Most communities overlook a number of elements that would increase engagement and participation. Here are, by far, the 8 biggest elements every online community should have.

  1. An epic community history. Your community should have a written epic history which all members can read. This history should be easy to find on your page.
  2. A 'who’s who'of members. You should feature prominent members in your who’s who of members. This will create interest and desire to be featured in this list. You can have a selection criteria.
  3. A list of upcoming events. Every online community should have a list of upcoming events/activities taking place. They can be hosted by your community or, more broadly, events about the community’s topic matter. Don’t have any? Start some.
  4. The big issues page. What are the big issues in your online community at the moment? You should have a page or box dedicated to the big issues in your community along with an invitation to give an opinion on the issue.
  5. Plans for the future. When members join a community they’re investing their time to be a co-owner of a better future. You need to outline what the future for your community looks like.
  6. A useful FAQ. Most new members usually ask very similar questions (they might have joined solely to ask the question). So put together an FAQ solely about these questions. On Commania this would have included: “How much should I charge for community building work?” and “What platform should I use to create a community”. Compile these questions and link them to where they have been answered.
  7. Be more involved page. Every online community should offer ways members can be more involved.
  8. Your contact number. This is your job, your members are your customers, they should be able to reach you by phone to resolve issues. Talking by phone also builds a stronger connection than by e-mail. Buy a SkypeIn number if you have to – but offer a number members can call.

You will notice nearly all of these elements provide members with ways to learn more about the community or become more involved with the community in the future. This is how it should be and where you should always be focusing your efforts.

(Image via The NounProject)

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