Creating Community | 2
Each section of the community can compliment and be supportive of the other sections and this interconnectedness of course expands the boundaries of your cyber community. Depending on how ambitious you are with your newsletter, it is easy to get reader feedback and post testimonials, or polls from your readership on a variety of topics of interest, giving people a sense of belonging, a sense of investment in your Web site, and in their community. Dr. Ben Dean Ph.D., author of the article "Eleven Low Risk Steps Toward Your Own Email Newsletter" discusses in detail some of the strategies one might want to adopt when pursuing the idea of establishing a newsletter. He recommends such strategies as:
- Subscribe to five or ten free email newsletters
- Check out your competition in your email newsletter niche
- Choose potential titles (Succinct, Self Explanatory)
- Choose potential taglines (key words associated with product, company etc.)
- Decide on Frequency of Newsletter
- Understand the relative value of a Web site (subscribers for a newsletter vs. one time - visitors to the Web site)
- Start a File for Potential Newsletter Topics...
This article addresses the other key steps for starting your own online newsletter and looks in detail at each step. The ones listed above are given as an illustration of some of the key points that can be found at http://www.mentorcoach.com/subs and special thanks is extended to Dr. Dean for a quick summary of a few of those key concepts.
While newsletters have their own powerful appeal and presence in forming a community, interactive email forums help keep that community alive, interactive and growing. The online newsletter also provides material for ongoing discussion and many of the topics discussed through an email forum are suitable and most appropriate for a newsletter and for developing online chat groups. Email forums allow for not only a strengthening in the ties of community, but also are a great test zone for new ideas, and for looking at potential newsletter writers or quotable opinions. Those who participate in online email groups develop an identification with that group and from that develop a different sense of identity.
Social psychology looks at the idea of self and in many cases we are in our minds what groups we identify with. We are American or Australian, members of such and such a club. From that standpoint establishing community through email groups and chat rooms, as well as newsletters subscriptions also identifies who individuals are to themselves. The classic foot in the door sales tactic ties in to these concepts. Author David G. Myers of the textbook "Social Psychology" gives an excellent example:
"Patricia Pliner and her collaborators (1974) found 46 percent of Toronto suburbanites willing to give to the Cancer Society when approached directly. Others, asked a day ahead to wear a lapel pin publicizing the drive which all agreed to do, were nearly twice as likely to donate."
When people identify themselves with an organization this can lead to donations and to product loyalty in many cases. It leads to a sense of identification with a particular Web site when that Web site is part of a thriving active community. It becomes a part of their identity in many different ways.
Networking is a part of each section of creating your community. However, providing exposure for your community through well written articles and columns in other newsletters, on Web sites and in partnership with other groups is another important way of providing linkage and bringing more people to your enterprise. It is possible to write full length Epinions and have your product or service reviewed at http://www.Epinions.com or to write full length papers or articles with HTML and all the flashy banners you would like at http://www.themestream.com, and this would include the idea of a regular column. You could encourage the regular writers for your newsletter to write weekly columns on Themestream Inc. and thereby keep up a regular readership that is more diverse than even the newsletter. The columns and articles can circulate back and forth between the newsletter and Themestream Inc. and may be accepted by many other Web sites as non fiction or articles of interest depending on the product or service. Well written articles will draw attention to Web sites and chat rooms and email forums because of the exposure that is granted.
Created: February 15, 2001
Revised: February 15, 2001