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Proper Community Irrigation

Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)

Activity is the lifeblood of your community. In a support community, recent activity represents the possibility that my question will be answered quickly (if it hasn't already been posted). For an engagement community, active conversations increase the likelihood that there are others like me in the community to connect with.

One of the easiest ways to increase activity in your community is to place your links where the most people will see them, which will in turn increase the number who visit and therefore the number who are likely to post. Conversely, one of the quickest ways to kill your community is to fail to adequately promote it. You can (and should) do all you can within the community to encourage members to participate, but if no one shows up you are limited in what you can influence. The more of your target audience you can attract to your community, the greater your chances of success.

Which leads to one of the key best practices we've seen for community success:

Place persistent and prominent links to the community on your well trafficked web pages.

Links should be persistent, meaning they appear on every page load in a consistent position to get penetration (i.e., not rotating banner ads). And the links should be prominent, meaning that they should appear above the fold of the page without scrolling, and are not buried within multiple sub-menus. The top 3 pages for most organizations should come as no surprise:

  • Your main home page
  • Your main navigation in a common header
  • Your main support page/program page

Other types of promotion are useful (email outreach, newsletters, in-product links and documentation), but none of these have been shown to be a substitute for those highly visible links of the main pages of your site.

Obviously this is very valuable web real estate for the organization, so there may be a number of people you need to convince to place your links on all of those pages. But time spent early in getting that approval can pay very large dividends in the future for your community.

Communities thirst for activity - make sure you are using the biggest pipes to get it there.

About the Author
Scott is a Client Services Engagement Manager at Lithium and the Community Manager for the Lithosphere community. In this role he helps enterprise organizations using social media to locate and engage their brand advocates and influencers to address real business challenges.