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.
When a member requests to join your online group, they receive some kind of welcome email. These are pretty standard across the board – they thank the member for registering. In many online groups, that’s all the emails say. What a waste!but why go to all the effort of attracting new members if they don’t contribute to the community?
Some groups customise these messages to some extent. Some urge members to introduce themselves and some that remind the new member of the group guidelines. You can do much better.
You want to make contributing to your group irresistible. Don’t expect to write the acceptance message and leave it at that for years to come. See the acceptance message as something that is constantly evolving – just like your group. Draw attention to fantastic content, great members and irresistible discussions. Keep it up to date and relevant.
Here’s an example
|Hi (Name)Thank you for joining our group – it’s great to have you as a member. You can get started right away by clicking the link below and introducing yourself. Say hi, tell us about yourself or why you decided to join. What you choose to say is up to you!(link)
We have got some great conversations going on right now that I think you’ll love. Feel free to take a look and get involved – it would be great to hear your thoughts:
Forum Discussion 1 (link)
Forum Discussion 2 (link)
My name is (Your full name). I’m the group facilitator and it’s my job to help build and develop this community by encouraging members to get involved and share their ideas and opinions. If I can be of any help, or if you have any feedback or suggestions, drop me an email at any time: (Your email address) or you can connect with me via my profile(link) where you can instant message me if you have any questions
Other members are always about to offer a helping hand, too. (Names of members) love to offer new members guidance. Feel free to drop them a line any time you like.
Thanks again for joining us. I look forward to seeing you get involved in the community!
(Your full name)
Yes it takes effort, but if you can lure in a new member and get more activity and engagement from them, its effort that will pay off.
Don’t waste this opportunity. Acceptance messages can really help get more members active and involved in your community. Put the extra effort in and you’ll see what a difference they can make.
Thanks to Martin Reed at http://www.communityspark.com
When I say inactive, I’m classing it as no new content in the last 6 months.
But you should not despair the community may have served its purpose and it may be ready to close. And if that is the case please email email@example.com they can delete it from the system for you.
But if it’s just inactive “Can you bring a dead community back to life?”
The short answer is, yes, because you can always just start from scratch
But before you start you might want to have a look at why it be became inactive in the first place
- Did people just lose interest?
- Did the facilitators lose interest?
- Was the community built around a product or service that is no longer relevant?
If this is still the case. Then maybe it’s worth thanking everyone who has participated in the community and give it a good send off.
But if the answer is No, or sort of. Then maybe there is still hope.
Bringing a dead community back to life isn’t so different from building a community from scratch.
While working on the communities of practice Platform I developed a guide on how to build communities of practice in local government.http://www.slideshare.net/mik0ton/how-to-build-cops-in-local-government
Which I’m in the process of updating for the Knowledge Hub.
But the basic principles are the same and we say there are 5 key ingredients for most Communities (although these do not constitute a full recipe).
- Purpose: a Community needs a clear purpose which is relevant and meaningful to its members. It should specify exactly what the community is for and what will be gained from being part of it.
- Facilitation: every Community should begin with a team of three facilitators as a minimum; they will work together to ensure that the purpose of the community and the needs of the members are being met through a variety of online and offline activities and discussions. They welcome new members and keep the community vibrant and focused.
- Activities: within each Community there are a variety of activities, tools and techniques employed to aid and enhance conversations and the transfer of knowledge.
- Active membership: each community will have active members with a lively interest in sharing knowledge with each other.
- Promotion: ensure high levels of management buy in and promote the Communities ability to help solve daily work challenges
It will definitely be difficult to get the original members to just start being active again. They have probably moved on with all the changes in Local Government over the last year and the community is no longer a part of their life.
But, they may still be interested in subject area that brought them all together in the first place so don’t give up on them yet.
What you have at that point is a lot of potential community members, but no actual community.
What you really want to do is build a strong core that will sustain the community, and grow it out from that core.
So focus on rebuilding relationships with individual people, the same way you would if you were starting a community from scratch.
Find the people who were once active and send them a message, maybe hop on the phone. Start introducing people to each other and build relationships behind the scenes.
As far as what to do about the community that once thrived, that’s hard to say. You might want to start from scratch and invite people to the new community. Or you might be able to leverage the existing content to respark conversations.
So in order to build a self sustaining community, you’ll need to build a strong core around an interest that will live on for a long time.
So go ahead and bring your community back from the dead. Or better yet, build one that will never die.
A big thank you to David Spinks at the CommunityManager.com, for the impeccable timing of his blog which this is based on.
For the last 3 years we have surveyed members across the communities of practice to find out what they really think.
I’ve picked 3 themes for the questions to report back on
- Using CoPs generally
- Effect on individual performance
- Effect on organisation performance.
The great thing with the survey is that we have kept the same questions so we can benchmark year on year. And you can read the full results here (sign in required)
For all those stato’s out there the survey was sent to a random sample of 5,000 COP members who had been active on the CoP in the previous six months. With a 24% response rate.
The result seems to follow a statement from the Community Roundtable State of Community Management 2011 report that “Communities take time. Understand your context and audience; many communities take 2-3 years to really get results at scale.”
Well, we have lots of communities and I think the platform is following the pattern.
I wonder what your thoughts are, has the CoP Platform made a difference to you?
|From Communities and Knowledge|
|From Communities and Knowledge|
|From Communities and Knowledge|
I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. This little presentation looks at
- Communities of Practice What’s it all about
- Organisation Benefits
- Ingredients for Success
Hope you like it.