The organizer and technical administrator work together to plan and then implement the features of the community. Once the community is in place, the seeder, host and moderator roles kick in. But how do you get people to your community?
According to Tenby, you need to make contact with potential members of your community. Personal e-mail invitations are one way to attract members, but Tenby says people are more likely to visit a community that’s promoted by people outside the organization. She suggests sending announcements about your community to contacts, listservs and members of the nonprofit community.
“You want to build word-of-mouth and buzz about your community. If you have an e-newsletter, highlight interesting threads and any special events in your community,” she writes.
Once people begin participating in your community, Tenby says it’s important to encourage frequent participators by sending them personal e-mails that offer rewards for their involvement.
“You need to create a community within your community, as this helps give your members a sense of ownership,” she writes.
Some reward examples she mentions are special profiles of them and their postings, graphics or titles that identify and differentiate them on the message board, and asking them to host online events or discussions.
Tenby says an organization creating a message board should expect that between one percent and 10 percent of registered visitors will be active users. One way to track this is to pay attention to the date users register and the date they last visited the board.
Susan Tenby can be reached via www.techsoup.org. To view this complete white paper and Tenby’s list of online community best practices, www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/webbuilding/page5106.cfm