5 Insider Tips For Keeping Your Community Active

by David Spinks on Feb 11, 2013

Originally published at TheCommunityManager.com

building communityContributors are the people who actually create content in your community.

They may only account for 1-10% of your community, but they’re the most important members since without them, there is no conversation.

And so it’s really important for you to know why they come back to your community in the first place.

This way you can focus on those triggers, keep your contributors coming back and build a thriving community.

Here are 5 things that trigger people to contribute in a community:

1. To see who responded to their posts or comments

People don’t just write things online for the sake of it. They write for other people to read it. When they get a response, that serves as reassurance that people are listening and care about what they have to say.

Recommendation:

Focus on encouraging responses to new posts on the community. A great place to start is to respond yourself. Then be proactive in asking others to join in the conversation.

2. The possibility of starting a really long thread

It’s a community contributor’s dream to start a long thread that lasts a long time and gets a lot of responses.

Recommendation: 

If a conversation gets a really good start but starts to get buried by other content, bump it back up to the top with a response so you can draw in more people.

3. To build a reputation by answering questions

They’ll come back to see if there’s any new content they can respond to. They like to be perceived as knowledgable and are always looking for opportunities to chime in.

Recommendation: 

When you want to increase activity in your community, think about topics that your contributors have been vocal about in the past and ask a question related to that topic. Give people opportunities to share their expertise.

4. To ask for help with something

A lot of the best conversations in a community happen when a contributor asks for advice and the community comes out to help them.

Recommendation: Make sure you’re building an environment where your community members feel comfortable asking questions and getting help. You can do this by creating some level of privacy within the group, by encouraging members to ask question and by setting the example and asking questions that make you look vulnerable.

5. To crowdsource ideas

Contributors love to ask the community for their ideas. Maybe for a blog post, or every day things like what to cook that night.

Recommendation: 

When someone asks for ideas, help them get a response by recommending specific people who would have good ideas.

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What are some other reasons that contributors come back to communities? Share any reasons that you’ve seen in your own experience.

Post Author

David Spinks is the CEO of LetsFeast.com and TheCommunityManager.com....

  • http://twitter.com/Rich20Something Daniel DiPiazza

    Definitely good tips. One thing I hate is when I go to a blog and see an active thread jumping off and the originator (be it the site owner or the guest contributor) doesn’t respond or engage in the conversation. It’s like…what was the point of all that if you’re not going to jump in??!!

  • http://socialfreshacademy.com/ Jason Keath

    Haha. I’ve had that same pet peeve @twitter-907040168:disqus. Just jumping back in to a convo can be enough to double engagement, and keep readers/community members coming back for more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottwayres Scott Ayres

    I agree with Daniel. Nothing worse than a blog (or Facebook page) that never replies to comments.

  • http://socialfreshacademy.com/ Jason Keath

    I feel the need to add a reply here. =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidSpinks David Spinks

    Though this post wasn’t really focused on blog posts, I agree (=

    In a community, for someone to start a thread and then not respond is just a wasted opportunity for them to build a real discussion.

  • Jennifer Agrazada-Schreiner

    Thank you for those tips. The problem I usually experience is they just “use” us. They ask a question, we answer. And then they don’t need us anymore and the users disappear. Oh well.

  • http://twitter.com/AmandahBlackwel Amandah T. Blackwell

    Hi David,

    You hit the nail on the head with “To see who responded to their posts or comments.”

    I understand people are busy, but if you’re making good money from your blog/business, you can afford to hire a social media assistant and or manager to answer the community. Or you could answer them yourself.

    I see Facebook page after page where no one responds to the community. This goes for blogs too. What’s the point of being on social media if you won’t respond to your community? What’s the point of having a blog if you won’t respond to your community?

    I wish Facebook would change how it displays the fan pages you like because I want a more efficient way to start ‘unliking’ some of the pages I liked because the owner or social media assistant (if any) doesn’t respond. Of course, the argument that some business/blog owners could make is that the Facebook page or blog is not for them, it’s for the community. Therefore, the community is encouraged to engage with one another.

    Other reasons why contributors come back to the community are:

    1. Debate.

    2. Loneliness.

    Thanks for this great post on how to keep your community active.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottwayres Scott Ayres

    I see what you did there… http://www.postplanner.com/blog/

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidSpinks David Spinks

    Thanks a lot for the comment Amandah. Agreed that the same concepts apply to blog posts or facebook pages. Although neither of those tend to be great platforms for people in the audience to talk to each other and become a community. Although there are always exceptions.

    Thomas Knoll said something really smart today that’s worth thinking about. As a community builder, your job isn’t just to respond to people, it’s to encourage users to respond to each other. That’s where community really starts forming because it feels more natural and authentic. Use your backchannels (email, and private messages) to encourage your most active users to engage other users.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidSpinks David Spinks

    Why should they come back? You have a responsibility to them, not the other way around. They have to want to come back because they’re getting value out of participating.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidSpinks David Spinks

    Me too.

  • http://twitter.com/SerranoMolinero Serrano Molinero

    Hi David, great tips! Also, for new connections. Whether it be the author of a blog, a reader, a person who follows someone you follow… anyone could find interesting or challenging what you have to say say. After responding to your comment or your post, they’ll probably want to know a bit more about you, your blog, your pages, what it is you do, etc.

    For example, me. I really liked your post. I’m going to follow you on Twitter now.

  • Leah Van Rooy

    David, I liked your tip about brands joining in the conversation taking place (for example posting within the comment thread of a Facebook post).

    In the past I had found that by jumping in when a conversation was going on it tended to halt future conversation because people felt the conversation was over. Looking back I can see that happened because the brand comments posted were generic (ex. great ideas, thanks for sharing — a post like that indicated to others that you wrapped up the sharing portion). Your tip about proactively asking others to join in the conversation as part of the comment is key!

  • Renee Dooley

    Someone on Facebook told me about this way of being able to unlike a bunch of things quickly and easily. It will display your whole list, and you can just click “remove page” Yay! http://www.theredheadriter.com/2011/09/how-to-unlike-multiple-pages-on/

  • Graciousstore

    People go back to communities where they they are at home. Where they can be part of the conversation either simply listening or actively making positive contributions

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidSpinks David Spinks

    Yep, people can smell “bullshit engagement”. If you’re not human in your responses, it won’t drive any more conversation. Asking questions to specific people is a good way to keep it going.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidSpinks David Spinks

    Woo! (=

  • http://socialfresh.com/blog Jason Keath

    Tell me more about this “asking questions” tactic. How often should a business ask questions of specific people?

    =)