We have already gone over how to create and maintain a successful email campaign. But it bears repeating here in terms of building an online community. Email is a very effective tool in alerting members of your community what is happening with your organization and how they can be a part of it.
Message boards are simply ways for members of your community to speak with each other in a moderated or unmoderated format . Users sign up, ask questions, post experiences, which are answered by other members of the community.
ADD A COMMENT
A simple form at the bottom of your articles allow users to post comments about the article or story. This has a two-fold effect:
1) It adds content to your site.
2) It may answer questions that your initial article did not address--helping future readers with their questions.
Easy to do with Facebook Social:
I know I ranted on this in my previous lesson, but it bears repeating here. Amazon, Ebay, Digg, YouTube, and other popular sites allow the user to post a review (even if it is just a 1 to 5 star ranking), why not offer this same function to your users?
USER GENERATED CONTENT
The arts attract a very sophisticated volunteer. When you speak with Arts Volunteers you will find that most are college educated, and at one time may have considered a career in the arts or humanities. And what do we use these people for? Stuffing envelopes, showing people to their seats, labeling, and other menial tasks.
Why not use their expertise to generate content for your site? If your opera company is presenting Tosca, why not ask 3 or 4 volunteers to write articles on different aspects of the production? Perhaps a history of Tosca, or an article on Puccini, or even their experiences with the opera.
By putting these articles on your site (along with comment boxes) you are increasing content for your site, along with building community, all without a great deal of extra effort.
QUIZZES AND POLLS
I don't know why people love the online quiz or poll--but they do. Especially when there are prizes! This would also be a great volunteer job for that person who really knows her stuff. Let her create and administer the weekly quiz to keep your content fresh and people coming back.
Why let people sell your tickets on Craigslist? Create an area where users can go to sell tickets for your production, or to say that they are looking for tickets for your production. Again, this is happening elsewhere, you might as well take advantage of that--besides nothing says your organization can't sell some discounted tickets on the board as someone else.
USER SUBMITTED ADVICE
These areas are starting to become quite popular. The idea is for users to share their interests with other users with similar interests. For example a symphony might have an advice area titled Classical CDs You Must Have in your Collection. In this area, visitors post the CD titles and perhaps a link to Amazon for purchase, that they think are the best classical CDs in the world.
Although it would be great if the information gleaned from this area would be used for programming decisions (doubtful), it does help build community as people who visit the site can begin to see like minded individuals posting advice that can assist them.
User profile pages are pretty much the same as what you see on the social networking sites (Myspace, Facebook) It allows users to create an online profile that answers questions like their favorite show, their favorite composer, etc. This way when a user posts a comment, a review, an article, etc, you can click on their user profile to see who did the posting.
One of the greatest advantages to User Profiles for your arts organization is the fact that a single person who wouldn't attend a show by themselves may be invited by a group of online users to attend with them!
Easy Social Network Setup Ning.com