Too often, users log into sites, are bombarded with a million options of where to start, what to do and how to participate. Though your goal may be to encourage participation of any type, the actual result may be much different: an online “community” of users who don’t know where to start. They become “watchers” instead of “participants,” and are less likely to stick around for all your community has to offer.
Spell it Out
Usually, new members to a community aren’t sure where to start. They log in, see discussions that have been going on for awhile and members that are actively communicating with each other on a personal level. It’s the high school effect. Instead of feeling welcome, they look at the information, but don’t participate.
You can change this. Create a “New Members Read This” post (sure you can call it whatever you’d like…but make it obvious). In this post, explain how your community works, perhaps even a little background on the site. Also, encourage them to introduce themselves and reach out to other members through friend requests and maybe even a wall post. By taking the initiative that you’ve spelled out, your new members will quickly acclimate into your community’s culture.
Welcome New Members
Setting up a “Read This” document and welcoming members personally are two different steps. As a start, all new members should receive a welcome message from you. This is absolutely crucial as they are paying for your content and access to what you have to say. This can be automated through the system or you can personalize each letter…it’s up to you.
Depending on the set up of your community, it may also be appropriate to welcome each new member through a tagged message board post. This allows others to notice the new activity and to add a quick “welcome” message. This small (seemingly obvious) step is important…your goal is to encourage new members to become active participants quickly. It will lead to your pay-for-access site’s overall growth and success.
Choose Your Structure Wisely
Social HubSite makes it easy for you to keep your group structured and organized, but it’s up to you to utilize the right tools. Steps like adding your logo, slogan, etc. are obvious, but there are other ways to ensure your users find the information they’re looking for when they need it.
Take the time to organize and tag all posts. Set up categories that users can access at any time and be sure all of your posts fall into one (it’s easy to create new categories as well). Do the same for video posts. Make sure webinar and event information are clearly organized as well. Remember, the more organized your site is, the more likely your users are to search for and use the information you have to offer. Structure matters!
Setting up a pay-for-access membership community is an important step in your business’s future. Taking the aforementioned points into consideration will turn your site into a thriving, successful online community and revenue source for you.