Finding new members is one of the most crucial components to growing and cultivating a vibrant community. There is enormous value in taking the time to look for and actively recruit people who have interests that are relevant to your community topic. Here’s a how-to guide to grow your community.
1) Start with Members on Lunch – Conduct a keyword search or sift through tags that are related to your community topic. Once you find people who have a rated or reviewed topics relevant to your community, reach out to them with a personal invitation. Encourage them to join the community, explore and comment on reviews, rate topics, and add their reviews.
In addition, find new members outside of Lunch. New people, with new curiosity for Lunch can help grow your community and generate even more excitement. There are couple ways to reach out:
2) Invite your friends, family and colleagues – You can do this be simply using the invite button within your community or sending them an email. One obstacle I’ve heard is that often people are skeptical about joining “yet another social networking” site. An important point to share with those people is that Lunch is actually not a social networking site, but a social media site that's designed to allow people to share and discover helpful information that can be useful in daily life and decision making. You can discuss the Similarity Network and the unique opportunity for people to read reviews that are relevant to their interests.
In addition, asking your friends or loyal followers (if you have a blog or website) to help you out by commenting on one of your Lunch reviews is an easy way to start the interaction process. Most people who are interested in your content are going to want to help out any way they can. This is a simple request that starts the engagement process in your community, but doesn't require a huge commitment.
It’s also important to customize your invitation to the interests of the person you’re asking to join. A personal invitation is much more likely to garner a response. For example, I recently asked one of my friends to join the Unique Hotels community. I know she is having her bachelorette party in Vegas so I specifically linked her to Vegas hotel reviews to spark her curiosity and interest. Customization is key!
3) Use Twitter – Creating a customized Twitter account for your community is a great way to advertise your content and promote awareness of your community. (Check out mine as an example: HotelonLunch). It’s also a great way to target people who are talking about the topics featured in your community.
Tweetdeck is a Twitter tool that will allow you to search the Twitter universe for all content related to your topic. You can then message people and businesses individually encouraging them to check out a review that they might enjoy. Linking them to a review of a topic they are discussing on Twitter may spark their curiosity. In the case of businesses, most PR people want to know what is being said about their company, services or offerings. If the review is positive you likely get a response or at least a retweet of your posting, which will in turn advertise your community to their network of people.
4) Scout on Facebook – Create your own community Facebook page. Invite your friends, family and Lunch members to join. Post reviews from your community on your page. Ask friends and family to “like” the post, which will increase its visibility in the Facebook feed. A best practice is to message members on Lunch if you’ve posted their review on Facebook. Everyone likes to know that their review was well written, valuable and enjoyable enough to share with others! (You can check out Unique Hotels on Facebook as an example).
In addition, search for other pages and groups related to your community topic. Leave a message on these pages with a link to a review that members might be interested in. Reach out to individuals who seem to be active in a particular group. You can say something like:
Hey, I see you’ve traveled to Prague. I just started a community on Unique Hotels and there’s a great review of the Golden Well Hotel you might enjoy. Have you ever stayed there? Check it out if you have the chance!
5) Explore Other Communities/Sites – There are so many communities and websites out there on every topic under the sun. Find ones that relate to your community and explore them! Spend time reading reviews, learn who is contributing and who might be interested in what your Lunch community has to offer.
It’s often the case that reviewers are looking for new places to post and interact. In many of the larger communities most reviews can go unnoticed – with no compliments and no comments. Sending those targeted reviewers a message complimenting their reviews, asking a question, sharing information on your community (include a link) and asking them to check it out, can be very flattering. From my experience, many people are surprised to have someone respond to their review and are happy to know that someone is actually reading. This creates a positive opportunity for interaction and introduction to your Lunch community. I’ll often ask a reviewer to join my community and try posting one of their reviews, just to get a feel for the site. Because Lunch is such an interactive place to post, most reviewers find the compliments and review feedback encouraging and fun.
6) Blogs and Websites – Again search out websites and blogs that are related to your community topic. If the site and contributor fit well with the mission of your community, reach out to them! Send them an email explaining the new community you’ve created and how you think they would be a great contributor. In the end, many blog and website founders are interested in driving traffic back to their site – emphasize that Lunch is another growing community that can help them with this.
Finding new members, is always a work in progress, but it can feel very rewarding when new people join and contribute. As I'm still developing new ways to reach out to people, I'd love to hear your best practices. What's working for you? In addition, remember that once you’ve found new members and they’ve joined your community, it’s then time to help them find their way around and keep them engaged. Check out @PattyP’s review for some great ideas!