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  Intranet Participation?
I am trying to get some housing community interested in their Intranet sites. The intranet website exists from before. All I can do is update the sites. The facilities are like any ordinary intranet setup. There are features like Community news, Classifieds, Message board, Alerts, Calendar of Events. I would be interested in knowing as to how can I get the users to come back again to their website again.

Thank you for raising a very important question. Encouraging repeat participation, whether for an intranet site or internet site is something that takes some planning and strategy. It also takes an understanding of the possibilities and constraints faced by your potential participants.

Bearing in mind the community components that you already have in place we would begin by recommending the following strategies for encouraging participation;

1) PROVIDE REASONS TO VISIT: Fresh, pertinent content easily-accessible on the front page of the intranet site.

Placing new and informative content on the front page on a regular basis will help to stimulate interest, especially if you can link that content to topics on the message boards where your members are able to share their opinions about or responses to what they have read.

2) PROVIDE REASONS TO EXCHANGE: Create engaging topics on your message boards.

Message topics should incite input and exchange to encourage your members to come back to see what else has been said or to see if their message has been replied to. This way your participants become repeat visitors. For all new topics created it is important to ensure that each has a thought-provoking starting post to get the ball rolling. Topics that are interesting and provide a venue for building a comprehensive resource will help to encourage repeat visits from your members. (On a side note, it is important to ensure that if there are any dead topics that you either try to revive them or archive them. Dead topics will give people the impression that there is not much activity. For more information, please read "Best Use of Boards?"

3) PROVIDE A GOOD ENVIRONMENT: Moderation or community representatives.

Moderators (or other community representatives) on your message boards will help to spur interest and build membership loyalty. Moderators will not only be of help to members in finding information or maintaining quality discussion, but they are that welcoming presence that provides another reason for members to return. Moderators will themselves often build a following and serve to create bonding between participants.

4) PROVIDE VENUES FOR INDIVIDUALS: Spotlight interesting posts and participants.

Along with your fresh content on the front page, an area for spotlighting a member and/or a member's post from the message boards will assist in driving repeat visits. People love to see their "name in lights" and will often become more active once they have been spotlighted.

5) PROMOTE: Even internal communities need promotion, so get the word out.

One great way to attract attention to your intranet site is by developing a monthly newsletter that is sent out to your members. This monthly newsletter can spotlight a particular topic on the message boards, news item tickler, event announcement and editorials from a guest writer. NOTE: it is important that if you utilize a newsletter to attract attention to your intranet site that you provide links for quick and easy access to things mentioned in your newsletter.

You may also wish to read the following past Community Answers' Question and Answers for additional information;

Spurring Discussion?
Turning Visits into Participation?

We hope these suggestions will be of assistance and wish you the very best of luck to you with your intranet.

- Jon Nix and Pam Thomas
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