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Tips for avoiding the online community dead zone

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by Lauren Hart Piper, Vice President, Product Management and Marketing

With all of the digital “noise” we deal with every day, online communities cannot survive with a “if we build it, they will come” strategy. Companies and organizations who have executed this strategy are finding their online communities to be dead zones.  Without strong content and paying attention to its members, companies are not reaping the benefits of online communities.

Consider this from Gartner:   

“By 2014, 70% of proprietary communities will fail, leaving them as dormant investments among the world’s largest enterprises.”

So what is an organization to do?  Here are a few quick tips on how you can combat the dead zone as you nurture your online community.

Content! Content! Content!  Let me say it one more time? Content! 

Content is the #1 element to attracting and retaining members in your community. But the key to content is that it must be easy to access, be constantly fresh and deliver value to the reader.

Access

Give some to get some. Content that is gated or behind a wall discourages users from a community.  You have to be willing to give away some of your content to create that trusted relationship in order to turn users into members.

Fresh 

How many times have we gone to a community and found the dates on content more than a year old? When I am in these communities, I don’t stay. I want to be where there is current and up-to-date information.

Use RSS feeds to bring in fresh, up to date content from your super fans or customers who frequently blog about your company, products and services from an external website.

Know an analyst who blogs on the industry your products or services serve? Invite the blogger to your community and set up an RSS feed to automatically post the analysts blog from their own website so you can share this expert content with your members.

Value

Each piece of content you post to your community should be helpful, thought provoking and even humorous. Don’t just post for the sake of posting or to be disruptive.  You don’t want your content to be considered spam.

Ask yourself the “so what” question before you post a piece of content.

“Is your piece of content surprising?”

“Is it worth reading twice?”

“Does it answer a question that is on people’s minds?

Of course your content shouldn’t just be limited to text.    Mix it up with videos, photos, and infographics.

Content is what attracts users to your community, converts them to members and retains them as contributors.

Try some of these tips and avoid the dead zone for your community.

Have some best practices or experiences in keeping your online communities vibrant and engaging?  Share them here. We love to hear how others are making their communities live and vibrant.

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