Do you have an on-line discussion forum but nobody comes?

One of my last group projects in college was to develop a PR strategy for a new major on digital communications. Naturally, one tactic discussed by each group was to develop an online presence. During my group’s discussion, I mentioned that creating Facebook accounts and online forums was one thing…getting people to come and participate was another. One classmate said that getting people to the sites wasn’t our problem. After all, we can only put it out there; we can’t force them to come. My response was…then what’s the point?

This brings me to a piece from SociousOnline Community Blog that I recently came across regarding online communities. The article offers some sage advice on how to get those tongues wagging, or better yet, those fingers typing. Below is a quick recap – for the full scoop, go to 4 Ways to Keep Discussion Forums Active [Online Community Tips].

  1. Seed Your Forums: have one or more board members post questions over a certain period of time, than have your most active members respond. This often brings others to the discussion who may be reading, but not responding.
  2. Weekly Roundups: have someone go over the forums each week and pick discussions that have value to your membership. Using a targeted email engine, send a personal “here’s something of interest you may have missed” email to those subscribed to that forum.
  3. Highlight New Resources: promote new material and resources within the larger community by starting a discussion on that topic in your forum.
  4. Promote Forums in Targeted Emails: Use your regular email communications to promote your online community by putting relevant forums and discussion into the footer of your emails.

Want to hear a success story? Read Peggy’s post from 8/4 on 4 Lessons for Building a New Chapter Model from AADE, a peek at her presentation with Nadine Merker of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and Scott Balthazor of Socious at the 2011 ASAE Conference (#ASAE11) on the success of AADE’s new chapter model and its new online member community.