To bring people to the forum has always been a battle… People just don’t turn up there in the first place, but why? When my colleagues and I had a chat about it to know what is stopping people from hitting the forum and what makes it so easy for them to go to a chat-based forum?
The answer was “ FRIENDS”, their friends were already there in a chat space… If their friends had been in a forum they would go to a forum without thinking twice. It’s true, right? We all want to go to a place where our friends are, rather than go to a place filled with strangers especially when you are in need of help.
Maybe this is where forums have been blind-sighted all this while. A forum always tries to cater to intellectual needs like to inform people, to educate people, to solve problems, etc. Maybe it is falling short in catering to the emotional need of a person, where they would want to build a close relationship, a type of relationship where there is no pressure, where it's fun to spend time, where you want to share not just incidents but emotions, where you have friendships.
So, we have found out the root cause that can increase the chances of people coming to a forum than other outlets.
How to foster friendship in your community?
Have you ever noticed the most liked and favorite people in our lives are our friends? We go to any end for them and they do the same. If we can cultivate such relationships in a community we succeed in making a better life for our members and they would love to be part of you cause you have given something special for them in their life.
So come on let’s see how you can be the spark to build healthy friendships in a community
# Induce one on one conversation in your community
One-on-one conversations are one magical act that helps people walk closer to each other. People tend to open up easily to one person rather than a huge group and when they feel comfortable with someone they start building a relationship that can lead to a healthy friendship in days. In a community you can induce these by conducting a campaign, posting a post challenging people to have 5 one on one conversations throughout the week. By these, you create opportunities for people to have a conversation with each other.
Events usually attract a lot of people to come together. Now that you have people all over the place it is easy for people to find out others who match their personality and make friends, especially offline events that involve spending the day together will build relationships that you never expected. I bet people who walked in as strangers will go back as good friends.
#Have team-building and icebreaker sessions
A community is not always a fully known group and that is why icebreakers and team-building activities are going to be very helpful. When you help take away the initial awkwardness between people in the community, you make it easy for people to talk and build friendships. These icebreakers and team-building games have always ended with fun happy memories for me and I personally have great friends who I happen to make after a fun game in a crowd at camps.
#Create chances to work together
When people work together they start filling each other’s gaps and start to complement each other, that is how great things are made and that is how great friendships are also made too. Create teams and give responsibilities or ask them to accomplish something together, this will increase the conversations they have, will increase the time they spend with each other, will bring a great level of understanding, people will start making friendships eventually.
#Have something like a buddy project
Buddy project is nothing but connecting a newly joining member to an already present member of the community. By this, you make it easy for the new member to get to know things in the community. This buddy has a very responsible role, they have the ability to make the new person fall in love with the community and eventually can be one of the best buds in the community. This buddy project can create a special friendship in the community from the start.
# Fun activities and games
I believe a little sprinkle of fun can do wonders in any atmosphere. It is a proven truth that when people laugh together they become lifelong friends. As a community host or a moderator, you have the power and responsibility to create such incidents where people can laugh out loud. You just make them laugh and that will happen eventually.
Any relationship needs an exchange of vulnerability and that can happen only when people share thoughts and emotions with each other. As a community builder, you can encourage and induce this practice by making a weekly post where they can come and tell out how their week was, their small wins, their problems, etc. When people start sharing with each other they will start creating a bond with each other. Bring to mind your best friend… is there anything they don’t know about you? There’s nothing right? Because we have shared every bit of our lives with each other. This is the same we try to do in our community.
# Create chances to have conversations
The more people talk to each other the more they come close to each other. If you want people in your community to be good friends you need to help them strike a conversation with each other. Conduct campaigns and events where you can create a ton of opportunities for your members to have conversations with each other. Apart from these conduct challenges where people have to come together to conquer the challenge with these activities people cannot miss talking to each other.
# Encourage people to update their bio in the community
Bio is like an id card for people to know about each other. It is also a way to introduce ourselves to the other members of the community. When a bio is correctly filled people will know who aligns with their personality and will help them in finding prospective people with whom they can hang out. This can also help in telling them whom to reach at times of help who is the best in what. All will fuel in building good friendship between the members.
# Frequent engagement and meetups
A community always succeeded in building one but to sustain it is always a question, most communities ghost after introducing each other. If this is going to be the case for your community too then cultivating friends is going to be a challenge. How can you create friendships when there are no people only? To overcome this make sure your community is actively engaging when engagement is on people talk to each other and the magic happens on its own
# Choosing the right set of people
We all don’t become friends with all the people on earth. Cause it’s impossible to stay connected with someone who can never understand you or doesn’t align with your personality. A diverse group is healthy but the diversity also has to be handpicked. The right set of people for your community are the ones that deep inside feel the same purpose as the community, when people of the same kind come together nurturing friendship between them is not going to be a great deal. And such friendships are going to be serious and valuable.
When people start finding someone to whom they look forward to spending time together no matter what, they will want to come to the community as a community will start to feel like a happy good place where they feel safe and loved. You as a community builder are entitled to make sure everyone finds their spark to find a lifelong friend. A community should have this as one of their responsibility and purpose.
A community is created to cater to the needs of its members, then it has to be a place where it is filled with friends.
After all, a friend in need is a friend indeed.