How to get that first interaction with a new member.
When a new member joins the community, it’s important to give them something to do as a “quick win,” something that makes them feel like a part of things right off the bat.
Often the go-to recommendation is to set up an “introduce yourself” topic. However, unless you give some specifics as to what you want, it can be intimidating if the first person posts a 500 word essay about their life.
Better to do something really easy and quick, like “what are you working on right now,” or “share a picture of your home office.” Those are doable, and fast, and easy for the existing community members to absorb too.
You want your current members to be able to welcome the newbies, and those gigantic catch-all introduction topics are rarely visited by the rest of the community.
Set up an alert that tells you specifically when a new member has made their first post. That’s something to be celebrated! You can make sure they get a good response, and/or send them an extra welcome message.
Make sure the initial, primary call to action is clear and prominent. Are there too many ways to post? If you've got several options available, consider narrowing it down so it's not overwhelming.
Do you have members who are used to other technology, like listservs? Enable "post by email" and allow them to simply post as if they're composing an email. That might remove all friction for them.
Make sure your welcome email and onboarding emails specifically call out the value of making an initial contribution. Tell members that their first post will be welcomed and appreciated by the other members.
Do you have space for less serious, off-topic conversation? Regardless of your community's area of focus, you might want to create a place for harmless engagement. It offers a less intimidating entry point.
Make your community a "safe space," which is reflected in how you moderate/screen content, how you present your guidelines, how you engage with the members, and the types of content you highlight. Do you present your community like the Harvard Business Review, or like a corner coffee shop?
Use the "mention" feature to draw out community members who you know have relevant experience on a certain topic. Sometimes all the member needs is a signal from the Admin that they're valuable.
Surveys are simple and awesome. Everyone has opinions, and it's much easier to vote on something (remember multiple-choice exams in school?) than it is to write an essay.
Ask a prompting question and gather replies/answers in the forums. Take a look at your most popular content (check out your reports) and use that as the basis for the question, so you already know it's of interest to your community. It's a smaller "ask" to reply to something than to write your own new topic.
Highlight the use of reactions, first by incentivizing them in your activity points formula (maybe bump up their point value), second by telling community members about how they can be used, and third by using them yourself.