26 September 2005

C is for... Community

At the end of the day, what brings people back to a forum isn't just the level of banter or the desire to learn more about the topic of discussion. The major factor that will keep a member coming back every day for a year or two is the feeling that he/she belongs to the community here. You therefore have to get members to feel as integrated into the community as possible.

* This means helping them establish an identity in the community. If it's obvious they're trying to be funny, tell them that they are! Likewise, if someone clearly considers themselves quite the Professor in these parts, don't hesitate to tell them when they make a good point. A member with an identity is no longer an anonymous outsider; it's a member that feels a part of your community, whether it's the know-it-all, the joker, the troll that likes to step on toes... The feeling of being a somebody in a community is one they'll find hard to let go of, and will help to keep them coming back.

* A monthly forum 'award ceremony' can be a quick and easy way of doing this for up to ten members at a time - 'Best Joke' 'Best Debater' etc...

* Developing your forum's community spirit also means encouraging your members to get to know each other better, to make friends, basically! You're unlikely to abandon a forum if it's a community you're an active part of and have people you consider to be friends in. Get them to post pictures of themselves, to describe where they live, to talk about their other hobbies, etc. You can't force people to make friends.... but you can certainly encourage it!

Community spirit is quite an abstract thing, you know it when you see it but it's not something you can measure or really define. Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to improve community spirit on your boards. In later articles, we'll be covering some examples of what you can do to make sure your members want to come back, time and again!


Anonymous Admin-Lounge said...

I totally agree with you. I was part of a gaming community long time ago and I was known for being the 'most talented' and that made me feel I was part of that community and I always ended up going back there whenever.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 4:51:00 am  
Anonymous Flame[Outline] said...

Wow, I love the idea of giving multiple member awards. At my forum, we have one Member of the Month award, but giving different things to different members is a great idea. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009 12:53:00 am  

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