How to Create an Online Discussion that Will Ignite Conversation

One of simplest strategies online community managers use to keep the community fire burning bright is to ignite conversations throughout the community. However, there are methods to ignite this discussion that will increase the chances that it will survive versus peter out in a few minutes.

Take a look at the very successful discussion below created by Paul from GovLoop and see if you can immediately spot the 4 successful things this discussion does. If you can’t spot them immediately, read on…

1. Formulate a discussion title that is interesting/catchy/negative, preferably in a question format (helps people know what to do – questions are easier to answer than a general comment).

2. Answer your own discussion question in a concrete, easily digestible way with enough context that a potential member could generate an answer for himself. Notice how Paul starts off with “Mine was a forward from my mother who had received an email…” To turn this around and show you what NOT to do…don’t leave the body of your discussion empty…you need to start the conversation off yourself…once you take the first dive into the pool others will be able to follow much more easily. Monkey see, monkey do…

3. If possible, add some substantiated data that contributes to why your question is important, and/or throw in a little piece of education in the discussion (double win for the reader). See how at the end of Paul’s post he cites a fact about sending emails from a documented source – the David Shipley book SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do it Better.

4. Repeat the discussion question in the body of your post and put it in bold. Like leaving your phone # at the beginning and end of a voice mail, this makes it easier for the potential contributor to remember exactly what you are asking.