By Ted McEnroe, Director of Research and Training
You walk into a new place – maybe you have a new job, are a new member of a class, or a new volunteer somewhere. Everyone is gathered in groups, or rushing around and doing their thing. You stand there. Maybe after an uncomfortable amount of time someone comes up, shakes your hand and says, “Come on in, just get started,” and rushes away.
Where do you go? What do you do? And how do you find out?
It’s not a good feeling, and if you don’t have a welcome program for new members, it’s how those newbies feel when they log into your community.
You’re also not alone. The Community Roundtable’s State of Community Management 2016 finds barely half of communities have anything their managers consider a new member program, and of those, some percentage consist of an automated email and/or a technical guide. It’s a start, but it’s potentially a missed opportunity. Our best-in-class set of communities were far more likely to offer a program for new members, including personal or automated welcome emails and getting started guides, but also incorporating training, welcome calls and webinars, video tours and other elements.
New member programs don’t have to be hard.
Need an easy way to get folks connected and help them settle into the community culture? Try something as simple as a welcome thread. It can be a place where you encourage a first post, or a thread where you as the community manager and party host introduce new arrivals. Then members can say hello and offer guidance – or it can be something you nudge moderators and advocates to take on in a rotating basis, ensuring that new members feel welcome.
Developing new member materials isn’t hard – your chosen methods should make sense for the size, use case and goals for your community. But consider it – because communities with new member programs had a third more active members than those that didn’t. That’s the long-term power of a short-term investment in the people in the community at a time when they need you most.
We can’t wait to hear what you think – tag your thoughts with #SOCM2016 to join the conversation!
Are you a member of TheCR Network? Download the research inside the Network here.