Community Resource Roundup

We know it’s Monday, but we can get through it together. Lets dive into this pool of articles and start the week off strong.

Many of us are hesitant to let our members behind the decision making curtain. However, transparency has become more of an expectation, and can help you garner trust with your community.

“The stronger and more stable your transparency architecture is, the more you can attract your members to get involved in the inner workings of the organization leading to more engagement and better retention.”

This article is different from the others we have shared in past roundups. We know forums are where niche communities gather, whether it be for business or hobbies. This makes them highly valuable for website owners. If you have your own website, try using forums as a way to get new
readers and clients.

“No matter the niche, there are enough forums where people gather and discuss their business or hobbies. Those people are a targeted audience that can be converted into loyal readers and clients one way or another.”

A website can often be like a revolving door for traffic, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into value. It should be your goal to make your website a place where these people enter and stay because they are engaged with the content. Adding a forum to your site can help you achieve this result.

“It’s all well and good to have a site that brings in thousands of viewers everyday, but it’s even better if when they visit and hang around for a while too.”

Who came up with the term lurker? I mean, couldn’t they have chosen something less creepy? Anyway, this is the common term for someone that hangs out in a community, but doesn’t contribute. It is the struggle of every community manager to convert them into active members of the community.

“Most CMs have likely wondered how they can turn lurkers into regular contributors. There’s some academic research that dives into this topic. Yes, you read that correctly: academic research. (Stay with me…)”

We know that trying to increase your forum’s activity can be frustrating. But never give up! There are always more things you can try until you find a formula that works. Here are five more things that you can try to increase forum activity.

“One of the most common causes of a forums activity decreasing is the admin decreasing their own activity. From what I’ve seen, most community owners do one huge burst of topics and posts when the forum is first created, but then decide to only create a few topics here and there afterwards.”

Community Resource Roundup

We scoured the internet last week and collected a group of articles that cover a lot of ground. Here is the lay of the land in this week’s community resource roundup.

From the very beginning, community creators need to draft a basic outline of their forum rules. These rules need to be clearly defined, and located in an accessible place on the forum when you have finished building your community.

“Regardless of how many open or closed spaces your online community has, a clear, consistent set of community rules is essential to establishing a safe space for all members and stakeholders who participate. ”

Rewarding members can be a double edged sword if you don’t consider the behavior that you are trying to get out of your members. Use this guide to help you define your reward strategy.

“A good reward scheme identifies a desired outcome and creates a reward, based upon human motivation, which changes an individual’s behavior over the long-term. A bad reward scheme will do neither.”

If you want to increase engagement within your community, you need to be out among your members leading the way. Conduct yourself in the same manner as a party host: make new people feel welcome, point people in the right direction, and help facilitate the conversation.

“Getting people to interact with others and upload content to a community-driven site enough may sound easy, but engagement doesn’t happen automatically. It takes time and work, and much of the right formula is deduced through trial and error.”

Okay. This article was a little self-indulgent. I mean come on! How often do you see an article use the experience of your favorite local pub to explain how to monetize your forum? Raise your glasses to this one. Cheers! 

“Just like your favorite local bar, the people who come to your forum are looking for comfort and familiarity, without the glitz and glamour. Achieve that and you’ll have a much greater chance of plugging leaks in your monetization strategy and raising your ad income.”

How do you deal with conflict on your forum? Sometimes it can arise from a simple moment of miscommunication. Use this article to get some useful tips so that you know how to quell the fire before it gets too hot.

“As a Community Manager, your first reaction to conflict might be stamp on it through moderation and banning, but you must remember that you don’t want to create an atmosphere where people feel their views are being suppressed.”

Community Resource Roundup

You caught us. This week we only have four instead of five articles to share with you because we celebrated America’s birthday last monday. But we are positive these articles can pick up the slack for the missing candidate. Let’s begin.

Moderation is an art form. It takes time to develop your style and add new things to your palette. Try adding the SEE Method to your toolbox.

“There is no single way to be a “good” moderator — there are many effective and different styles. In fact, a successful moderator develops their own, unique style to develop and expand the network of conversations within the community.”

A community’s growth is directly linked to the hard work of community managers. Apply these five tips to increase growth, happy membership, and get an upper leg on the competition.

“Creating an authentic, home-grown online community is not easy! A strong community is a complex ecosystem revolving around a particular cause or interest. The most high functioning communities seem to grow naturally, but actually flourish because of engaged community managers.”

Everyone can tell if a community is active or not within the first minute of loading the page. But most of us are still left scratching our heads when it comes to generating activity in our own communities. With this article, you can peel back the layers to the question: “How do you sustain community activity?”

“Whoever is in charge of your online community should make it a point to find relevant topics on a consistent basis. This could be at the start of each week or mid-way through. Then you can post them to the community as regularly as possible.”

What are tasks follow the building phase of your online community? This article outlines thirteen that will make sure you maintain your growth every step of the way.

“Building an online community is just the beginning. You need to ensure that people show up to participate.Building an online community is just the beginning. You need to ensure that people show up to participate.”

Community Resource Roundup

Today feels a lot like Monday, but here we are with our weekly round of articles we shared last week.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many of us overlook the importance of finding the right members with the best qualities for our community. You should consider these five traits: people that are true believers in your vision for the community, people that both add value and get value from the community, are highly social, level headed, and know someone already in the community.

“The concept of choosing your community members may not have occurred to you before. We usually focus on changing the platforms, the questions we ask, the events we host, the community manager and other methods to improve our communities. But remember, a community is just a group of people and every individual person counts.”

A list of 25 posting etiquette guidelines to help new members, or current members, to take a step back before pounding their keyboards.

“What’s the etiquette for posting to online forums? There are no clear rules, but below are some guidelines you may want to follow:

  1. Read the forums rules and guidelines before posting for the first time.
  2. Search the other posts to see if your topic is already covered.
  3. Use a meaningful title for your thread.”

Use this cheat sheet of thirteen tips to help create well rounded moderators, like how to properly open up a conversation, address questions, and what sort of things contribute to your tone of voice. CAN YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE WHEN I TYPE IN ALL CAPS. 

“What makes for a successful moderator is having the confidence to put forth your own style in order to “grow” network conversations. The markings of an effective or interesting network dialogue are very similar to those of a good person-to-person conversation – a meaningful exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions or ideas. Moderating is about interpersonal communication.”

Don’t get overwhelmed by the work that goes into starting an online community. Let’s take it one step at time. Here we go: consider your user’s self-interests, sustain your momentum through adequate planning, developing a group of core members from the beginning, focus on getting members to return, and schedule out the release of new website elements.

“Starting an online community is something that has the potential to skyrocket your corporation or business by bringing together your clientele or followers. However, for many, it is also a daunting project. Not to worry, in these 5 easy steps we will share how you can start an online community and get it off the ground in no time.”

Have no fear. We got your back. Avoid these seven deadly sins to ensure that your community starts off on the right foot. Some of these sins include: Gluttony – Using too many community features, Sloth – Failing to do daily community management work, and Wrath – Over-emphasizing or over-enforcing community rules/guidelines.

“Think about why people engage in communities – they’re looking for context, a sense of belonging. Newbies need time to get acclimated. If you launch your brand new community with an immediate focus on “acquiring” new members, that will put these newbies off, especially if there’s no value or content for them when they first arrive.”

PB v6: Unlimited Plugin Space and Header/Footer Upgrade!

Hello ProBoards!

Did you miss me? I hope you’re beginning to look forward to these periodic announcements! Today we’re going to talk about plugins, headers and footers, and for some reason…salad.

Plugins:

I hope nobody thought paid plugins were the only exciting plugin change coming with v6! Plugins on ProBoards started out 3 years ago as an idea of a way to replace headers and footers on the forum. The idea was that instead of using complicated JavaScript code in your headers and footers to achieve different things on the forum, you could simply install a plugin and have a delicious graphical user interface to work with. Initially we decided to be conservative with plugins. We didn’t know how resource intensive it would get with all the plugins we imagined users creating! In the months and years after the release of v5 we realized that we could meet the resource demand of plugins and began questioning if we even needed to limit the amount of plugins a user could have on a forum at all. With our latest back-end upgrades that we’re doing in anticipation of v6 we’ve decided to lift the restrictions on the amount of plugins a forum can have. You read that right, all ProBoards forums will have unlimited* plugin space with the release of v6! With that said, on a very related note…

Headers and Footers:

We have to face the hard truth; headers and footers are the Candle Salad of the forum world. They’re both dated and (in general) not terribly useful when compared to other things (like plugins). Usage of headers and footers has dropped dramatically on ProBoards since the launch of v5 and we think it’s time we give headers and footers a new lease on life.

I can already hear the cries of “Wait! I use headers and footers on my forum!” Fear not! Prior to the release of v6 a new ProBoards Official Plugin™ will appear on your forum and your headers and footers will be automatically transferred over to this new plugin. This new plugin will be more powerful than the current version of headers and footers. It will allow you to enter your header and footer codes a single time, then select multiple boards to place them on without having to copy and paste them over and over. You can even choose to have a header or footer code only run on a specific theme! This new plugin makes headers and footers more powerful and rewarding than ever before.

That’s all for now everyone! Please look forward to our next announcement where we’ll continue to bring you the best and most interesting news about ProBoards v6.

*Within reason. If for some reason you are running too many plugins such that it causes performance issues we will contact you to figure out a reasonable solution.

FAQ:

I use headers and footers, what will change for me?

Absolutely nothing. Everything will be transferred for you automatically. You need to take no action at all!

I don’t use headers and footers at all, is there anything I need to do?

Nope!

Does this mean unlimited keys and super keys?

Yes! Once v6 launches you can have as many plugins that use keys or super keys as you’d like.