One of the first problems that Ning creators run into when they start getting serious about their community is sending a welcome email to every new member that joins. Somewhere along the line they start to get the feeling that someone out there has to have figured out a way to automate this process as it is the most time consuming aspect of daily community management. In fact, back in 2007, it was the very reason why i came to this forum. Today I am coming to you as that person who has figured out an automated solution.
The Short Version
Step 1: Create a responsive web page containing the content that you would usually include inside a welcome email to a new member. Give directional advise regarding where to go to do what. Do not include a lot of images (and you'll see why).
Step 2: Install language translation into this page, so that it can be read by anyone. Images containing text cannot be read by everyone. Install it at the top.
Step 3: Create a new page by going to yournetwork.com/pages and click Add New. This page will be a Members Only Access Page
Step 4: Upload the page you made to your server (or public dropbox public folder) and get the URL. Preferably a place where you can simply update at will and the page you created will show live when you refresh the page on the network.
Step 5: Iframe that page into the page you just created, Name that page you added Getting Started or similar and set it to Full Width (hide sidebar). More in the Long Version
Step 6: Go to language editor and after choosing language, search for the following
Welcome to %2$s! There are %1$s simple things you can do to get started:
and replace the words only with something more well, welcoming and provide the link to the page you just made. NEVER replace anything with %$ or similar.
Step 7: Enjoy the ability to edit a welcome message at will and when is automatically sent to a member once they are approved.
NOTE: my welcome message is for my members-only, so i am providing a longer more explained version over the next couple of days to help those who do not have 5 years to wait, like i did.
The Detailed Version Part One Step One
Create a responsive web page containing the content that you would usually include inside a welcome email to a new member.
A well designed single web page will be a responsive one. A responsive layout is one that adjusts its own dimensions depending on the device that the user is using. So with that said, your web page could just as easily be made into an HTML page on your network's mobile version. The content should be purposeful and guiding, written from the point of view that you bring to the community, as the creator. It should explain the mission of their new community and invite them to weigh in throughout your network by creating the links that lead to where you want them to go and briefly explain the purpose of each area of the site. Keep it simple, to the point and and don't go overboard.
For example, here is one of the paragraphs from my GS guide.
From there, head over to either our +Curate or Explore page and find topics, meet other professionals and/or upload some of your own content to the network, such as photos and videos. Every member will also join a unique combination of group forums based on their location, types of equipment they use and the type of surveying they are familiar with. Run a quick search here and join the groups which apply to you. When starting discussions, try to remember to post in the group forum which best applies to your question in order to get the most replies. If you are looking for inspiration on a topic to write about, check out our Land Surveying A to Z page and pick one, or suggest a term to be added.
Its getting late here so i will follow up with Steps 2-4 over the next couple of days and beginning of next week.
Be patient with it and don't try to do all of this in one night. Remember that the point of this is to give you a welcome message combined with a Getting Started Guide that you can update whenever you see fit, so as your network changes, so too will your message.
If you happen to be in search of freelance development or expertise, i can be hired.
I just finished my hack on this today. Now what I did is different in that I just modified and added to the standard e-mail. It might be an easier approach in some respects, but I also think I had to be clever to pull it off and make it work as a professional first impression.
I'm directing people to the top navigation links on my site, and a couple of those include Pages with additional getting started type info. The only thing I wasn't sure I could do, and might try if I knew how, would be to create the actual links within text. I don't like the complete strands, but I'm rather new to the Language Editor, and just saying which option to choose gets the job done. I supported this with a link to the site. Also, at the end, I mention it is an automatically generated welcome message (do-not-reply), and I offer them my direct e-mail should they need further assistance getting started.
Pretty excited to learn how you do it. One of the real trade-offs I had to face is the very rudimentary text format in the message. I imagine this must be a built in limitation of Ning's generator and it could also be a standard that is gauranteed to work where some users might not have fonts etc. To an extent, the less people have to see in this format the better. So I can see that sending people a link to a fully customized welcome message could be a lot better.
I think what I've got is going to work for me, but what you are doing here is probably what I'd recommend to my business clients should they want to build a Ning. Since I'm not a Ning developer myself, you would definately be my first pick to refer business to. Top shelf work, and we're pretty lucky here on Ning Creators to get samples of your expertise like this.
thanks bud! gonna try to get part two-four put together tonight
is everybody who has tried this able to get it working?