How to drive interaction for online communities?

Jesse Hopps's picture
Rockstar
Jesse Hopps
Rockstar
Jesse Hopps wrote:

We recently launched the Demand Metric community and we are keen to make it a fun, interactive environment for Marketers.  Does anyone have any experience building communities that can lend some advice for how to drive interaction and participation?

Any ideas would be most welcome.

Thanks!

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7 Answers

Cheryl Woodhouse's picture
Influencer
Cheryl Woodhouse
Influencer
Cheryl Woodhouse wrote:

In my experience, the fastest way to get people engaged in an online community is to offer them the benefit of ego stroking. It might sound shallow, but allowing people to create something in your online community and receive praise and recognition for it is the entire point of participating for many people.

Emailing weekly digest emails to those members who choose to receive them of the top choice/most popular conversations would also drive engagement. People need to see where they can contribute (this is why LinkedIn groups work so well with the Daily Digest feature.)

I would also split-test the engagement you get calling it a member "Lounge" vs. something that implies action ("think tank"? "situation room"? "boardroom"? "whiteboard"?) - lounge seems like something you participate in during downtime, and we're all busy marketers here. You want the member lounge to become THE place to interact with other marketing minds, its title should reflect that.

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A. David Boomstein's picture
Contributor
A. David Boomstein
Contributor
A. David Boomstein wrote:

While "stroking" might work well for the egotists in the group, I feel it only goes so far. If you don't have the viewership, it's rather empty; sort of like mental masturbation.

In order to attract and maintain viewership, the community / site, etc. needs to have a number of traits:

  1. A topic area of interest.
    • If the topic targets a rather small or highly select interest group you just will not get a large viewership. Although you might have a high percentage of the small followers.
    • If no one cares about the subject matter, well: garbage in, no pull.
  2. A title that creates a draw.
    • While I'm not a believer in hype, a little descriptive sizzle can help attract the early adopters.
  3. A plan(s) for the continual addition of content.
    • To attract the early adopters, you need to provide stimulus that will generate dopamine in their brains to allow the reward-motivated behavior revved up.
  4. A moderator during the early growth stage.
    • Close monitoring, especially early on, will allow you to pose those stimulating discussions that get the community going and eventually self-functional.
    • The moderator / facilitator can also do the requisite stroking to give the early adopters the needed impetus to contribute as well as promote the topic board.
  5. Promotion.
    • Sorry, if you create it they will not just come. Somehow they need to find out about it. Simply said, "Promote, Promote, Promote!"
    • Promotion is different than "hype!" few things in their early stages can live up to the hype and since ultimates are seldom created on release 1.0, considerable bad word-of-mouth can ensue when hype is followed by a severe let down.
  6. Great service.
    • The community needs not only to work from a functional standpoint, but some value-added offerings can be a quick way to attract the interested "late majority" and "laggards."

 

Well, that's my two cents for now. What does the group think?

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Danny Brown's picture
Contributor
Danny Brown
Contributor
Danny Brown wrote:

Base the strategy on the underlining goal.

  • How is this community different from the countless other marketing communities around? What will members get that isn't available elsewhere?
  • Who are the target members - other marketers, peers, potential clients for DM and analysts, etc? It's no good going for a wide range - think of an unmet niche and how DM will fill that.
  • Identify the core audience, and then who impacts their decisions to join something like this. Then develop a strategy to work with these people, to get your desired "crowd".

Apart from that, all good suggestions above - I'm looking at it from a more focused approach.

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Ian Pickering's picture
Expert
Ian Pickering
Expert
Ian Pickering wrote:

I agree Cheryl, and I would add that discussing specifics that will lead to success helps get people involved also. Encouraging some discussion of "wins" gets people involved- maybe even more than asking for opinion about difficult situaltions. This is also essentially ego stroking.

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Nilda G. Thomas's picture
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Nilda G. Thomas
Contributor
Nilda G. Thomas wrote:

I like Cheryl's suggestion of changing member "Lounge" to "think tank" or "situation room" as these terms will draw members to click on the link and participate. Also, people want to know WIIFM (what's in it for me?) the new thing is giving something "free" to a contributor...perhaps after the first time and every 5th time they contribute.

Other suggestion:
*Promote Job Boards only for the community

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Jessica Rohloff's picture
Advisor
Jessica Rohloff
Advisor
Jessica Rohloff wrote:

I read a great blog post by Alexis Ohanian about how he and his co-founder built the Reddit community, arguably one of the largest, strongest communities on the internet. Interestingly, when they first started out, the vast majority of activity was the two of them posting under different usernames to create the impressoin of activity. It's important for people to see that there are things going on when they join a new community -- if it's a ghost town the first time they visit, people are unlikely to come back. 

Here's the full post. It's a few years old, but definitely worth a read: http://alexisohanian.com/how-reddit-became-reddit-the-smallest-biggest

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Lauren Follett's picture
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Lauren Follett
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Lauren Follett wrote:

Really interesting Jessica - thanks for sharing!

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