A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

Building an Irresistible Private Membership Community

October 16th, 2010

This is my last session. My goal is to have an online community running next year, so the tips from this session will likely be very valuable.

Panelists are:
Patrick O’Keefe (author of “Managing Online Forums”)
Chris Garrett (of Problogger)
Lara Kulpa (community manger at Problogger)

(Jeremy Wright is moderating.)

Some initial tips included:
Be a member on communities first to see how they work.
Don’t make a big list of things you can’t do. Just say “be nice”.
Do make a basic list of guidelines.
Providing a paid membership makes for higher quality conversation and less spam, even if you just charge $1 per month!
In a community, be sure to lead from the front. Act the way you want others to act and they will follow.

Looking at communities in a math or ratio level is bad. It is more important to look toward if the community is of value. Don’t get caught up in the numbers, fill a need.

Sending a weekly email newsletter to community members that want it can get the members coming back.

The most challenging situation that Patrick deals with is long-time members that go against the guidelines.

Patrick chooses moderators from among the model citizens within the community.

What are some important guidelines?

Chris says:
1. Be nice
2. My house, my rules

Patrick says that he offers a vision statement for the community and also specific guidelines. They are alive and can change. They get adapted as you go. They change for each community. They vary.

What components are in a thriving community?

Chris says:
1. If you are not there, is still thrives.
2. If an online community wants to meet in person.

Lara says: When you see people collaborating and connecting.

Patrick says: When two people meet and get married. (AWww… ) He also says that it is different for each community. Yet, he agrees with the above. He adds that when you can hire people from within the community to run the community, that is a good sign.

How do you get members?

Chris says: Syphon offer people from other communities (ethically). Participating in a community well and putting your link in the signature works. Blogs are an enormous opportunity. If people are already communicating to each other within your blog comments, that is a good time to create a community.

To avoid the situation where the same people are asking questions all the time, ask for questions in advance. That way no one person dominates the discussion. However, the same people asking the same questions is not necessarily a problem, if the questions are good.

The best situation is when a new person asks great questions.

If few people are talking in your private forum, you can have some friends as “beta testers” to start asking questions. It’s the empty restaurant syndrome. Even if you have a great chef, if no one is there, no one else will jump in. However, once you get the first few, others will start lining up.