Converting Newcomers Into Active Community Members [Video]

Some community managers wait for visitors to stumble upon their community, then throw the kitchen sink at them to keep them active. This approach seems like it might be helpful, but it can actually overwhelm newcomers and scare activity away. According to a study on the foundation for successful online communities, 68% of members will post just one message. Research also shows that many prospective members will sign up for a community just to gain access to the information there. They don't even anticipate involving themselves in the conversation -- the social and emotional aspects of the community. As community managers, our challenge is to help newcomers overcome any social fear of participation. We must motivate them to contribute by engaging them from the start, then continuing to encourage collaboration and its related affinities. There are plenty of tools and techniques to help us dial it in.

In the following webinar, FeverBee's Richard Millington reviews key elements of the conversion process and shares a data-based approach for crafting the ideal new member experience. Watch this presentation to learn how to optimize a new member's journey from registration through the first major milestones and how to combine social and technological processes to boost conversion rates. (The Q&A is available here.)

Not for the faint of heart, this lesson requires you to roll up your sleeves and dive into community data using stratified sampling techniques to better understand your current conversion ratios. You will be tasked with using Google Analytics and community metrics to:

  • Find the number of unique, new IP address (visitors) and compare that with how many new members registered for your community within the previous 30 days. (Hint: 9% is average for new communities that do not apply any of these optimization techniques.)
  • Calculate the number of newly registered members that convert into active participants within the first 30 days.
  • Generate a systematic sampling of 100 registered members within the past month and find out whether those members made contributions and/or where they dropped out.
  • Identify when and where members drop out, so you can pinpoint when and where you should intervene in order to keep members on target to hit milestones that will help them through their first three months -- the point at which newbies transition from participants into regular, long-term members of the community.

Now that you have an idea of how many (or few) members stick with you to create and comment on a few posts, it's time to make some changes! There are many tools at our disposal, and we can plan a variety of interventions to increase initial participation. We can...

  • Tinker with the notification system by modifying its subject line, altering the content, adjusting the number of messages or the time they are delivered, and changing who the notes come from.
  • Increase community response time, so that anyone who posts a comment or new discussion will receive a response within 12 hours.
  • Modify the characteristics of each response to align with that particular member's journey.
  • Create more robust new member guidelines and include more pointers on how to participate, and information on the culture and history of the community.
  • Get creative and iterate.

What kinds of programs do you have in place to make your new member journey that prepares newcomers to participate and motivates them to remain active?


For more community management best practices, download half of Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities for free, then thank @RichMillington!

Converting Newcomers Into Active Community Members is the fifth in a series of Community Management Talks with FeverBee founder Richard Millington, who has already shared strategies for generating activity, managing growth, creating content, facilitating member engagement, and the science behind it all. Richard has spent the last 10 years mastering a range of social sciences, refining key community management skills, learning how to use and apply data, collaborating with over a hundred different organizations, and amassing a collection of case studies to tackle every situation. 

To be alerted of upcoming Community Management Talks, email Allison with the subject line "Add me."

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