I was wondering…What do you do to facilitate introductions on your Ning Network?
Actually, this is kind of a loaded question. Ning Creators is in itself a Ning Network, but most members seem to go without introduction. We do have a volunteer Greet Team group, and I sometimes take the time to drop people a comment to welcome them. One of the first places I usually encounter new network creators is on the “Critique my site” forum category, but members usually just post a link, and I usually try to stay on point with offering some insight on their site. It’s not really a comprehensive introduction.
FYI, your Ning Creators profile answer to “What is your Ning network?” is locked for privacy by default. This will be good news to those of you pursuing a white label approach to presenting your network, especially since this community is public for any casual internet surfer to discover. You may not realize the question is hidden though, since when you are logged in you can see it on your profile. Alternatively, you can add your Ning’s address to the “Other web sites or Twitter address” profile question.
Certainly affording new members the courtesy of a welcome is encouraged. By default, you see that “Welcome them” message in the latest activity feed after they join. There’s also friending which I think is what most users more familiar with Facebook would expect before engagement. This can be a problem too as sometimes people feel bombarded by comments and are disappointed by the lack of any direct substance relating to them specifically. Commenting is a more direct one to one approach I think is useful for getting the ball rolling. However, it’s not positioned as much in front of the community as a forum post.
There are a lot of dynamics at play. For instance, some people are more oriented on your site’s theme and not really there for self promotion. Other people may be networking as part of a formally organized social media campaign and are looking for an opportunity to present themselves along the lines of a press release. How you define your site, the concept of engagement, and your policies for participation all go a long way toward influencing the behavior you want. The success of your network also has a lot to do with how well you cater to the wants and preferences of your target membership. It depends on what you are aiming for. Some people looking for quantitative growth may not even take the time to greet people nor encourage them to introduce themselves. Others may depend entirely on their member’s feeling embraced by the community and met with professional personalized service.
In the past, I have created a welcome center group and invited new members to orient to the community there. That’s a good place for a call to action discussion “Introduce Yourself” as you can see on my Ning Creators group if you want to check it out-http://creators.ning.com/group/a-social-media-dojo/forum/topics/int.... You can kill a few birds with one stone. There’s room to introduce yourself, your business or site, and how to use it. People are inclined to discover others introducing themselves, perhaps commenting on a central discussion or creating their own. By organizing in such a way you can also keep the integrity of the rest of your site for whatever functional purpose you have designed without it becoming all about meet and greet.
Noting Ning Creators Community Guidelines, “self promoters are demoted”, we can talk about Ning creating and networking without too much worry of unwanted solicitation. However, the shortfall of this may be thousands of members with no idea of what to do. You create a social network and you want to tell people about it and talk about it. Now my Ning Creators group can help serve that purpose, but it is driven by me and my philosophies on social media. Someone else might create a more dedicated group for introductions, but what I am doing is encouraging people to improve how they present & deliver their concepts, and providing intelligent responsiveness to the effort. I personally wouldn’t enjoy it if people just joined to drop a line or pitch and then left it at that. The demand may be there though. I could see enjoying the opportunity, checking out other sites, and not being obliged toward extra-curricular agenda.
I currently address this very differently on my own site (a BETA pre-release without members FYI). I usually meet people on other social platforms, through direct e-mail, and have a comprehensive dialogue before I would even consider them joining my community. In fact, my target members being real businesses are often too busy to participate in an open social community, so I take great care in discussing with them how my environment can support a social media campaign according to their needs and preferences. One of the dynamics I’ve noted in studying social networking for so long is the surprising degree of animosity. It almost doesn’t matter what you do because everyone is different, comes in with varied expectations, and often don’t have a grasp of how to best present themselves. I see it all the time when someone makes an effort and is not rewarded for it. So establishing a direct line of contact offsite mitigates the effect, removes the animosity of initial introductions, and allows me to walk people through every step of the way.
You put a bunch of people together in a physical place and the natural phenomena of networking is likely to occur. Put them all together on a social network and you are just as likely to come up crickets! Watch this, lol! So Ning Creators- What do you do to facilitate introductions on your network?
That's very good Damion, thanks for sharing. I think that it's virtually critical for people to get welcomed by the network creator. I've done this as a protocol on previous networks I ran and had mixed responses. Sometimes I've been disappointed the courtesy wasn't returned and I've also hoped that people would pay it forward and extend the same courtesy to others. I've tried different angles from casual greeting, inquiry, and informative. How about you...what do you have in mind when you do it, what do you think about how people respond, what's your approach???
I run a network for people with HIV/AIDS. I have a forum category called Introductions and When I welcome every new member I encourage them to go there and introduce themselves. It works great!!
That's really good Robert, thank you for sharing too. This is the approach I have set up for my network too after a lot of trial and error. Right now I network with my target market offsite and the network while be released in phases once I have the businesses onboard. From there, though, I don't expect to be able to network as closely with everyone. So my plan is that new users will get a personal contact, and then be directed to a featured discussion laid out as "Welcome to ..."
I like how you are encouraging people to introduce themselves, especially given your theme serves people affected by a social stigma. I can see how that very specifically is part of your value proposition. Do you find other members greeting on profiles too? Using a discussion category, do you define how people should introduce themselves or just keep it simple and open ended? Also, do you find people post and it just stands, or do others in the community join in together on the discussions?
my members introducing themselves in their profile question : 'about you', and then other people welcomes them when they join, because they see 'welcome them', there is no need for extra forum for that
Good point HELP SEEKER,
standing by those options should keep it clean and simple- which I aim for.
Personally, I want my network to showcase more profile customization. So basically not just what is presented but how. I think the profile questions get in the way of a seamless appearance that might include more graphic, text, video, etc. However, I'm compelled to direct people toward this, and if I don't they may not have an idea of what to do. Your approach is a more automatic way to facilitate introductions. Quite interesting.
i have a special moderator who does nothing but welcome members every evening. i also have a forum category called Introduce Yourself which gets a lot of action...
Very interesting... I want to do this too. In my earliest BETA project, I actually created a profile called Member Services. I made it out to be a virtual assistant similar to a virtual conference experience I once saw done by AMD. I'll see if I can find a video example, because it represents the kind of high-end online experience I think you can expect in the future.
There's no substitute for a real person, of course, and this is something I've thought about for a long time. Obviously it depends on the nature of your concept. I have seen a lot of Ning networks do well with volunteer admin staff. What I want to do is actually hire a professional that will specialize in it. in the beginning, it's something I expect to do on my own- an extension of my personal service philosophy. However, having a professional dedicated to this is so important to my business model.
I used to work at a company that was just one of thousands. It ended up outclassing everyone of its contemporaries in a bid for acquisition by one of the country's largest corporations. One of the primary reasons actually had to do with the CEO bringing in JDPower and Associates- a nationally recognized third party customer satisfaction rating service. Instead of driving the business from a top-down perspective, he looked at the objective measures of customer satisfaction people were walking away with. From a metrics standpoint, we were consistently in the high 80% satisfaction rate which implied generally above average. However, by restructuring the business around those measures, we took it to a consistent 98% meaning nobody else in the industry even came close.
The biggest notable difference? We took out our front lobby receptionist and instead put in place a "concierge". Essentially, we quite literally rolled out the red carpet for our customers. When they visitted, they were specifically attended to by someone who's sole focus was to ensure they had a positive experience. They were offered refreshments, catering, entertainment of choice, conversation, given a personal tour, and all this before they even met with someone actually providing the service our company was about.
Ahh...found it. So the video gives you some impression of the experience I want to create for my community- but using a Ning network. This was an actual virtual event years ago, and I had the good fortune of actually experiencing the interface. Since then I think they took it down, but when I entered I remember the first thing you encountered was a sort of virtual service person. She welcomed you and helped you sort through the various options & whatever it was you were there for from setting up your business in one of the virtual tradeshow type kiosks, exploring the other companies showcased, or attending one of the keynote speaker presentations.