How to Create an Online Discussion that Will Ignite Conversation

One of simple strategies online community managers use keep the community fire burning bright is to ignite conversations throughout the community. Once the discussion ignites, like a fire, it is likely to continue burning bright for quite a while because people tend to comment on discussions that are commented on by many others (they like to be part of what is popular, funny, controversial, etc). However, there are definitive good ways and bad ways of igniting this discussion. Here are 4 easy tips to help you create a discussion that WILL ignite versus never catch fire or peter out in a matter of 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 not, 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 contributed to remember exactly what you are asking.

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