How to Get an Active Community

As I explored in my post on Encouraging a Community with the carrot and stick method, I was having difficulty getting members to be active users.

My analysis found that the community I’d fostered wanted to hear stories, but didn’t want to give them. My next step was to encourage people to talk. I created an area where aspiring journalists could just talk, announcing their presence on the site. The idea is that if they’re friends, they’ll be more inclined to help each other. That might not work, but it’s had a better success rate that my previous efforts! The next step is to approach communities that want to tell their stories and enable them to meet the community of Journalists who’ve now started interacting on the site.

Here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

Don’t assume users will grow organically –make a community

The individuals are out there, but it takes effort to bring them together. Sometimes it just takes a few people conversing to give others’ the confidence to join the conversation.

Use personal relationships to ask people to become members

I asked people I was already in conversation with to help me out by starting the conversation. The people I asked were already aspiring Journalists, so I targeted people I thought would have a genuine interest in posting on the site, but knowing me already and being asked by me personally meant they were more willing to do something for me.

Build personal relationships with members

Managing this community doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Accept that you know no more than each member of your community. Be human. Thank them for their advice and opinions. A good community manager won’t need to force this, because we’re passionate about the people in our community.

Foster a core group of ambassadors

When Nick Lockey told me this is how Flickr started, the penny dropped! The more I’ve put it into practice, the more I’ve realized how crucial it is. I wish I’d done it sooner! The first members will set the tone for everyone else. Start by asking people you already know in that community to do something specific. For me, this was asking them to post something about themselves and what area they were looking for stories in. You could ask them to

  • do a poll
  • give advice or
  • give their opinion.

It must specific though! People are more inclined to do something they can do in a few minutes.

So the lesson I learnt:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A conversation can grow organically, but a good community manager starts the conversation – even if it’s manufactured.

Have you learnt from a community you’re managing? Have you got any ideas on how I can find a community of people who have stories to tell, and how to join them with my community of Journalists? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments box below.

About fionamarleypaterson
I'm a Geordie Broadcast Journalist currently working in Kendal, Cumbria for ITV Border. I have an MA in Broadcast Journalism from top UK BJTC-accredited University, City University, London. All views mine not my employer's. Thanks for stopping by.

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