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By Richard Millington

If you could increase the number of members initiating discussions, the level of activity and engagement would rise sharply. 

The percentage of members who initiate discussions is usually small. This limits activity and the level of engagement members have in the community.

Members need both the motivation to initiate and to overcome their fear of starting a discussion. Their motivation to initiate will be to either learn something (e.g. "Does anyone know how to....?"), to impress others (e.g. "does anyone else think business class travel isn't as great as it used to be?") or to bond with others (e.g. "I'm upset Kelly got fired from the Apprentice").

Motivation comes relatively easy in active communities. It's social anxiety which prevents most members from initiating discussions. This social anxiety comes in three forms:

  1. I might ask a dumb question or make a dumb statement.
  2. My comment won’t receive any reply and I will appear unpopular.
  3. I might be criticised by members of the community.

A community can overcome much of this anxiety in a few simple steps...

(Read More at the Ning Blog)

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Comments

  • Thank you Jaime I have started doing so I added a welcome page but with the new set up must revise it have to make it more detailed with links quick links and different objectives and rules i would like them to follow here is what I have so far http://unsignedblast.com/welcome-center
  • The hardest part with Ning is that it is hard for newcomers to understand how things work...normal social media patterns of point, click, share are not there.
  • Is it set this way on ALL blogs on 3.0, or just on this particular blog?
  • Hmmm just noticing this as well, Jamie... not only can we not add LINKS in our comments, but we can't do any QUOTING, nor use italics/bold/underline, nor embed images, or videos, etc... We could do all that in 2.0 when commenting on blogs.
    The lack of quoting and links is particularly confining when making comments. Um, the irony here is that this blog post is all about encouraging member discussion and participation...! =8-*

    :(
  • Crystal writes: Motivation comes relatively easy in active communities. It's social anxiety which prevents most members from initiating discussions. This social anxiety comes in three forms:
    I might ask a dumb question or make a dumb statement.
    My comment won’t receive any reply and I will appear unpopular.
    I might be criticised by members of the community.
    --------------------------------------------
    Crystal, I find there is a fourth 'social anxiety' that I observe very often- the fear of posting a question or discussion 'in the wrong place'. I find this to be a biggie, especially for new members with limited online experience. This particular problem can be lessened by:
    A) creating very clearly designated/labeled areas on your network and including forum or group titles such (for my music network for example) as "Tune of the Week", "Share your gig experiences!", or "Collectors Corner". And B) by providing a clearly marked forum or group specifically for new members or beginners. I have a group titled "Beginner Players" which is where many of my new members go first automatically. There they know they need not fear 'posting in the wrong place'. I also have a 'featured' forum titled "Ask the Moderators!"...where members can ask about site settings they don't understand. It helps a lot! :)
  • I have little to know activity on my site and really thinking about quitting, it's hard to get activity when a lot of people are oblivious to how the site works so now i'm looking into more detailed instructions on how to do different things and short videos things like that. Hopefully it works thank you for the tip.
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