When it comes to online communities, current content is king. If your users see that your site is refreshed often and the page is active, they'll be more inclined to be active in return. It’s important to engage users that frequent your community, and the first step to doing that is by giving them a place worth visiting. When the content of the page is stale and unchanged each time they visit, they won't return. Our goal as leaders is to make sure our community members are tuned into the pertinent information they need to know.
This doesn’t have to be a large task on your part either. Check in on your community as frequent as you are able, but more importantly, be consistent. Log in and answer questions on the forums or post announcements on Wednesdays, update the CB landing page on the first week of the month, post a short blog in your community on every 15th of the month. It doesn’t have to be a daily exercise to show your presence as a community leader. Instead, schedule 10 to 15 minutes every week when you have regular time to spare, and log in to give something to your followers.
Tips on how to stay fresh
Each community is unique, and no one knows your members better than you. Play to your strengths and provide them with what they would want to see most.
The in-person groups
If you’re a leader of a CB and your community members are all about the in-person meetings, then keep your landing page current with some simple editing.
Put the date and place of your next meeting on the landing page with a link to registration by editing the html content. To do this, click on the three-dot ellipses button on the left-hand tool bar, click on “Community Administration,” click on “Edit HTML Content” and then the "Edit" button next to the “Default Page.” Then type inside the text editor. When you're done, press "OK" to save. (For these instructions with images, click here.)
Post a picture of the hotel at which the meeting is taking place or upcoming speakers who will present, by using the “Insert Image” button in the same area. Clicking this button will open the "Insert Image" box.Press the browse icon next to the source field and then click “Add Image,” then “Browse” to search for your saved picture that you would like to upload. Once uploaded, select the picture and press "OK." You can adjust the placement and the size of the image inside the editing window. (For these instructions with images, click here.)
Once the live meeting is over, be sure to go back in and update the information. Switch out the registration information for a "Thank You" message and post-meeting materials. Change the picture to one you took at the live meeting and tease information about the next meeting to look forward to. Let this area of the page be yours that you own- your way to reach out to members.
The talkative groups
Your community is always active; members are posting discussions every week and getting replies. Engage this group by checking in once a week and involving yourself in the discussions. Ask questions and communicate with the members who reply. Make sure that each discussion posted is replied to or answered, and if not, be the one to answer them. Give them more to talk about by posting links to news or upcoming events you’ve seen recently.
The quiet observers
Have quite a few subscribers to your CB, LNG or COI, but no one wants to speak up? Maybe you’re trying to engage them by posting to the discussion forums but nobody replies to you? This doesn’t mean that they didn't see what you posted, though. Look and see how many views your content has gotten- your members are engaging in the community by lurking and reading- cater to them in this way.
Post announcements of upcoming actions they should be aware of: link news articles and journal publications of any breaking news that might pertain to them and talk about your thoughts on the information, write a monthly blog in your own voice they can read and relate to. If you are the source of their content, and are active, members will keep coming back and eventually be responsive once they understand the environment of the community that you have created.
Take small steps toward better owning the online community that you lead. Check in often and give it a voice members will want to listen to.