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Launching a Successful Discourse Community

Jeff Atwood August 6, 2018

While we’ve offered general tips for building a Discourse community, we also get a lot of questions about what specifically you can do to help launch a successful Discourse community.

What is the “elevator pitch” for your community?

The very first thing people will ask — what is this place? How would you describe your community to someone you just met in a 60 second elevator ride? Make sure that’s visible on your home page, as a banner or pinned topic.

Build some interesting discussions to launch with

group of people working

  • What comes up often in your internal emails? Are there common themes that tend to come up again and again with your fans, customers, users, patrons, teammates, coworkers, subscribers? Try moving those discussions out of private email silos into your public (or private) discussion area.

  • If you find an interesting article on the web you want to discuss, quickly start a new topic by pasting a link into the topic title. Try it!

  • Have some open-ended getting to know you topics for people to share their opinions, experiences, stories, or pictures. An “introduce yourself” topic is always fun, and you should go first!

  • Where have you seen interesting, thoughtful discussions recently? Can you bring the spirit of those discussions to your site? Imagine what a model user you would love to see on your site would do – and then try doing that yourself. Invite friends or coworkers to post example topics and reply to them so visitors can browse the existing conversations to discover what your community is about.

Get the right people in the room

social media notifications

  • Send personal invitations to your staff, power users, or friends, to log in early and reply to your initial topics to generate activity. Send one-click email invites via your Discourse invite page (it’s on your user profile page). You can also send bulk invites to many email addresses at once.

  • Generously like any and every post you enjoy! What type of content gets liked is a major part of your community’s culture. Set an example by frequently liking posts in the early days of your forum. Seeing liked posts also encourages people to reciprocate in kind, and come back for more.

  • Actively seek the help of power users and early adopters in your community. There’s a built in feedback category titled “site feedback” for discussing organization and governance. Let your most avid users have a say in what your community does, how the site works, and what your community becomes.

How do people find your community?

navigation diagram and arrows

  • Where can you place links to your community so that people (and web search engines) will naturally discover it? In the header or footer of your website? Where else?

  • Promote your community. Add a note to your mailing lists or email newsletters, put up a notice on your website, or make a blog entry about your new community. Consider running a contest of some kind.

  • What rewards, perks, contests, or incentives can you give people for signing up, for posting, for replying? Check your user directory at /users to see engagement statistics, and shower your best users with attention to encourage them.

For additional advice, see our blog post on how to build engaging Discourse communities.

Good luck! And don’t forget the most important ingredient of all — time. Building a community takes patience and persistence. Plan to stick around for weeks, months, even years!

Join the discussion at meta.discourse.org

For more blog posts, visit the archives