How to Build a Web 2.0 Community: The Secrets to Success
A thriving online community will provide you with significant increases in Web site traffic from your most passionate information-seekers, because once a user has posted content, they wants to see what happens next.
But traffic from user-generated content doesn’t happen on its own (especially at the start). You will need to build in specific processes to ensure the quantity, quality and timeliness of the content. And, you’ll also need to use some simple direct-marketing tactics to motivate users to participate.
These should be a part of a thoughtful, integrated plan across multiple disciplines, including IT functionality, editor participation and e-mail marketing. Here are some of the strategies you need to include. (For the sake of brevity, I’ll use a forum as an example, but these concepts apply to most Web 2.0 content.)
Step 1: Create Visitor Retrieval “Hooks.”
E-mail Confirmation. After a visitor has registered and posted their first message, send them an e-mail confirmation so that they’ll later remember where they posted their comment. Remember to include very specific calls to action to return to the forum. Also include copy in the e-mail that tells them about the rest of the site, and provide links to encourage further visits.
Event-Driven E-mails. When a registrant has posted a comment, an e-mail should be sent to the person who posted the original item to alert them. Again, make this e-mail very action-oriented. For example, if the recipient doesn’t return within a pre-set time period, consider sending them a “last-chance” reminder warning that their posting may be removed from the forum unless they return.
Formal On-Site and E-Newsletter Promotion. To drive more readers to the site, feature the most notable and popular postings in lots of places, including pages outside of the forum; in your e-mail newsletter; and inside your print publication. (Just be sure, when a visitor registers, to include a provision that, by registering, they are providing you with permission to re-purpose their content.)