Community onboarding is a tricky area.
Most people do the same thing. They slap up a bunch of onboarding guides/videos and try to lay them out nicely for new members. Pretty uninspiring. I should know, I’m using this tactic myself at Learn.Community:
Whilst it seems logical to do this, I always wonder ‘does anyone watch these things?’. Personally as a member in other communities, I rarely do.
I’m busy, I don’t have time to sit through your carefully produced 6 onboarding videos telling me a bunch of stuff I likely already know (I get it, you want me to introduce myself!).
For me, a missing piece of community onboarding has always been ‘how do I get members closer to success, immediately after joining?’.
This is THE most powerful community onboarding strategy there is.
If you can give members an experience on day one that makes them think ‘Wow! This place is worth my time!’, then they’re significantly more likely to come back.
Here’s how I achieve this
We’ve always had a question in our application form (and now that we’re an open community, as part of our joining survey) that asks what the members definition of success is through being a member. I’ve also recently added a second question asking what the most pressing thing they need help with is.
Here’s a look at both:
Now, whenever a member joins, I DM them (typically within their first 24 hours) and try to move them closer to their definition of success.
They want to connect with like-minded members? I start making intros.
They want to improve their community engagement? I point them in the direction of our best workshops and content around engagement.
They’re feeling insecure and lost about their community’s lack of progress? I have an open, supportive chat with them on day one to try and help.
Whatever they need right now, and wherever they’re trying to get to, that becomes my entire focus once they’ve joined our community.
This shift has produced drastically better results than simply hoping new members exploring my wonderfully curated video sequence in the ‘start here’ section.
Sure, it’s more work, but first impressions count, especially in communities. If I can make a really great impression from day 1, I know they’ll be more likely to invest their time into the community and repeatedly turn to it for value.
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