How to inspire visitors to make the first post?

We have implemented single sign on for our new community and added a deep link inside one of our courses (we sell training) directly into a topic in the Discourse.

A bunch of people “signed up” for Discourse (basically they don’t have to do anything) but nobody has done anything when they come to the page.

How can I increase participation?

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What benefit is there to your users in using your community? Have you created starter topics to encourage participation?

Starting communities is rarely a case of “if you build it, they will come”, you need to give people a genuine incentive to post or reply. It’s a lot of work and requires constant nurturing in the early weeks and months.

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I recommend our two blog posts on this, they have lots of recommendations:

Asking people to create new topics can be difficult. It’s easier to have a bunch of starter topics that are easy to reply to. Your team should be spending time in there daily, replying and posting as you’d like others to – make it a normal part of your daily routine, and be the change you want to see!

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One specific friction we see is the popup “your first notification, click it to begin”. (Step 3 below).

We have 150+ visitors that signed up an account. But only 15 people viewed the topic that I directly linked to. (These stats are from /g for user count and / for topic views.)

I think this means 90% of people see that highlight thing and they immediately close the page.

In the meantime, I will work on a second engaging topic.

At this point I don’t expect anybody to post their own topics. I am just hoping for one person to reply to the topic that I link them to.


Following is the full experience for our students from reading our course to seeing the topic.

You could try disabling the CSS for it, but remember the goal there is to get the user to click on one specific area of the screen that is highlighted, versus

here’s a giant page full of stuff, what do you want to do next?

My strong suspicion is that removing the highlight won’t meaningfully change that 90% number, because you’ve replaced a guided “focus on this one thing” step with a completely freeform “look at all the new things on the page you can possibly interact with” step.

If you can’t get the user to do one simple focused action… I don’t think they will take any action.

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Hi,
I’m also wondering about this.
I’ve seen new users who took time to fill their profiles (custom fields and even avatars) but won’t post anything and, often, won’t get back on the forum.
This is the case on any forum, but I’d like to improve this and tell them that the place is warm and friendly :slight_smile:

Actually, we have 1 sticky topic, (visible to anyone who hasn’t read it, so new visitors as well as new accounts), which explain what is the forum about, who is welcomed, what you’ll find here and also give bits of info about our associated WordPress website.

We also have a subcategory dedicated to people’s self-introduction. This is a subcategory of our “general” category.

The problem is that being a subcategory, it is not visible in our category selector until we click on “Autour d’une roue”, which is our general category… Not sure this is the best practice to name our general category “around a wheel” but it has been the historical name of the general category of your unicycling forum for almost 20 years… :sweat_smile:

Nothing here!
image

Here it is!
image

So, unless they created their account for the purpose of creating a specific topic they had in mind, new people have no incentives to post their first topic.

So I think I’ll do the following:

  1. Shorten the pinned topic which is long and boring. Remove all the unnecessary information. Keep it short and simple.
  2. Move the self-introductions subcategory out of our general category and make it a category of its own to make it more visible.
  3. Either focus the current pinned topic on encouraging people to present themselves, either (tell me if it is possible) sending an automatic private message to newly created accounts to encourage them to present themselves.

Also, is there any way to, sort of, “features” the self-introduction category for newly created accounts? For example, having a box on top of the forum home page with a big link to this category or something like this that would say here until the user closes the box or create a topic in this category?

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That would be a great start, and globally pin it as well. As soon as a new member signs up, this would be the first category he/she sees after completing the other sign-up fields. Having it globally pinned should keep it visible at the top of the category list (as in Latest) until either the user goes to that category and introduces himself/herself, or goes to that category and reads what others have posted. However, it would hurt to ask - in the description box for this category - for the new member to introduce himself/herself and tell a little about themselves.
Not everyone will do this as some people like to “keep things private” and at first are shy about talking about themselves.
Now you have me thinking… maybe I should go through my users and see if there are any that never filled out their biographies.

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I’d back up a bit here and ask what it is that you’re actually wanting to achieve. What is the purpose of the self introduction section? In my experience those categories generally won’t lead to people making other posts and they aren’t particularly useful because no one else really reads them. They’re definitely good for one thing – artificially boosting engagement statistics – but what use is that if it’s not sustainable?

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Maybe because my forum is small, our members do actually read everyone’s bios. Several are into photography and they eventually created a topic just for that. Another is into sailing and many conversations have and still are made about that and even boat repairs. We have a couple who are into geology (one a USGS geologist) and there’s two topics pertaining to that. Maybe our forum has a different member makeup, but members filling out their bios works wonders for us… making everyone feel a little “closer” to one another. It “breaks the ice” as a conversation starter.

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That’s refreshing to hear and in your case I’m glad I’m wrong!
But yeah, I think you’re in the minority here.

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What you’ve described sounds great!..but I do believe that it’s because (as you say) your community is small.

Also, is your community publicly visible?
Invite only?
Known to each other IRL?

Many folks are hesistant to put too many details for just anyone to find, especially if they post elsewhere under the same avatar/persona.

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This forum is private, but we all came from a public forum where just about everyone had completed their profile. The original forum was international, public and actually had people who were out to assist others. Maybe that was the major difference. No one knows anyone IRL, but one member did visit another one when he was in the other’s area. Aside from that, we’re spread all over the globe.

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@JimPas explained well his opinion and I agree with all he said since I’m in quite the same context here. Just replace photography or boats with unicycling. :smile:

Sure, if a user introduces themselves that doesn’t mean they will stick to the forum, but I feel that’s like a start. People in my forum, for the most part, read and reply to introductions cheerfully.

Also, thank you jim for the pinned category idea. I previously looked at a setting like this, but I couldn’t find any. Can you tell me how to do that?

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Sorry about the delay. Go to the categories first post (the description post if you will), click on the wrench at the top of the time slider to the right. At the menu that appears, click on “Pin Topic” (this shows “Unpin Topic” on mine because it’s already pinned).
image

When you click Pin Topic, you’ll be presented with another menu as seen below. You have a choice of pinning the topic or pinning it as Banner Topic which will appear at the top of all pages. I think the latter is what you’re looking for.

image

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I’m a little late on my answer, but maybe it will be useful for someone.

Firstly, I absolutely agree with this. If you want to increase the activity of your subscribers, you should think about their motivation: why does the members create posts and answers on your community? What benefit will they receive from the time taken to answer? Further, and importantly, you should add constantly some new content and news to your community to increase the interest of your visitors.

Also I could recommend to launch some email campaigns for your subscribers talking about all your community updates, new threads, topics, offers etc. I used to develop my community too and the newsletter mailing technique helped me a lot.

Here is a good article talking about basic principles of successful email campaign:

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The statistics I can vouch for as I’ve seen the introductions area be the only area with a pulse at times,

that’s what it is good for, and I do believe it helps builds community, " Hi my name is and I like kittens" provides a good catalyst for fellow feline enthusiasts to solicit photos and start a conversation

I’d say without a strong source of visitors it is valuable, from that experience do recommend and continue to implement it

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The Introductions page is a great place to have people get started… and suggest that they also read everyone else’s introductions. We’ve had people tell us they are ham operators, divers, worked in search & rescue, are geologists, nurses, do a lot of sailing, are avid photographers, design websites, and are into computers and peripherals, etc… We ended up having topics in each of these and these topics are very active. We also have a topic Random Thoughts where anything and everything is brought up. A particular subject will be discussed for some time, then it moves onto another subject. All of this wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for people’s introductions.

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Going back to the original Forum where Jim and I were, and the Forum now, neither forum was “This is the only thing this Forum does”.

Introduce a little FUN, no matter how serious your forum is meant to be.

Make room for everyone to share their knowledge about something. People ARE shy, but will also be a leader in their own fields.

You need to SEED topics. Like wild flowers or grasses, not every topic takes hold, but if you tickle someone’s humor bone or knowledge bone, the seed will sprout and grow.

A RANDOM Thoughts thread often leads to topics that can be split and stand alone.

Be there… even if you don’t do things ‘right’ all the time. Be human.

Make some ordinary topics, and label them into Chunks… 2019 Jan to March A Topic (like Weather); 2019 April to June Weather… The weather is always a front porch topic that encourages everyone to share.

When you make starter topics, the first post should tell (you should tell) in one sentence what goes there.

Remember to Close older topics… like last Feb’s weather. Leave it to be read, but close it for replies.

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