Getting people to make that first post

(Sarah Hawk) #1

One of the trickiest things to crack in any community is getting people to make that first post. What do we want to know about new users and how can we make it easy for them to overcome that initial barrier?

I’m considering changing our welcome thread because I think it may be a bit intimidating as an initial call to action. I want to lower the barrier to entry and I’m considering 2 short questions.


  • Where are you from?
  • What is your interest in community?

I’m not sure about that second one. Thoughts?

Data or studies on not sub-forumizing?
Giving the best first impression (through email) after members sign up
(KaraAdams312) #2

Perhaps: What is the biggest challenge you’re currently facing?

(Sarah Hawk) #3

Hey @KaraAdams312 – thanks for jumping in. :slight_smile:

I wonder whether people will feel comfortable sharing a challenge or problem before they get a feel for the community (which can come across as quite dry and professional) so I’m hoping to create a very low barrier to entry.

Out of interest, you received the automated email inviting you to share what you’re working on in the current welcome thread but you didn’t. You did respond to my personal invitation to participate in this thread though. What drove that decision?

(Doug Agee) #4

Good topic @HAWK. We started with an “Introduce yourself” and it does a pretty good job. Our community members, right now, are leaders, so the type A’s of the org. We still have a lot of lurkers. And I get a fair amount of the “I love the community, but haven’t had anything good to add to the conversation” excuse when I reach out.

So my opinion. An introduction thread is probably the easiest and most comfortable topic for people to talk about. Adding the “what are you working on” or “what is your interest/challenge” is easy for admins and champions to jump in and start a conversation with the new member.

(Bo McGuffee) #5

I like “how did you find us?” as a start because it’s easy to answer. Then, “what is your interest in community dynamics?” because it gives members an option to tell us about their endeavors in as in-depth as they feel initially comfortable. So, answers could be as simple as, “I found you through a google search. I’m interested because I’m starting a Facebook group.” Follow up questions can go from there.

(Sarah Hawk) #6

I like that one. It will be useful for inbound marketing purposes as well.

(Alessio Fattorini) #7

At the beginning I started a big topic as you, but it was hard and too long to read for newcomers so I changed into several different weekly posts, where I used to mention new people directly (exporting the CSV from Discourse and a simple sed on the list is enough). After a few days I come back to them with a personal PM (similar to your personal email) and a CTA towards the last introduction topic.
For instance, take a look at this

Every time I strive to change the questions, meme and the introduction :wink: just for try something different, that’s the last one (sorry I stole you something here! ) :

(Rob Hudson) #8

Hi Sarah…As a brand new member I am interested initially to test whether I am going to belong here. I am guessing that will depend on the level of connection or engagement experience in the very first conversations. A question could therefore be who would you like to meet? In my case I am a complete novice and I want to meet anyone who has recently started a successful new community on a minimal budget with no experience.

(Alessio Fattorini) #9

Here I am, no budget and no experience at all, until 2 years ago :slight_smile:

Edit: it’s still in Italian, I can translate it in English if you’re interested in

Come far crescere una community da 0, senza perdersi qualcuno per strada! from Alessio Fattorini

(Rob Hudson) #10

Hi Ale…pleased to meet you. Yes I am really interested in your experiences. I have so many questions but as an “activist” learner just want to get started. Where can I see what you have acheived?

(Alessio Fattorini) #11

Although I didn’t write a lot about my experience, sharing with you may be a good reason to start off

(Rob Hudson) #12

What is the best way for me to tap into your offer to share? Thanks Ale

(Mark Baldwin) #13

Maybe a question about the community you manage. “Tell us a bit about the community you manage” or “Tell us about your community in 1 sentence” or “use 3 words to describe the community you manage”

(purldator) #14

I thought the question “what are you working on?” was (and still is) pretty brilliant.

I think most new members come in to work on their skills as a community manager. That is what they are working on. So, they may feel the question is redundant.

“I…I want to learn more about community management. That’s why I came here. That is…what I am working on. Do you want to know about projects not related to community management? I am also planning and constructing a new deck to add onto my patio out back.”

(I am always sardonic; it helps to get the point across. *chuckle*)

I also feel a correlation to the discussion about a need for more casual tones in this community’s atmosphere.

"Wait, wait! I came here to learn that! I don’t feel comfortable explaining my lack of knowledge, here. And in the very first post I make.

Why not retool the original question? Make it feel more open and casual. Let it be known that any kind of project one may be working on is not irrelevant; it is welcome.

“I am working on plans to build a deck for my patio.”

Then, perhaps a reply to the newcomer.

“I can’t fathom even just drafting the plans. Is this a new endeavor or have you done this before?”

That opens up a lot of options for the newcomer to reply to.

“I love drafting and doing DIY projects most would pay a fortune just to hire others for the job, and for materials. I want to make a community for others to support these kinds of projects and show alternative budget ideas they can do themselves, or help others discover inexpensive material ideas that work just as great–if not better–than the traditional (and most expensive) materials. A lot can’t fathom it, but it can be done!”

Eventually it tangents back to community, I would think. At least in this staged scenario. *grin* Hit 'em in the passion feels. I doubt anyone would talk about something they loathe and base it as an answer to what they are working on, while also designating it their first post in a new community.

From experience with traditional introduction topics, I understand most do not want to describe themselves, unless they are forced to when wanting to apply for a new position. They may want the community and each individual member to make up their own opinions sans the job interview sweats. A good way to do that is to show oneself in action, as they are. A roundabout question like “what are you working on?” tailored to be more lax and casual does just that.

(Sarah Hawk) #15

I suspect that you’re right about the tone aspect, and rewording is likely a good approach, in a similar vein to what @Mjbill suggests.

I’m going to tweak the question, add in the ‘how did you find us’ and break up the topic more frequently so it doesn’t reach such monumental lengths and see what happens.

(Sarah Hawk) #16

Alright, we’re giving this one a shot.

In some ways this goes against what I’d usually recommend. ‘Introduce yourself’ posts tend to fill up with fairly low quality content, but I’m going to give it a go and see what happens, because the current engagement rate on the ‘What are you working on’ thread isn’t great.

What I hope we can do as a community is tease interesting topics out of newcomers and split them out into separate threads.

I think it will benefit us all if we work together on that.

(Pauline Wilson) #17

As a newcomer in here I really liked the “What are you working on?” for an introductory post. It immediately gave me something more to say than just Hello and I am from… However I can see the benefit of keeping it very simple and I especially like your idea of teasing out interesting topics and splitting them out into separate threads
I must say I have found it a bit difficult to find another discussion that was relevant for me. I am fairly inexperienced as a community manager and not in the type of corporate/marketing communities that seems to be common in most discussions.
But I probably need to spend a bit more time finding what I need.
Anyway just wanted to give you a newbie perspective.

(Nick Emmett) #18

Hi @paulinemareewilson, this is an interesting point:

Perhaps we can help with working out how we can collaborate…
If I remember correctly, you were setting a community for elearning providers when you posted in March, how’s that going? What do you perceive to be your community’s WHY? Why would people come to it and what are you expecting them to be engaging about in particular? @Shauna_Farey posted recently and also works in an adult learning environment, perhaps some notes to swap?

(Sarah Hawk) #19

That is incredibly valuable and I appreciate your candor.

Ok, hearing you. I have two questions, if that’s ok.

Firstly, what kinds of discussions would you find relevant or valuable? As Nick mentions, we have a number of people that manage your type of community, so it’s likely that they are also feeling a similar disconnect, and I’d love to address that with content that would be valuable.

Secondly, you’re still here and posting regardless – what is your motivation for doing so?

(Pauline Wilson) #20

Hi Nick. Thanks for responding. We have not moved very far on our new communist yet because I am very conscious of the need to do a lot of research to find out what makes a community work. We have tried a few in house ideas and have had a lot of trouble with engagement and I am determined to make this project successful. @Shauna_Farey is actually working with me on this same project.