We’ve been speaking quite a lot recently about how you can introduce things on your site that make it more interactive. These include things like adding a poll to your website, or adding a forum.
All these features are part of a website movement that the media have dubbed ‘Web 2.0′. In the original (Web 1.0!) vision of the Internet, websites were places where a 1-way process took place. A company would give out information about themselves, or a newspaper website would tell the news.
In web 2.0, the interaction between visitor and website is two-way. Not only does the website distribute information, but the website visitor also contributes to that information. The communication is two way between website and visitor. And the communication can also be between one website visitor and another.
One of the principles behind Web 2.0 is that if a website visitor contributes to and interacts with a website, then they are more likely to come back to that site later. It improves the ‘stickyness’ of the site. In addition, if a website visitor contributes to a website they are more likely to feel ‘part of it’, and will recommend it to others.
One of the great new features we introduced with our most recent update is the ability to create members to your website, and allow those members to add to and sometimes edit your site. This is another fantastic Web 2.0 feature.
Members have their own login that they have created by signing up and getting an account with your site. These members have a close relationship with your website, and are highly likely to both return to the site, and also recommend it to others. One of your main objectives should be to look after your members, so that they in turn will sing your website’s praises to other people.
In order to get members to your site, you need to give website visitors a good reason to sign up. This could be exclusive access to members-only pages on your site, pages that have unique and valuable information on them. You might want to grant them editing privileges for some pages, so that they can shape the content there. Additionally, it might be that they can join in on certain discussions. Another idea is that they can get a regular newsletter that gives them access to valuable new insight. Most importantly, you need to give them unique information, advice or ideas that they cannot get elsewhere.
Whatever you do, however, don’t force people to sign up: the last thing you want to do it alienate them.
Here are the four main rules to follow in order to grow your site membership:
1. Give your members access to unique content and information that they cannot get elsewhere
2. Give your members MORE than general website visitors e.g. members-only content, discounts or communities
3. Communicate with your members using newsletters, Facebook & Twitter…
4. Listen to what they say, and given them a forum for their feedback. This helps them feel valuable and valued..
Have any of you managed to create lots of members so far? What pitfalls or successes have you encountered? Leave us a comment below.