Seeding content and activity in a new community is a little like setting out hors d’oeuvres before a party. People at parties connect over food the same way community members connect through content and discussion. You know you have to have it, you want to offer something that suits the tastes of each guest, and of course you worry about having enough to go around.
Recently one of my clients asked me to share some of my best practices for seeding content in a new community. She was searching for some very tactical information and I found myself getting creative when thinking up possible examples for her. Because I know we all love hands-on ideas, here are my best practices for getting the party started:
This is the content you and your internal team generate. This comes in the form of library entries, resource threads, thought leadership questions and user programs. Also think about populating the site with “low hanging fruit” questions – you know, questions like “What is your favorite song to listen to while working?” … the ones that no one could possibly answer incorrectly. This allows members to participate in a low-risk way and will help them become comfortable engaging in more dense conversations later on.
Tactical Curation Approaches:
Construct your library with resources you have collected in your work. Borrow from another organization’s library that you admire (and give proper credit, of course).Create a discussion thread titled “Links to (XYZ Topic) Resources”. In the body of your discussion post you can share two or three website links or attachments to resources around that topic, and encourage your members to add their own links in the comments below. As you find these types of resources in the future you can build the thread and your members will likely join in.
Share a resource, quote, research finding, etc. and state your opinion around it. Then invite other members to weigh in and share their opinions as well.
Pose some easy questions. Ask people tell you what their favorite hobby is. Find out the best place your members ever vacationed.
Create a casual competition around who has the most interesting weekend plans. (Or whatever casual, personal topic you feel is appropriate). This will help overcome community stage fright.
Create an activity. If it’s culturally appropriate, one idea might be to host a scavenger hunt where the challenges help members find their way around the community, introduces them to spaces/functions, and helps you seed content. Scavenger hunt activities might be: Find and post a library doc. about XYZ topic, reply to three fellow members, identify the largest “network” you are part of on your profile page, find another member with the same stakeholder category as you. Adding a simple gaming element can be a fun way to engage. By making the game play line up with the content you want to see members post, you will support content seeding and member adoption.
Consider establishing a weekly activity or post. Maybe this is “Tip Tuesday” where you share one tip about the site each week on that day, or perhaps you could start a “Flashback Friday” where you highlight one especially thoughtful insight or post that was shared by a member that week.
Mobilize your super users and key stakeholders to be the “life of your party”. These are your inner circle members. Find the people who will get others excited about the space and support them in their participation. Pro tip on how to find these people: they are the ones who start grooving even when no one else is on the dance floor. Offer them opportunities to collaborate with you and take a larger role in the community if they want it. For example, in my community – we hold two-week featured topic cycles. So for engaged super users I might offer them the opportunity to help decide an upcoming topic cycle. This increases their investment and engagement.
Tactical Super User Approaches:
Have super users create and participate in an “Introduce yourself” thread. Then ask super users to keep an eye on it and welcome new members who participate in the intro thread.
Ask super users to have a “potluck” conversation about a specific topic – each person brings one resource, book, speaker, video, quote or thought leader to the table and shares it on the thread. No repeats!
Don’t be afraid to bribe your super users a little bit. Do you have office “swag” lying around the office from the last industry event you attended? Create a competition for the most active super user and the winner gets a monogrammed notebook or mug. Better yet – offer intrinsically motivated prizes. Maybe your super users would value face time with an executive in your program? The prize could be a coffee or lunch meeting with a networking connection they could not have made otherwise.
Whenever you are are talking about the community or thinking about what to put in it always think “How can I offer something here, that cannot be found else where?” This is the motivation that drives people inside the community. Instead of sending an email or searching on Google, you want them to come here. Add content and create programs that give them a reason to do that.
Tactical Value Approaches:
Think about the documents, tools and information your users need to accomplish their work. What do you provide to them that they require? Make those sort of items exclusive to the community. The only way they can access it is to enter your community space.
Create as many pathways into the community as possible and limit the pathways that lead out of the community. Example: When sharing a resource, embed it into the community itself or upload it into the library, rather than adding a link to a different website that will take a user out of the community.
Make an offer along with an “ask”. Always explain to members how the community is of value to them, how it will help them, how it will help their team and the organization as a whole. Citing use cases and fixing pain points always goes over well.
What do you all think? Is there anything you would add to this list? Or perhaps something you would change?