The answer to this question depends heavily on how long your community has been around, and how much it’s grown/how quickly new members join. As your community grows, it’s often difficult to balance the needs of existing members with those of new members. Here are some tips for addressing ALL members’ needs as you grow:
- A simple hi or welcome for new members goes a long way. If there’s a lack of that, people tend to notice. Include a welcome comment on their first posts in the community. Try using Meshfire to welcome new members, and send personalized welcome e-mails. Everyone remembers their first bad experience or if they feel alone in a community. It sticks around for a while, so avoid that.
- You can welcome people even before they find your community’s official platform. Search hashtags on Twitter and jump into conversations depending on your community’s purpose. Offer help to potential new members.
- Tag new members in a post and say “Hey everybody – welcome all of our new members!” Communities grow really fast, so having that post that welcomes new members is really important to remember. Try writing member spotlights, or adopting something like “Member Mondays” which highlights the best conversations of the week and welcomes new members just on that one day each week.
- When a new member posts a question or issue, we tag existing members to try to connect the new member with a solution within the community. Use Twitter to communicate quickly with existing and new members – it’s an easy way to keep everyone connected and new members will be impressed with your reply time.
Remember, early adopters may even jump on and welcome new community members for you. That’s really great – it speaks volumes about the value of your community. After a while, you start to feel a little resentment if you’re an existing community member, because all the attention is going to new people who have joined. How do you balance that communication between existing users and new users?
Maybe you add an extra person that deals specifically with new users, or shorten up the welcome. Don’t spend as much time as you used to, but still quickly say hello to new members. Those are a couple of ways to scale the welcome process as a community grows rapidly.
Sometimes it’s hard to trust an existing member to onboard a new member because they might be passing along outdated communication, so make sure you’re empowering specific existing members to help onboard. Make them excited to be a community advocate. Watch in wonder as the people who once called themselves “new members” become the welcome committee for NEW new members.