Part three in my ‘Getting an online community off the ground’ series. Today I’ll chat about bringing people in the door. (Officially this is still linked to the last topic, People but in the interests of keeping things short I split them)
We have figured out why we want to build a community, we have figured out who the awesome people in the community will be, next on the agenda is to figure out how we get them to join and then stay in the community.
My best bet is pick up the phone and call the people I really want to have involved. Richard Millgton recently blogged on this topic with some suggestions along the same lines, his key message was if you are send out mass invites you are sending out spam.
I’d have to agree with him there, I tried using a mail out last year to kick off a community and it is fair to say it didn’t go brilliantly.
My experiment was reasonably targeted, I sent an email to all delegates registered for selected sessions at one of our conferences. Each email went out to between 100 and 300 people, the email talked up the opportunities to discuss the topics covered by the session and ask questions of the presenter before or after the event.
Even though quite a few people responded to the email and logged in, they were greeted by an empty room, as a result it never got off the ground. Looking back I see that I would have been better to use this strategy once the community had been up and running for a while.
When the community is in it’s start up phase, we need to find the people who we really want to have involved, these are people who fall into the second group described on Tuesday, they must be motivated and importantly they must have time to put into the community. Find these people, give them a call and have a chat; explain the goals of the community and let them know that we value their insight. Repeat this process with the top 20 – 30 people and we’ll be on our way to getting our community off the ground.