Building any type of website takes technical knowledge and when things aren’t going well most people are quick to jump on technology as the issue. If you are trying to create an online community whether it is a simple forum or an intricate social networking site, you may be tempted to blame the technologic aspect of your site if it is not as successful as you would like.
The truth is that all the HTML, CSS, Java, PHP, and scripting knowledge in the world will not make your online community successful if you do not focus on the driving force behind your community, the people.
The best way to make an online community successful is to give users a reason to join, and a reason to come back. Static websites, ones that only offer information not a way to interact, are great if you only want to inform your visitors, however, an effective community needs much more.
Adding features that promote interactivity such as forums, chat rooms, blogs, profiles, and ways to share information, pictures, and videos between users are some of the things you can do to help promote your online community.
You will also need to give your community a purpose, and this can be very targeted such as a small niche or very generalized such as meeting new people and communicating with friends. Generally small communities are more successful if they have a focused and targeted audience, say stamp collectors or other type of niche, but then again some of the largest online communities have no real purpose other than networking, meeting people, and connecting with friends.
Other ways to promote growth and membership in your online community is to allow members to submit content, have periodic contests, and to give prominent members moderator status or other special privileges. Giving members who post a lot or reach a certain number of posts a special title is a simple way to encourage members to be more active in the community. You may also want to provide a members only area for certain members that meet requirements which will also encourage more involvement in the community.
Allowing members to add to the community or website with their own content is also a good way to foster growth and make members feel at home. Holding contests is one of the best ways to generate interest as members will be eager to participate and if the prizes are of value it will also draw new members.
The most important thing to remember if you want to create a successful online community is to focus on what people want and give them things that will attract them and keep them coming back.