From research conducted Nonnecke, B., Andrews, D., Preece, J 2006 suggested that only 13.2 % of those questioned had no intention to post from the outset.
Historically participation levels have followed a pattern.
On Wikipedia it is suggested that participation levels will follow the 1-9-90 rule. This is based on the idea of creator, contributor and lurker.
Socious suggest its 10-20-70 whereas Community Roundtable (with full time facilitation) says it can get towards 15-30-55.
So what happens to all the rest in the middle? What can we do as facilitators to increase participation and member engagement?
That’s what our latest online chat focused on. How do we engage members especially the new ones?
We asked four questions to help guide the discussion. Below is a summary of the discussion.
1.What are your key elements of your acceptance/welcome messages that help engage new members?
- Introduction to the group
- Introduction to the facilitators
- Reminder to set up notification
- Direction to key content
- Direction to key discussions
- Links to welcome pack
- Link to walkthrough video
It was also noted that a large percentage of groups with low activity and low participation rates, did none of the above.
2. When and how do you follow up with new members?
- Follow up after a certain period of time to ask if they need help (time dependant).
- Follow up after first participation.
- Encourage a second participation as quick as possible after the first one.
3. How do you help new members participate without feeling overwhelmed?
- Tip from an external community was to provide a hotline number for members to contact the facilitators.
- Include your email address in your group description.
- Simple message reminders asking for help or input to discussions to all members.
- Encourage people to people interaction. Don’t hide behind FAQs.
4. How can other community members help engage new members?
- Encourage a buddy system between members from the same or close by organisations.
- Build a core group of members (Champions to assist new members).
- Member referral. And the person who referred the new member will be the buddy and introduce them to the group.
A big thank you to Ken, Melissa, Yvette and Dimple for taking part in the discussion who provided some great insights.
This can also affect the discussions, content and activities that the facilitators have up there sleeve to stimulate activity.
Quite often, you run out of ideas or don’t know where to turn to get that spark of inspirations.
This is what our latest online chat focused on. We asked 3 questions over an hour and this is a summary of the discussion.
Q1. What are your favourite online/ offline resources that spark ideas and content for your group?
- Chatting with members and other facilitators to gather ideas.
- Looking at newsletter and publication on the subject area
- Twitter chats on the subject area
- Influential bloggers from the subject area
- Looking at content curated sites such as Storify and Scoop.it
- Other online communities (e.g. LinkedIn or professional bodies)
Q2. What types of activities have been really successful in your group in regards to gaining responses, comments or likes?
- Competitions (Fun and work related)
- Forum discussion asking for advice and help
- Forum discussion sharing experience of an activity, review or process
- Online chats (Question based or Ask me anything)
Q3. Do you have a plan of content, discussions or activities to roll out with your group?
- Yes, it’s regularly updated at team meetings so we have a plan of action that can be rolled out
- Yes, starts of as ideas on a post-it and gets refined over time to allow changes and new ideas to come in depending on the members needs at that time. Mostly based around discussions, activities and communication with the members
- Yes, initial based around a work programme.
- Yes, running regular activities like online chats, group messages and updating members.