In order to have a thriving, sustainable, long-lasting community, it’s your duty as a community administrator to find the right members.

Far too often, social media is a numbers game. Percentages, numbers of members, participation points, likes, shares and retweets seem to be what the focus is on during community discussions. While these matter, they don’t come out of nowhere…they start with the members.

But, it’s not just the number of members that should make a difference. As a community administrator, the quality of the members should be your top priority. Below are a few ways to get started in the right direction.

Screen Your Members (Especially at First)

While quick import tools are great (and sometimes very effective), it’s critical that you think carefully about the members you bring into your community.

Think about the overall goals of your community, what you value, what discussions you hope to conduct, the tools you provide…the whole picture. Now, think about what types of members will get you to that point. Who can provide valuable input to help in your community’s mission? Invite or import those members. Being selective from the start will lead to growth in the long-run.

Provide Education

You have values and a mission (as I discussed above)…so does your community. Make sure all community members are familiar with them.

Create an education document that all members must acknowledge during the formal joining process. By laying out your terms, community “rules” and your overall purpose, members will know up front whether or not your community is one they’d like to invest their time in. This means they’re more likely to not only participate, but to stick around for the long run. Education up front leads to long term success.

Plan on Slow Growth

Again, numbers matter. You want a large community that has the potential to make an impact. But, large numbers don’t come right away.

In fact, slow and steady growth can be an indication of a successful, viable community. Plan for that. Instead of a huge burst at the beginning that fizzles, taking the right measures means your community has a real shot at success.

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