Creating Member Engagement in Your Online Group

by Mike Mintz on April 21, 2010 · 0 comments

in Martindale-Hubbell Connected

We currently have over 700 groups and counting on Martindale-Hubbell Connected.  Each of these groups is a mini-community  unto itself, and as community manager I often get questions on how to create member engagement in these groups.  Usually a group owner will see members join, but then no one says anything.  This post provides you with some quick tips to get those conversations going.

Create Pillar Content

As a rule of thumb you want to have at least 1-piece of content in each available area on your group.  If a new member sees nothing in your blog, 1-forum post, and no media uploads they are not likely to start posting away for you.  It’s easy to create basic posts to fill these areas.  For example:

  • Blog – a blog post can be your vision for the group – an expanded description of sorts – tell members why you started it and what your hopes are for it.  Ask them for comments on what they’d like to see in the group.
  • Forum – a quick win is always the “Introduce Yourself” forum.  Ask for their name, place of work, and then a fun question related to the group like “what is your favorite lawyer depiction in TV or movies?” or “who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice of all time” (my two answers: Daniel Caffe in A Few Good Men and Oliver Wendel Holmes).
  • File Library – upload a PDF of an article you’ve written or found interesting.  Alternatively, upload useful forms, checklists, or presentations.

Building an Inner Circle

As the group owner you can “enroll” people using their Connected user name (rather than getting an invite, they will automatically be put in the group).  Enroll connections you know personally and then ask them to help you make the group a great resource for others in that practice area.  Change all of their roles to “manager” and encourage them to blog.  The more people you empower and get excited about your group, the less you’ll have falling on your shoulders to keep the group going.  I’ve written about this before and call it “the Tom Sawyer principle.”

Build the Membership

Once you have your core group of managers, have them enroll their personal connections.  Also, use your “announcements” (accessed through “edit my profile”) to promote the group.  Whenever a great post goes up each of your should highlight it with a link to the group.  Also, use Twitter or other broadcast means to ask people to check it out.  Finally, make sure that the inner circle commits to be “first responders” to anything posted by other inner circle members.  No one likes to be the first one on the dance floor, but they also don’t like seeing no comments or activity in a group either, so this is a way to break through the goose egg syndrome.

Create a Mini-Event

Get together with your inner circle to create a mini-event where you guys will present special content.  Offerings can include such things as  a blogathon (scheduled blogs over 5 days), an contest to upload your best form (offer a prize for the highest rated form – most votes and most stars), a moderated forum discussion, etc.  Then promote this event to your group and non-Connected members to drive more people into the group.  Also, Connected Community Managers would be more than happy to help you promote it.

I hope these tips help you get more out of your groups either on Connected or elsewhere (the principles are applicable).  We’d love to hear your tips below.

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