The Secret of Building a WPMU Community

WordPress MU is not about WPMU!

Why? Because building a site doesn’t make people use it. But support, service and working with your community will. Here’s my tips on WPMU community building based on supporting Edublogs and Blogs.mu.

While supporting your users keep reminding yourself that “Users don’t know what you know.” While you might like to think being a blogger and how to use a blog dashboard is obvious, it isn’t. For most new users it’s all incredibly frightening.

If you want users to set up blog(s) on your site, and continue to blog, you’ll need to simplify the process and make them feel more comfortable. How? By balancing adequate training material while ensuring suitable level of support with ongoing encouragement/incentives.

Support Material

Worst mistake you can make is deciding on the type of support material based on your personal preference! It’s about what works for your users not you.

Unfortunately how tech savvy a user is determines the type of support material required. Most users cope best with “how-to” information.

Image of support material requirement

Focus on what:

Providing Support

While all users would love (and expect) immediate phone support you need to think carefully what support is practical and appropriate. Their first preference is the fastest, easiest solution for the least effort by them = human nature.

Even with a small number of users you might want to think carefully about providing telephone support. Remember you also want to gradually start learning/problem solving for themselves.

Focus on:

  • Making your support material be their first place for problem solving
  • Supporting users with some sort of forum – so everyone gains from previous responses

Decide on use of email support, contact form or support ticketing system based on number of users. Edublogs has over 300,000 users — it isn’t practical or feasible to provide email support.

Twitter (@Edublogs and @suewaters) is now one of the most important ways we now support users (which I will cover in a later post 8-) )

Bonus Tip for coping:

You’ll feel like pulling your hair out (sometimes)!  Take deep breath and never forgot mistakes you’ve made….

Ongoing Encouragement/Incentives

Another extremely important ways we support Edublogs users are The Edublogger (our blog).

Through The Edublogger we provide:

  • Tips/ ‘how to’ on blogging and using a range of web 2.0 technologies
  • Support for our users – use it for support material and leave comments when need assistance
  • A community – we work hard to encourage educators and students to collaborate and work together e.g. Student blogging challenge, Skype other classes
  • Examples of class and student blogs so users can get ideas for their own blogs e.g. check out class blogs
  • Challenges and competitions for improving their blogging skills while also giving us great examples to share with other users

FINAL THOUGHTS

While building your WPMU community think carefully about:

Would love to hear how you are supporting and building your WPMU community.  What has worked?  What didn’t work (and why?)