The following list is a starting point that hopefully others in Clearstep will contribute to.
I was having a conversation with a few colleagues a little bit ago on ideas for engaging people in a community (whether they're generally just lurkers, on up to critics and creators). Anyway, here's a laundry list loosely sorted around user experience and marketing tactics for engagement. Of course, the #1 area that impacts engagement initially is just making sure that you focus your goals and objectives planning on what members' will get out of the community. If you fail to explicitly define that piece it's likely none of the following will help drive a thriving community.
User experience-related items that can drive engagement
Be sure to make whatever activities that will help achieve the community's goals VERY LARGE AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND FOR MEMBERS
- Is sharing their story important? Then make a button around sharing big and bold, e.g.
- Is getting questions answered quickly most important? then do something similar...
- Initially, of course, you just want to convert readers/lurkers to members so a big Join button is good, e.g.
Last, from a user experience perspective remember that most members won't be logging in that often so you need to bring the community to them - whether it's their inbox or mobile. Ways to do this include:
- Use a platform that enables members to receive email alerts on people, sub-communities, or specific docs and discussions that they're interested in.
- Use a platform that enables members to respond to and start discussions, docs, blog posts, etc. via email
Polls can be good to get a pulse on how people feel about various topics and can help generate ideas for community managers for seeding conversations
Marketing efforts that can drive engagement
- Email out a monthly community-specific newsletter, where you (these are just ideas):
- Put the community everywhere on your web properties. Again, this is kind of a platform thing in terms of how easy it easy. With Jive, it's easy, can't speak to others (we call this feature 'Community Everywhere'). Anyway, the concept is to put a discussion in the community related to say a key product right on that product page of your website. Let people see the conversations outside of the community basically.
- I've talked with 3 clients in the past week who are focusing on running contests around "share your story." That's cool.
- Reach out to the social media ecosystem. This is sometimes referred to as social media optimization (SMO) but basically it's just enabling the community conversations to be viewed in other places like Facebook, Digg, delicious, etc., which can drive both new members and more activity and engagement by existing members. A couple examples below - first just a generic example of the minimal size/scope of this add on then followed by a Nike example
I've seen other Jive clients besides Nike actually advertising on Facebook to drive people to their community. Remember, go where your target audience is, not just to get new members but to engage current ones as well.