Onboarding New Members & Helping Your Community Find Its Way
Providing new members with an excellent first experience and showing server value will retain members and keep engagement high.
New Spaces for New Faces
Providing a good, welcoming first experience for your community shows real value from the get-go and makes sure new members stick around and get involved.
So, picture yourself as a new member joining your server. What would make you say “Hi” right away? What would you want to see when you join? What would make you read the rules and get a good sense of your community’s mission?
The Perfect Member Experience
Let’s start from the beginning. What do you want your members to see first?
This is something we call Journey Mapping. Imagining what a new member goes through puts you in their shoes and helps you understand what they need to become an active member of your community.
Once you’ve been in their shoes, you can pave the path they’ll take into your community, as well as make sure you set the right tone and first impression.
Top Tip: Remember, not everyone is a Discord veteran! New users join every day, and your server may be the first one they’ve been to.
Creating an inclusive and not overly complicated onboarding flow will help everyone get involved, so think about creating spaces that are easy for new members to start chatting and aren’t overloaded.
Helping New Members Find Their Way
If you can get new members chatting in their first 15 minutes of landing in your server, you're off to an excellent start. To help members to feel confident in where to go and how to navigate your server, it’s a good idea to Enable Community to set up built-in membership screening and a Welcome Screen.
- Use your Welcome Screen to highlight key channels to check out first and how to find key information. Include a combination of informative and engaging channels (like a channel directory) that allow new members to send their first message (like in an introductions channel).
- Membership screening requires new members to read through a customized set of server rules and confirm they agree before being allowed to chat. This works particularly well for medium to large servers as it requires little to no manual effort and allows you to state your community mission clearly and how members will be expected to behave.
Sharing Your Community Mission
If you can have your mission in place from the get-go, it’ll become a vital tool for guiding your decision making and making sure community managers and members alike are headed towards a common goal.
Get started by putting together a concise purpose statement that encompasses:
- Who you’re gathering
- What people should do
- Why this will bring value to you all
Then, share it in a public channel for members to see as they join.
If members can feel assured their values align with the community’s mission and that they’re joining a like-minded group of people, they’ll be more likely to feel a sense of belonging.
Encourage Members to Contribute
Depending on your server's purpose, set up a special intro channel to allow new members to share their stories.
This can encourage members to create strong bonds by getting them involved from the beginning. Asking random questions like their favorite ice cream flavor or their favorite song is a great ice breaker that sets your community apart and entices organic conversation between members.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re taking the time to respond to your new members’ messages and welcoming them into a server with a friendly, human response!
Remember, it can be daunting to jump straight in and start chatting with new people mid-conversation, so introducing some easier ways for new members to engage from the beginning will really help people get involved.
Lead by Example and Welcome New Members
As an admin, it's up to you to set the standard as the model community member, as new members will look to you to gauge what to do and how to behave.
If you’re finding new members are joining your server without introducing themselves, set up a join log (via server settings) to help you keep track of members as they arrive. You can then tag them in an engaging welcome message, ask them a question (like where they’re from) or paste an introduction template.
Although this might feel a little manual or time-consuming to start with, if you can stick to it, these things will eventually become community habits that are adopted by all members.
Learn by Trial and Error
Onboarding takes time to find what works best for your community and size, and it can sometimes take a bit of trial and error.
For example, in the Pokemon GO Ottawa Community, the built-in membership screening feature is set up to make sure new members have read the rules. After confirming, they’re given access to only a few channels including a welcome channel, a channel for help, and another channel to become verified. The rest of the server is locked behind this role until they’re verified.
While this is a slightly longer onboarding process than most servers, it helps prevent bots and spam as only people with a Pokémon GO account are able to verify.
Top Tip: If you want to check on how you’ve set up your server for new members, you’ll have the ability to View Server as… a specific role. This feature reorganizes your server to show only what that role would see to provide a real-time look into what a new member experiences.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your Server Insights to see where new members are going and what’s working well for your new member onboarding.
Understanding a good onboarding experience is crucial to the success of a server. You’ve spent all this time setting up an amazing place to call home for a growing community, but now it’s to really welcome your members and foster a strong sense of belonging. Leading by example will go a long way in instilling a positive atmosphere amongst you, your moderators, and any existing or new members to come!
With thanks to Kevin (definitivegear) for all their help in writing this article.