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We believe in lasting online engagement within a community, and recognise the principles that need to be considered for capturing past and present information with a view to building identity as well as informing and perhaps setting future direction.
When deciding to invest in an online community engagement strategy, it is important to consider a number of factors to make sure the strategy will succeed. We have put together the following principles which are the building blocks for creating lasting online engagement with a community.
There may be several distinct purposes for any engagement and they should all be clearly articulated to the user community. The purpose can then be used to channel interactions and remove distractions.
Examples of purpose include:
Online engagement is driven by content, the users look at content, interact with the content and interact with other users over the content. The content should include all forms of digital assets – documents, knowledge, images, videos, locations, audio, opinions, comments and so on.
Importantly the content must be meaningful, authentic and shared i.e. not from one source.
The community are the users – without users you have site visitors who aren’t engaged. New users need to be welcomed and encouraged to participate, and power users need to be identified, nurtured and exploited.
A key ingredient of effective on-line engagement is the user experience; poor experience drives users away while a great experience builds the community.
a) Make it “sticky”
A “sticky” site is one that users don’t want to leave or want to come back to frequently. This may be because the content is great, the level of interaction or simply the pleasure received from engaging.
b) Create emotion – fun, pleasure, etc
It is important to generate emotion through the experience. This could be pleasure, joy, outrage, nostalgia or any emotion that is appropriate to the site purpose, but without emotion the user has little reason to return.
c) Make it easy to participate
The experience must be simple and intuitive, any barriers to use should be removed or minimised.
d) Friendly environment
Content and interactions should be moderated to ensure that the environment is friendly and welcoming.
e) Create interest groups
Create the opportunity for users to join special interest groups in the community to focus their attention and heighten their engagement.
f) Allow subject tracking and notifications
In a similar vein to interest groups, enable the user to be notified of items of interest to them.
g) Participation creates knowledge and ownership
The act of engagement increases the knowledge of all members and importantly creates a sense of joint ownership and value in the community.
h) Reward users
Interaction must be a rewarding process, users should be thanked for contributions and should receive feedback from their engagements. This could be through a ranking system, notification of views of posts or other mechanisms.
i) Progression of responsibility
As users become more experienced in the community their contribution should be recognised with additional responsibilities such as moderators, editors, reviewers and so on.
j) Take time to go off line and engage in the real world
Finally it is important to recognise that the online world is a reflection of the real world, where possible create some real world engagement to deepen the sense of community. This could be through meetings, conferences, workshops and so on.
Contact us if you would like to discuss creating an effective online community engagement strategy.
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