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How do we encourage user participation on news sharing social network?

My company, Noozible, is a news sharing social network currently in beta - noozible.com. We currently have a little over 100 users. The concept involves a platform designed to allow sharing and writing news stories among friends and followers. User engagement has been very sluggish. In an effort to increase interest, we have been sending out daily emails to our users which include interesting news stories curated by the founders. We have consistently received over 30% open rate and over 10% click rate on the emails, which is well above industry averages. So, it is showing strong interest, but that has not translated into user engagement on the site. Any ideas on how to transfer that interest into engagement on the site?

7 Replies

George Lambert
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George Lambert Advisor
Interim CTO - CTO's for Hire
Before You read my answer - consider asking some who has never looked at your site to walk through the user engagement process. Is it warm, simple and inviting? What is the web traffic through the signup process - do people get there? Where do they fall off?

Next - once you are sure that the process is clean, simple and inviting:

Find a seed audience. Convince that audience that you can help them achieve their goals.

In your case - the first place I would go after are community activists. The world is full of "communities of common interest" that are looking to spread their message.

Find a small group of them, and turn them into your evangelists with their own ideas and markets.

I could give you a list to get you started if you would like.

I also have some rough notes that I could go over with you on how these things tend to grow in emerging areas of interest. I would also consider how you can engage Geographic interests into the equation.

George Lambert
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George Lambert Advisor
Interim CTO - CTO's for Hire
Here is a video that I put together for a Law Firm that asked me about their home page.

I hope some of you find it helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50Q-H7yraOA
George Lambert
0
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George Lambert Advisor
Interim CTO - CTO's for Hire
I threw you a little social promotion in your direction and posted 2 articles.

I do think that your site needs a few changes to make it more inviting to join, want more detail, let me know.

send me an email if you would like [removed to protect privacy]
Paul Paetz
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Paul Paetz Advisor
Startup Advisor, Consultant in Disruptive Innovation, Adjunct Professor
I had a look at your homepage and blog. Didn't see enough there to suggest that you had a unique concept that would provide value to me, and by forcing me to sign up before I can see anything, you discourage me from investigating further (and I'm a motivated, want-to-know-and-understand kind of person).

I am familiar with several services that do, or can be made to do what it sounds like you have, so without further explanation/demonstration of what the difference is, and why I should care (what type of user is this ideal for, and who absolutely must-have this functionality to accomplish their goals; what are the top three outcomes you deliver that I can't get anywhere else; what is the value proposition that will make me invest my time, not just to use, but to find out more?). I can't even tell how this is better than a simple blog.

Until you both make it easier to discover, and answer the questions I pose above (why I should care), you will have an enormously difficult time finding your audience and getting engagement. You've erected and/or not removed obvious barriers to getting enthusiastic beta users who will spread the word, which is a big problem because the primary way a product like this should spread is virally, but every impediment you put in the way to slow that down decreases virality (your K-number).

What you describe as strong interest, I would describe as curiosity, which most of us exhibit the first time we see something. The fact that you aren't converting suggests one of two things: you're making it too hard, or you aren't providing sufficient value. Feel free to ping me if any of this needs clarification.
Lane Campbell
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Lane Campbell Advisor
Lifelong Entrepreneur
A lot of folks have touched on the importance of increasing usability on the web interface. I'll just note that if you sent me an email every single day about your website I would mark them as spam and never look back.
Steven Schkolne
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Steven Schkolne Entrepreneur
Computer Scientist on a Mission
keep in mind the 1% rulehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_rule_%28Internet_culture%29

Your tagline says "Don't just read the news - share it, discuss it, report it."

If you have 100 users, then likely 1 of them will report new news. And about 10 will discuss. well you have 100 users with a 10% clickthrough -- so maybe you really have 10 uers. In that case, maybe 0.1 will report, and 1 will discuss.

My point is -- you may just need larger numbers to see significant contribution.
Michael Lattier
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Michael Lattier Entrepreneur
Attorney at Hunter, Smith & Davis
I appreciate all the good feedback. I am going to look at ways to open up the site more so that visitors get a better idea what we're about. As a point of correction re: Lane Campbell: the emails are not about the site. They are emails containing a broad variety of news stories - 3 stories per day. Re: Steven Schkolne - you may very well be correct. We do have a couple users out of the group who are very active; so maybe one primary issue is lack of numbers.
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