An online community can be as simple as a small message board attached to a website or it can be very large networking community such as My Space. Any technology that allows people to communicate with each other and share information, ideas, and content can be made into an online community. If you are thinking about adding some type of online community to your website or starting your own freestanding community, there are a few things you should know in order to be successful.
You will need to give people a reason to join your community if you want to attract users. Depending on the purpose of your community this can be achieved by giving your community useful information that will be of interest to your community’s target audience or you can offer giveaways, contests, or other bonuses. Providing an aspect of fun through contests and such or giving valuable information are some of the best ways to attract new users to your community and to keep old ones coming back.
You can also offer an ezine or other type of mailing that is for members only. If you include important and relevant information that interests your audience, this alone will be a reason for people to join and will remind them to participate in your community every time they receive your mailing.
You will also want to make it known to visitors to your website that there are benefits to joining your online community. Tell visitors why they should join and what benefits there are for them. You should also keep a close eye on your community and participate regularly. Make sure you either have a moderator or remove any spam or offensive posts regularly yourself. Keep your community a place that is easy to enjoy without the distractions that can drive users away.
Try to keep ads to a minimum, or better yet don’t have any ads at all. A clean looking interface that is not littered with commercial promotions is the most attractive to users. If you do have a few well placed ads, make sure they are targeted to your audience and relevant to your site so they at least offer some usefulness to users and they will make you the most profit.
If you design your online community to be attractive and easy to use you will have much easier time attracting users. Likewise, the more relevant content and fun promotions you have in connection with your community the more su