It is tempting to focus soley on moderation when discussing online community management, but without driving discussion in the first place, a community manager will have nothing to moderate.
Here are five things every community manager should do to encourage discussion in an online community.
1. Use mixed media
Using different types of media always produces good engagement results. Images and picture galleries often generate the best engagement online and this is certainly the case for the Facebook pages we manage here at FreshNetworks.
2. Keep the community informed about latest updates
One simple tool to add to an online community is a “latest activity” box on the homepage. Members of one of the closed communities I manage regularly comment on how useful this tool is for quickly navigating the site and for keeping up to date with recent activity.
3. Email newsletters
By far the largest driver of traffic to the communities I manage are the weekly email newsletter updates I send. They highlight conversations that are important to the brand and in the early lifecycle of a community the email updates are particularly important in developing a relationship with community members.
4. One to one contact
Contacting users on an individual basis is a fantastic way of building good foundations. Thank them for performing actions, suggest content they may like or point them towards new activities in order to build long-term engagement.
5. Ask questions that matter to the community
Asking simple questions is recognised as a good way of generating discussion. However, this only works if the questions you ask are relevant to your audience. Take the time to understand what your audience react to and then plan around this.
Using these tactics are just a few of the many ways that you can encourage discussion in an online community. What works best for you?