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%3CDIV%20class%3D%22lia-message-template-content-zone%22%3E%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-256%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3ESeeding%20Activity%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-256%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3E%3CP%3EI%20hear%20a%20lot%20of%20questions%20from%20customers%20asking%20about%20the%20best%20ways%20to%20seed%20content%20for%20their%20community.%20There%20is%20a%20common%20fear%20that%20if%20the%20community%20site%20doesn't%20contain%20everything%20a%20visitor%20is%20interested%20in%20from%20day%20one%20that%20the%20user%20will%20not%20return.%20What%20we%20try%20to%20explain%20is%20that%20seeding%20a%20lot%20of%20content%20is%20not%20your%20most%20pressing%20need%20at%20the%20start%3B%20it%20is%20really%20about%20seeding%20activity.%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3CBR%20%2F%3EI%20don't%20mean%20to%20imply%20that%20content%20is%20unimportant.%20Your%20community%20site%20will%20become%20an%20excellent%20source%20of%20content%20in%20the%20days%20to%20come.%20But%20the%20real%20test%20of%20a%20community%20is%20not%20how%20much%20content%20it%20contains%2C%20but%20how%20much%20activity%20is%20going%20on.%20People%20don't%20post%20questions%20to%20a%20community%20site%20because%20of%20all%20the%20content%20that%20is%20there.%20They%20submit%20their%20questions%20because%20they%20see%20enough%20people%20around%20who%20could%20answer%20them.%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3CBR%20%2F%3EHere%20are%20some%20ways%20you%20can%20seed%20activity%20for%20your%20community%20prior%20to%20your%20launch%3A%3CBR%20%2F%3E%3C%2FP%3E%3CUL%3E%3CLI%3EPlan%20to%20post%20any%20seed%20content%20over%20a%20period%20of%20a%20week%20or%20two%2C%20starting%20just%202-3%20days%20before%20you%20launch%20to%20the%20public.%20This%20will%20ensure%20at%20least%20one%20steady%20source%20of%20activity%20in%20the%20all%20important%20first%20days%20after%20your%20launch.%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3EIf%20you%20have%20identified%20a%20group%20of%20potential%20superusers%2C%20invite%20them%20in%202-3%20days%20before%20everyone%20else%20to%20use%20the%20site%20and%20provide%20feedback.%20This%20engages%20those%20members%20early%20on%20and%20helps%20to%20build%20the%20activity%20that%20new%20visitors%20will%20be%20looking%20for.%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3EPrepare%20an%20event%20such%20as%20%22Ask%20the%20Expert%22%20or%20similar%20to%20occur%20shortly%20following%20the%20launch%2C%20and%20open%20up%20a%20temporary%20board%20for%20advance%20questions.%20Limited%20time%20events%20focus%20attention%20and%20help%20members%20overcome%20the%20procrastination%20barrier.%20A%20series%20of%20recurring%20events%20can%20become%20a%20regular%20generator%20of%20activity%20in%20your%20community.%3C%2FLI%3E%3CLI%3EPromote%20your%20community!%20You%20can't%20influence%20members%20to%20participate%20if%20they%20don't%20know%20you%20exist.%20Throw%20as%20much%20traffic%20as%20you%20can%20at%20this%20problem%20to%20increase%20your%20odds%20for%20success.%3C%2FLI%3E%3C%2FUL%3EA%20last%20word%20about%20seeding%20content%3A%20be%20wary%20of%20drowning%20out%20the%20voice%20of%20your%20members.%20If%20a%20large%20part%20of%20the%20content%20is%20coming%20from%20you%2C%20it%20usually%20means%20that%20you%20are%20not%20getting%20enough%20traffic%20or%20you%20are%20not%20providing%20your%20members%20enough%20time%20to%20respond.%20Nothing%20will%20kill%20a%20conversation%20deader%20than%20the%20%22voice%20of%20authority%22%20stepping%20in.%20So%20pace%20yourself%2C%20and%20give%20your%20members%20time%20to%20work%20through%20an%20issue%20on%20their%20own.%3CBR%20%2F%3E%20%3CBR%20%2F%3E%20These%20are%20just%20some%20ideas%20for%20building%20activity%20in%20your%20community%20-%20if%20you%20have%20others%20to%20share%2C%20post%20them%20in%20the%20comments!%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CP%3E%26nbsp%3B%3C%2FP%3E%3CDIV%20class%3D%22message-edit-history%22%3E%3CSPAN%20class%3D%22edit-author%22%3EMessage%20Edited%20by%20scottd%20on%20%3C%2FSPAN%3E%3CSPAN%20class%3D%22local-date%22%3E%2007-29-2008%3C%2FSPAN%3E%3CSPAN%20class%3D%22local-time%22%3E%2010%3A16%20PM%3C%2FSPAN%3E%3C%2FDIV%3E%3C%2FLINGO-BODY%3E%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-260%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3ERe%3A%20Seeding%20Activity%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-260%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3EThanks%20for%20posting%20Bryan!%20At%20the%20end%20I%20was%20thinking%20more%20about%20community%20managers%20who%20worry%20about%20leaving%20any%20posts%20unanswered%20(as%20opposed%20to%20actually%20driving%20the%20conversation).%20But%20your%20point%20is%20an%20important%20one%20as%20well.%20And%20often%20we%20are%20unaware%20how%20disruptive%20our%20well-meaning%20comments%20may%20be.%20Community%20Managers%20should%20save%20their%20interventions%20for%20where%20they%20are%20really%20needed.%3C%2FLINGO-BODY%3E%3CLINGO-SUB%20id%3D%22lingo-sub-259%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3ERe%3A%20Seeding%20Activity%3C%2FLINGO-SUB%3E%3CLINGO-BODY%20id%3D%22lingo-body-259%22%20slang%3D%22en-US%22%3EGlad%20to%20hear%20that%20worked%20so%20well%20for%20you%20Ma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Seeding Activity

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

I hear a lot of questions from customers asking about the best ways to seed content for their community. There is a common fear that if the community site doesn't contain everything a visitor is interested in from day one that the user will not return. What we try to explain is that seeding a lot of content is not your most pressing need at the start; it is really about seeding activity.

I don't mean to imply that content is unimportant. Your community site will become an excellent source of content in the days to come. But the real test of a community is not how much content it contains, but how much activity is going on. People don't post questions to a community site because of all the content that is there. They submit their questions because they see enough people around who could answer them.

Here are some ways you can seed activity for your community prior to your launch:

  • Plan to post any seed content over a period of a week or two, starting just 2-3 days before you launch to the public. This will ensure at least one steady source of activity in the all important first days after your launch.
  • If you have identified a group of potential superusers, invite them in 2-3 days before everyone else to use the site and provide feedback. This engages those members early on and helps to build the activity that new visitors will be looking for.
  • Prepare an event such as "Ask the Expert" or similar to occur shortly following the launch, and open up a temporary board for advance questions. Limited time events focus attention and help members overcome the procrastination barrier. A series of recurring events can become a regular generator of activity in your community.
  • Promote your community! You can't influence members to participate if they don't know you exist. Throw as much traffic as you can at this problem to increase your odds for success.
A last word about seeding content: be wary of drowning out the voice of your members. If a large part of the content is coming from you, it usually means that you are not getting enough traffic or you are not providing your members enough time to respond. Nothing will kill a conversation deader than the "voice of authority" stepping in. So pace yourself, and give your members time to work through an issue on their own.

These are just some ideas for building activity in your community - if you have others to share, post them in the comments!

 

 

Message Edited by scottd on 07-29-2008 10:16 PM
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.
4 Comments
Honored Contributor
Honored Contributor
Scott,

Some really great advice here - some of the things you recommend, we implemented at the start of our community - specifically inviting in the moderation team and some super users to get started early before we opened to the public and I think it paid off huge for us. This core group was not only comfortable with the platform, but there was momentum when the doors opened.

I like your ideas of the limited time and special events - maybe doing those with a live forum / chat? I'd love to hear more on this from some of your community managers who have tried this - hopefully this will be a discussion in some realm of the Lithosphere.

In addition to activity, I wonder if you might also expand a bit on modeling behavior. I think it is also important to demonstrate the proper behavior with this early group if possible, because new members often emulate what they see, and as the community grows, it will begin to regulate itself through peer influence in addition to more direct efforts by the moderation team.

As part of new community start up, I would recommend that the community management team - the business stake holders, admins, moderators discuss the tone and behavior of conversations they would like to see. I wonder if enough time is spent on developing that clear vision in advance, so that it can be used to help define the rules of conduct, moderation efforts, and the activity tactics that you suggest to foster it?

Mark
New Commentator
Nice post, Scott. Your point at the very end about members of the host company not overwhelming or intimidating members by dominating the conversations themselves is an important one. The hosts are there to *guide* the conversation rather than control it.

Promoting the community outside of the community itself is essential, too. That means that links and drivers to the community site from the main site -- if they don't happen to be one and the same -- should be easy to find. Highlighting content from that community site on the main site -- displaying recent posts or comments, new photos/videos, etc. -- is helpful as well. You're quite right that all the hard work you're doing in your community isn't worth much if nobody can find it!

--Bryan Person
LiveWorld
Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Glad to hear that worked so well for you Mark! And Chat/Live Forums is certainly one way to host events, but don't discount the idea of using a discussion board that you archive after a limited time period. Asynchronous events like that can help broaden the window of opportunity for your users, but still provide that focused time period. Definitely a great topic for further discussion in the Lithosphere.

Modeling behavior is also a good topic for a later post and/or discussion. I completely agree with you on providing good examples for the rest of the community to follow.
Lithium Alumni (Retired) Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Thanks for posting Bryan! At the end I was thinking more about community managers who worry about leaving any posts unanswered (as opposed to actually driving the conversation). But your point is an important one as well. And often we are unaware how disruptive our well-meaning comments may be. Community Managers should save their interventions for where they are really needed.