On-boarding new members is one of the most critical responsibilities for a community manager. The more activity in your community, the more valuable it becomes. Getting people to participate and come back depends greatly on those initial experiences.
That being said, here are some tips to help you with onboarding new community members in order to encourage them to participate and keep coming back.
1. Send a Welcome Email
Make sure new members get a welcome email with a call to action. When new members join your community, consider sending a personalized welcome email and ensure that it includes a clear call-to-action for their next steps. For example, encourage them to update their profile with a photo, or update other details, such as their hobbies. The best time to get people engaged is right from the very beginning, as they are only new members once.
2. Follow-up with New Members
If they don't update their profile, or are not engaged in the community after one or two weeks, it might be worthwhile to reach out again. For example, you can ask if there is something you can do to help them get started.
3. Setup a Thread for New Members Introductions
Encourage new users to introduce themselves to the community and suggest some things that they can share about themselves. Consider creating a new thread or category entitled “New to the community? Introduce yourself".
The King Community does a great job at doing this. As you can see in the image below, they have a page for new members to introduce themselves. This ensures that new members feel welcome. Further, new members are also introduced to the community moderators and the "Super Stars."
4. Setup a 'Get Started' Category
This is a great idea for new members to find (newbie) questions and forum rules. A "Get Started" category can be great place to to include your code of conduct and FAQs.
5. Share Community Details
Share the inside scoop on how the community works, such as the things you can do with the software. You can also share things like rituals, how moderation works or seasonal events that are a big deal in the community.
Acer does a great job at this by having a page exclusively dedicated to new members, where they can learn about the purpose of the community and what they can get from it. You can see in the image below that new members are provided with details about the community, making new members feel welcome and involved right off the bat.
6. Get Help From Your Super Fans
Recruit your super fans or volunteer moderators to help out with onboarding. There's nothing worse than a first time poster's question going unanswered or first time comment going unnoticed. Posting somewhere for the first time is a big deal, so you want to encourage your regulars to pay attention to first timers and give them a pat on the back or +1 a question if it goes unanswered.
7. Collect Feedback
Get feedback on community improvements and suggestions for the onboarding process from your new members. After the second or third month of membership, you might consider an email survey or a poll in your forum. Ask them what they like or dislike about the community, or invite them to share suggestions on how you can make the on-boarding process better.
Asking for feedback to make things better is a great way to ensure you are doing the right things in keeping your community healthy and growing.
8. Monitor Community Stats
Measure to identify future volunteers from your new members. Keep an eye on the community stats of members and identify new members who are still highly engaged after 4 to 6 months. Consider approaching them about getting involved further, for example, writing blog content or volunteering to join the welcoming committee to engage right away with your newest members.
These are only some tips to assist you in increasing and growing your community, but there are certainly more that can be done.
Do you have other tips for onboarding new members? Share them in the comments!