Hooking your new members

Getting new members to actually visit your community is probably one of the first hurdles you need to get through as a Community Manager. A lot of members realise they would find value once they get there, but in the hectic, busy lives we all need, sometimes we need a nudge to remind us. So how can you provide these nudges? For me it all starts with getting them used to being nudged and giving them reason to actually click on a link and take them there.

I was very much influenced by Nir Eyal’s Hook model: essentially you have a trigger, either internal or external, which pushes people to your community, where they are rewarded with something of value, are enticed to look around, hopefully contribute something of their own and then return later to continue the loop.

I use this by trying to get triggers out to members whenever I can. External triggers are the best way to start thinking about this. An external trigger could be an email or a link on your corporate website etc. External triggers will hopefully lead to users developing associations attached to various thoughts and emotions and eventually become internally triggered to access your community.

An example: you have a new user who has been @mentioned in a post and receives a notification in their inbox. From there they click on the link to see the post and reply with a comment. Whilst there they have a look around and find value in several other posts, liking and commenting as they go through. These interactions lead to others commenting or liking which very likely creates another notification in the inbox, pulling the user back in to the community to continue the conversations. Over time this process leads to the new user associating a visit to the community with finding information out, probably in the form of tips, advice or help with specific issues. Thus when they encounter an issue themselves that they can’t figure out a solution for, they then remember what they’ve seen on your community, which results in them visiting and making their first proper post, a question. This leads (hopefully) to replies and likes, creating more notifications and the cycle continues. Each time strengthening the internal trigger until your community is a part of their daily routine and habits.

Here’s how I begin to use this for new members:

  • Welcome emails: each new member receives a welcome email from me, explaining what they will find in our community and where the likely value will be for them. I also tailor the email to point out specific groups that I feel would benefit them from a product perspective. These are linked back to the group, hopefully encouraging the user to click and follow the trigger into the community.
  • Follow them: the day after the welcome email I go in and follow them. This will create a notification in their inbox, hopefully tempting them to click and see a) who I am and b) what’s in there that may be of interest to them.
  • Welcome post: each Friday I post in our general group with a topic to discuss (loosely based around the week just gone and the one coming up) and in which I encourage other community members to welcome the new ones. I then @mention each new member, creating a notification in their inbox telling them they’ve been mentioned in a post. Hopefully this will lead to them clicking the link and visiting.

All of this takes place over the course of their first week and very often leads to people visiting and hopefully receiving their reward of value from at least one of the triggers they receive. You’re now ready for the next step – keeping them there and getting them to make their first post.
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