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You’ve decided that a social digital community is right for your association. You understand the benefits it will bring to both your association and its members. Most importantly, you’re excited to get things started. Great. You’re on the right track.

But, here’s the thing. Your association members might not be quite as excited as you. They’re on existing social networks and they have busy schedules. They may even be apprehensive about what exactly this new community means.

That’s okay. In fact, it’s completely normal. Don’t worry. There are steps you can take today to make your association’s digital community a success from day one. Start with the 5 steps below to ensure long-term success for all community members.

  1. Start a Countdown

Excitement is contagious. In fact, a recent study performed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, Medical School and discussed by Courtney Seiter on Buffer shines light on the fact that emotions shared online tend to resonate between users. This includes both positive and negative emotions.

It makes sense. Humans are made to interact, and those interactions can be swayed by the undercurrent of emotion. As the administrator of your online community, you can harness this fact and use it to your advantage.

A community doesn’t just happen. It takes time. Some of that time requires set up and behind the scenes work. While this is taking place, start a countdown. Set a launch date and share exciting tidbits of information about your new community while you’re waiting for the launch to happen. Consider daily emails (or a few times a week if your launch date is farther in the future), along with what your community will be capable of. The more excited you are, the more likely others are to want to jump in when your community goes live.

  1. Get a Few Key Members on Board

Who are your association’s influencers?

You may try to treat all members the same, but, there are some that stand out. Some that are leaders inside your association, that have the ability to affect change in other members. These are your influencers: the individuals that show up at every event, that sit on your board, that push for certain initiatives and generally get their way.

They get their way because others listen to them. They’re trusted members of your association, and as such, they can be useful in getting your community off the ground. Gather your influencers. Get together and discuss your new community and why it’s so important for your association. Generate excitement.

Then, send them out. Ask them to tell others about your new community and to commit to being a part of its launch. By sharing factual evidence about the benefits of the community, and why it matters, they’re likely to feel valued and to want to help make it a success.

  1. Adjust Your Sharing Tactics

If members can find the same information they’ve always looked for on your website, i.e. outside of your digital community, there’s not as big of a need to actual investigate what your community has to offer.

Once again, this is in your hands. Start sharing content that your members need inside of your community. By shifting your sharing tactics, you’re giving members a reason to return on a regular basis. It will be different at first, but, over time, it will become normal.

Remember, if there’s exclusive content to be shared, your community is probably the best place to make it happen.

  1. Offer Rewards

Rewards are motivators: fact.

We like incentives, this is true of most people, across the board. If there’s something to be gained, or the potential for a “win,” we’re more likely to be willing to shift our behaviors.

This isn’t to say that sharing a $5 gift card for every comment is the way to go. Instead, start a contest. Offer a great prize and make each discussion point, share or log-in a way to earn an entry into that contest.

If your association members have something to gain by participating in your community in the beginning, it’s more likely to happen. Over time, this will become part of a routine, a habit, but, in the beginning, it can be an effective way to jumpstart your digital community’s activity level.

  1. Be Persistent, Be Known

If you create a digital community, make a single announcement, then wait for it to take off on its own, it never will. Remember, you’re busy, so are your association members.

In the beginning, community growth can be a challenge. You’re not alone, keep at it. Keep reminding members of the benefits of your social community. Remind them about the content they can only find there. Share what’s happening in the community, member testimonials and other benefits that those who aren’t participating could be missing out on.

Over time, a community has a domino effect. Once a few key members are involved, that activity will spread outward. It won’t be extra work to keep it going, it will start to sustain itself. However, this all starts with you and your actions in the very beginning.

Ready to take your association to the next level? Want to start an online digital community that benefits your association and your members? Excited to get started? Request your free trial today!

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