well be going great guns right now, but how do you plan on developing things further?

What if new forum software is released and becomes the next big thing? What if your members move your community in a whole new direction you had not planned for? You should always be planning the future direction for your community.

I hate to use such a cliché, but failing to plan really is planning to fail.

Listen to your members

Listening to your visitorsAs I have written in previous articles, it is essential for you to listen to your members. Without them you have no community. If they begin requesting new features or a new direction, listen to them. Always take their comments on board and show that you actively welcome their feedback at all times.

Your members will often be your best barometer for predicting any changes that you need to make to continue developing and expanding your online community.

Take a long term approach to your online community

When you started your online community you knew that a lot of hard work would be involved in order to attract visitors and convert them to members. You planned for this stage of your community’s development. Don’t stop planning once things are working well – continue to plan, and continue to listen to your members at all times.

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Smiley July 17, 2007 at 8:51 pm

Yes, I agree.

I care about my members a great deal. Not just because they use my site. I care about genuine people who just want to chat full stop, that’s why I’ve worked hard over the years on several different sites as staff trying to help them and keeping the perverts out etc.

I treat my loyal members good, because without them my site is nothing. My site, being new, is dead right now, I’m not even ranked on Google yet, according to Matrix statistics I’m being found by only approximately 50-80 people per day through search engines, I guess that isn’t too bad for just 6-7 weeks, so I’m slowly growing, but without loyal regular members to be there to welcome these new people, I’d be up shit creek!

I take their comments, criticisms, suggestions etc very seriously. I’m very involved with my members. I hesitate to call them “users” as I think the term “user” is very impersonal, and makes people feel unimportant. “Oh, you’re just a user. You’re nothing”

Whereas ‘member’ means they’re actually PART of the site.

I often have a chit chat with my regular members in the chat room and in PM on the boards, I think they’re comfortable knowing if they’re ever unhappy about something, they can tell me without any backlashes.

That makes me feel good knowing that.

I seem to be doing all these things right, but the worse thing a community owner can make, which I make often, is be impatient. I often lose my rag at not getting found quicker. I’m against spamming and I’ve told 2 of my loyal members off, because they decided on their own to go and spam to fill up the room.

These members got quite annoyed because I told them off for spamming, which in their eyes, they were just trying to help advertise the site, and now they’re not spamming the chat room is dead again until it gets found through organic links..

I really don’t know whether I was right in telling them off or not, perhaps I should have explained more calmly as to why I am against spamming.

Vic July 18, 2007 at 4:18 am

Blogging is a never ending job that is why i feel those of us that succeed is because we love what we do. It was not work induced by an ebook on how to get blogging riches

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 18, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Smiley – I agree, the term ‘user’ can be a little impersonal; I need to cut down the number of times I use it on this blog.

To this day I often make decisions or respond to people in ways I later regret. The best thing to do is not respond to emails that raise your emotions for at least 24 hours. This gives you time to put things in perspective and ensure your response is adequate and professional.

Vic – I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t realise just how much hard work was involved in blogging until I started doing it myself!

I like what I saw over at your blog and will make time to have a full read over your content in the next couple of days.