For business or personal use, more and more people are turning to social networking platforms to do work, or to engage friends, relatives and associates in a charity, interest or activity.
Too often, efforts are abandoned soon after initiation due to an early lack of response or engagement. But, meaningful success can be found. With a little planning and work, your group can quickly become a place where people want to visit, and return to.
Fill the space: If someone walks into an empty room, they may very well wonder why they are there at all. If creating a group in Facebook, Yammer, Slack or another enterprise networking tool, make sure you have filled the space. Add a group picture, information about the group, and resources that your visitors will find valuable. Just as if you were decorating a room at your house with a couch, an easy chair and maybe a few throw pillows, make the place look nice, vibrant and lived in. You would not publish a website before it’s completely built. Don’t invite people into a group before all the information they are looking for is there.
Use Manipulative Techniques: When starting the group, you may need to encourage people to start to post. The first post, or posts, can be from you, but make sure they get replies. That may mean you will have to ask someone to respond. Or ask someone to ask someone else to respond. Often, once comments and posts start to appear, activity will start to increase on its own.
Don’t use email: Once you give people reason to not use your group space, it will not be used. You have information they want, so make sure they understand where it is, and how they can access it. If you respond to emails that say “I don’t have time to visit the group, can you just email the file I need to me?” by emailing the file they need, why would they ever visit your group? Emphasize where information can be found, and help people feel comfortable with the technology platform.
Use email: OK, so I am going to contradict myself a bit here. Don’t use email, except when it makes sense for you to use email. Use email as a means by which you can get people to the information they are looking for. Everything online has a URL.Every group has a URL, every comment, every resource.
“I can’t find the group, can you just post this question for me?” “No I can’t, but here is the link for the group. You can click on the link and make the post yourself!”
“I don’t have time to look for that file. Just email it to me.” “Great news, the file is right here! Just click on the link, and you can download it from the group.”
Never send content, always send links to bring people back to the only place they will find the information they need.
Every post gets a reply: There is nothing that will drive someone away from your online space faster than a post that gets no replies. Every post gets a reply. If someone is at your dinner party, and no one talks to them, they are walking out the door. Every reply should not come from the administrator of the group, but the administrator can work behind the scenes to ensure replies are made. Don’t forget, manipulation of your online space is completely acceptable.
In the movie Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella heard a voice tell him “If you build it, he will come.” Sadly, many of us look at our online efforts in the same way. If we create a group, we think people will come. If we write a blog piece, people will read it. If we post a resource, people will download it. But don’t forget, Ray worked really hard on that field. He tore up his corn crops, planted the sod, put up lights for night games, and installed bleachers so people could watch. Ray made his field a place people wanted to visit.
People will come to your online space, people will definitely come. But, be prepared. Build your space, populate your space, help people use your space. With a little preparation and a little time, your online space will be a place that people will want to visit.