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  Community Promotion?
how do I promote my community?

Thank you for asking this important question!

There are two elements to promoting your community - promoting within your web site and promoting it beyond.

Promoting within your web site is crucial as you are reliant on the community feeling attached to and gaining from the site it "lives" on. So, use cross-linking to promote it in your site. Pull out interesting message board postings in your community and promote them on the top-level of your site, for example, or use chat event transcripts as a means to promote your chat events. Provide a means for your community staff and/or users to be promoted - perhaps highlighting them in a special profile section. Most importantly, if you value your community then it should be promoted as visibly as other sections of your site. Give it space on your home page and promote it with different text to show that it is dynamic and active. You should also cross-link in the other direction, from your site content to your community. An example of this would be to add a "Discuss this with others" link next to your featured content so as to allow movement from your site content to your community.

Promotion within your site is really a case understanding, highlighting and making use of paths of movement - your visitors' paths, information paths, and interest paths. Use those paths well and your community and site will have a good symbiosis.

To promote your community externally there are a number of methods, which are no different to promoting your site in general. Here are some brief pointers:

One of your best promotion tools remains word of mouth. Satisfied community participants often tell their friends, which will definitely encourage more traffic e.g. use "email this page to a friend" links to achieve this online.

Make sure that your community is listed properly with search engines and other community directories. Specifically submit your community sections as well as your site in general to the search engines. Ensuring that your site is on the major search engines is no guarantee but it will help!

If your site offers topical chats, there are numerous chat event calendars that will promote your topical chats for free. These calendars are a great way to reach many.

Look for ways of linking your community to other related communities or to related web sites in order to maximise traffic, and achieve a good standing with interested and quality participants.

If you can do so, newsletters and mailing lists also provide avenues to generate promotions, as they provide a means for further linking and for "viral" marketing.

We hope this helps, and should you need more information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

- Jon Nix and Pam Thomas
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