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Tactics for Online Community

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10 Tactics for Building
Online Community
Introduction - Presenters
• Heather McKeon Miller - National
Council on Aging
• Matt Howe, Executive Director, Our
Giving Community
• Christopher Dworin, VP, Business
Development, GoLightly
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Introduction - First Steps
• Determine whether and how online
community will benefit your organization
• Choose appropriate tools given your
budget, goals, and expected level of
engagement
• Be prepared to devote sufficient staff time
and resources to nurturing and growing
the community
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
10 Tactics - Summary
• 1) Let the potential members of the community know why
you are providing an online community, and how being an
active member of a community would benefit them.
• 2) Use every opportunity to showcase your online
community.
• 3) Seed the community with groups, forum postings, blogs,
etc., so that early adopters aren’t faced with an “empty”
community.
• 4) Make it as easy as possible for people to sign up and to
use the community tools.
• 5) Designate a staff person to be the facilitator or moderator
of the community.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
10 Tactics - Summary, cont.
• 6) Acknowledge those members who use the community
frequently.
• 7) Seek input from the members on your organization’s
agenda and other organizational issues. Take what you learn
from the community and put it into practice in the
organization.
• 8) Use wiki and/or forum functionality to publish ongoing
lists of group events.
• 9) Announce new initiatives and other important
organizational news in the community first.
• 10) Keep the community content fresh.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 1 - Let Your Members Know Why
• Let the potential members of the
community know why you are
providing an online community, and
how being an active member of a
community would benefit them.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 2 - Showcase Your Community
• Use every opportunity to showcase your online
community
•
a) Introduce it to your members in an initial
introductory email, and then in periodic follow up
emails.
•
b) In your regular newsletter, mention and link
to an interesting forum thread, or welcome new
groups that have been formed, etc.
•
c) On the home page and on any normal landing
pages that visitors come to on your website, have
links, or better yet include a call out or some text
about the community.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 2 - Showcase Your Community, cont.
•
d) Put into the community library all
documents and files that your organization would
like to make available to your members.
•
e) Set up occasional forums on topical events
to keep refreshing the content.
•
f) Set up a feed on the home page of your
website, and other highly trafficked pages
bringing in new blog posts. This will help keep
your website fresh, as well.
•
g) Promote the community through any other
existing discussion lists your organization
maintains.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 2 - Showcase Your Community, cont.
•
h) Add an invitation to join the community in
staff email signatures. Include a link to the join
page in that invitation.
•
i) Collect emails from contacts at any online or
offline events so that you can send a reminder
email about participating in your online
community.
•
j) Mention the community in physical
descriptions of your organization (brochures,
hand-outs, articles, promotional materials,
advertising, etc.)
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 3 - Seed the Community
• Seed the community with groups, forum
postings, blogs, etc., so that early
adopters aren’t faced with an “empty”
community.
Don’t set up too many forums to start
with, until usage rises and you can
determine what additional forums would
be well received.
Invite selected members prior to public
launch to participate and to help seed the
community with comment and other
content.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 4 - Make it Easy
• Make it as easy as possible for people to
sign up and to use the community tools.
If your community is closed to nonmembers, be sure to add accessible
descriptions of the community in your list
of membership benefits to entice nonmembers to become members.
Help new users to adopt the tools quickly,
by giving them simple directions for use
(e.g., NTEN’s explanation at the top of the
forums telling users what they can do).
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 4 - Make it Easy
• Make it as easy as possible for people to
sign up and to use the community tools.
If your community is closed to nonmembers, be sure to add accessible
descriptions of the community in your list
of membership benefits to entice nonmembers to become members.
Help new users to adopt the tools quickly,
by giving them simple directions for use
(e.g., NTEN’s explanation at the top of the
forums telling users what they can do).
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 5 - Designate a Facilitator or Moderator
• Designate a staff person to be the facilitator or moderator of
the community, checking periodically to make sure that
members are using the forums and other tools as intended,
encouraging members to “speak up”, enforcing the rules if
necessary (e.g., taking down posts that contain
inappropriate language or purpose), and making sure that
comments & questions about the organization are
acknowledged and answered, as appropriate.
As the community grows and some of your members stand
out for the frequency and usefulness of their posts, you can
invite those members to become moderators of a particular
forum. Leveraging the community member base can also
reduce staff time. On being a good facilitator, see
http://www.rheingold.com/texts/artonlinehost.html.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 6 - Acknowledge Community Members
• Acknowledge those members who
use the community frequently.
This acknowledgment can be made
within the community site itself, in
the organization’s newsletters, or the
organization’s main website, etc.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 7 - Seek and Use Members’ Input
• Seek input from the members on your organization’s agenda
and other organizational issues.
Make sure to include at least one forum and one group that
are focused on the organization’s own operations. Actively
use such a forum or group to solicit feedback from the
members.
Consider polling members within the community on a
regular basis. Take what you learn from the community and
put it into practice in the organization.
Give credit to the community for their input. Once
members discover that their participation in the community
can actually have an impact on the organization itself,
interest in the community will be that much stronger.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 8 - Use Wikis for Announcements
• Use wiki and/or forum functionality to
publish ongoing lists of group events,
and have members participate by
adding other events that they
consider relevant to other members.
Encourage users to use wikis by
seeking their input directly into
organizational planning (e.g., by
putting drafts of tributes, awards,
mission statements, etc. in wiki and
then seeking input from members).
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 9 - Announce News First in Community
• Announce new initiatives and other
important organizational news in the
community first. This will help
establish the community as a living,
informative part of your online
presence.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Tactic 10 - Keep the Community Fresh
• Keep the community fresh.
Pay attention to what elements of the community
are being used heavily, and which are not.
If you’ve created a forum that no one’s using,
consider taking it down, as NTEN did.
If you find a lot of discussion on a particular topic,
consider creating a forum and/or group especially
for that topic.
Consider archiving outdated library items.
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
Contact Information - GoLightly, Inc.
For More Information, Contact:
Christopher Dworin
Vice President of Business Development
GoLightly, Inc.
Gardner Building
9 Locust Avenue, Suite A
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 847-7555
chris.dworin@golightly.com
Empowering Online Community Since 2001
В© 2007 GoLightly, Inc.
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