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Six Community Spring Cleaning Tips

Written by Heather McNair on April 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Spring has sprung (although you wouldn't know it by frigid temperatures and snow covered lawns). For me, there are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean. It is an opportunity to open the windows, let some fresh air in, and rid ourselves of those dust bunnies. Before you wrap up your spring cleaning, don't forget to spring clean your online community.

Six Keys to Sprucing up Your Community

  1. Revitalize your content: The spring is a great time to take a fresh look at your community. Schedule time to go through every element of your site and ask yourself: "Can this be improved?"
    • Check the layout of the navigation. Is it intuitive?
    • Invite some of your community members to a card sorting exercise to ensure they see things the way you do and your site is as user-friendly as you'd like it to be. Are you highlighting less relevant content (old events, etc.)? Ensure you remove references to content which no longer provides value
    • Ensure your copyright notice uses the current year
    • Refresh your home page slides or other website imagery and content which may be a little stale
  2. Review your social strategy:
    • Create or review your community success goals and ensure you are tracking the correct metrics to measure them
    • Evaluate past goals and look at your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to determine how your community performed
    • Look at individual communities to see how they performed
    • Identify the traits from the more successful communities to see if there are lessons which can be applied to the less successful communities
    • Cross reference your community marketing plan with your organizational strategic plan and/or mission statement to ensure they are in alignment
    • Ask for feedback from other departments in your organization on how the site could better serve members and help staff with their jobs
  3. Check your links: While you're going through your site checking content, also look at the links on your site.
    • Do your primary links still work? (from your main site to your community site, etc.) Are they all going where they're supposed to or are there broken links sending your members to 404 (page not found) pages?
    • Consider coming up with a fun or friendly 404 page to better assist your members when they do come across a broken link
    • Consider using Google's webmaster tools to help identify broken links (including high profile inbound links which may need a permanent redirect added)
  4. Look at site statistics: Are you running analytics on your site? If not, sign up for Google Analytics.
    • If you are, go through and figure out what were your most successful content pieces this year
    • Or on the flip side, what pages on your site see the lowest click-through rate?
    • Make changes to the site's layout to reflect your findings to create the best user experience
    • Publicly accessible pages make for great content (inbound) marketing tools, and search engines love user-generated content. Check the number of publicly indexed pages by searching Google using the syntax: site:www.higherlogic.com. Record the result so you can periodically check if it's trending up
  5. Perform a community blitz. Review each community's activity to determine if action or an intervention is needed. We typically recommend doing this every quarter. Typical things to look for include:
    • Date of last posting. How many messages have been posted within the last quarter?
    • How many messages have not been responded to? Most discussion messages should have a response because people won't post again if their questions go unanswered. If many have not been responded to, a plan to ensure they are answered might be required
    • How many unique contributors are there? (It's important that the community have a wide variety of contributors to promote a divesrse set of opinions)
    • Prioritize which community(ies) you are going to focus your efforts on. Don't try to do an intervention on too many communities at the same time; don't underestimate how much time it will take to re-launch a community (if that's what it takes)
    • Check your community permissions to make sure they can be accessed by the right audience
  6. Leverage Gamification. Reward your champions.
    • Update your ribbons and badges
    • Recognize your community champions in your traditional media (magazine, newsletter, etc.)
    • Don't forget to recognize your community administrators
    • Refresh your training materials and best practice guides
    • Highlight the best performing communities
    • Create an infographic to showcase your success to your board, members and others. People love to see how much they've actually accomplished!

Topics: Online Community Management, Engagement, Marketing, Social Media

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