Ongoing growth is a sign of healthy communities. But it's not a question of luck or tactics. Working hard to make onboarding happen overlooks the fact that your members are, well, human.
After a while, I'm no longer new, I'm a long term member. My willingness to help, mentor, lead, and contribute to changes over time with my interests.
You need a unique strategy; after all, people are different than products – we have memory.
The most effective approach is also the most efficient. Building open doors into your community experience for new members to discover.
"Unlocking the secret to a thriving community isn't about grand entrances; it's about creating multiple small doors for members to discover and wander through."
Onboarding Is Not Easy
When it comes to welcoming folks into your community, you've got two tools in your kit - the personal touch and those automated "hey there" messages.
Both are technically good. But remember, we're talking about people here.
If you're only leaning on one, you're missing the boat on what really makes a community click.
The magic lies in the real, genuine conversations. Not some automated check-in or tired office party with recycled signage and stale snacks.
That's why I'm all about creating lots of little "doors" into your space. It's a 10x move, making everyone find their own comfy way to step in and really feel at home.
The Power of Small Doors
Imagine a community not as a fixed structure but as a sprawling campus dotted with inviting, unique entry points. Communities intrinsically have a dynamic nature; with some focus you can actually take advantage of it.
Good onboarding isn't just checking into a hotel room – it's making room for the diverse preferences of all your members.
These small doors are invitations to explore, engage, and contribute.
The doors represent opportunities for discovery and connection that resonate on a personal level with each member.
Strategies for Building Doors
Here are a few ways that you can factor open doors into your onboarding flow for new members.
Curated Notes and Q&A Spots: Create spaces where new members can pause to ask questions and engage with bite-sized content. What do folks need to know here, and if they want to learn more, where should they go?
Content Snacking: Offer small, digestible pieces of content that showcase the community's value. Finished work can intimidate new members as much as it inspires them. Small portions actually encourage deeper exploration based on a member's personal interests.
Member Tags: Use profile labels or tags to help members find others with similar interests or expertise. These are the digital nametags of your community.
Bite-Sized Introductions: Don't overwhelm new members with extensive information. Focus on creating compelling, accessible appetizers of what your community offers.
The Win-Win of Open Doors
The best part of the strategy is that it also helps long-term members.
When they're changing focus or picking up a new skill, they are going to be essentially new to your community in this aspect.
Open doors are a resource for members to branch out and add new skills, experiences, and connections to their experience.
The Final Word
Building a community with multiple entry points is a strategic approach that caters to the diverse ways people seek connection and belonging. Open doors invite exploration, enhance the member experience, and help to foster a more cohesive and vibrant community.