Tested Rules & Learned Truths About Online Community Engagement

KiKi L’Italien, Delcor Technologies and I had a great conversation at ASAE Social Media Workshop. KiKi shared her awesome story about the Optical Society of America student chapters and I shared the ISES DC blog and story. Here’s a quick recap of our key points and you can check out our shared bookmark smw09 for more resources.

Quick Tested Rules of Engagement:

90% lurk (read or observe only; don’t contribute; think
of this as your audience)
9% edit (add a comment, modify entry, rate an article)
1% participate (these are your creators; they are vocal & engaged)
  • Be committed! Once launched a community needs care and feeding through regular monitoring and listening and sustained activity. (Here’s a great post that gives 10 ways to do just that.)
  • Respond quickly! Be ready to respond to posts, questions, requests.
  • Engage and reward! Pay attention to those who show-up. Think of it as a party – greet all your guests personally and show appreciation, especially by connecting them to others. (Here’s post from FeverBee offering 10 excellent rewards.)

A Few Learned Truths about Engagement:

  • “90-9-1” Rule exists, but it isn’t a community’s death sentence. Counter by making editing and participating as easy as possible, even a side-effect. Think Amazon’s 5-star rating system. Make it easy to share: set up a shared Delicious tag (like ours smw09) or include a page like this at ISESDC. Consider employing a top contributors recognition program or other ways to recognize participation.
  • It’s about THEM, not you. You need to go where your members are already convening and listen. Then focus your community on what’s important to them.  
  • Technology does not create a community. And its related truth: communities don’t need technology. Communities grow based on shared interests and shared needs. Add technology to help the community meet those.

Check out my engagement series for a couple of additional case studies. Have one to add?