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Circle Editorial Team

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How to onboard new community members: Your step-by-step process
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Do you want to offer your new community members the best experience? Need to boost community engagement and member retention? It all begins with having a great onboarding experience. 

Imagine you’re a new member entering a community. If you feel confused about what to do, aren’t sure how to get value from the community, or feel unsupported, you probably won’t stay in that community for very long. 

So, how do you create a seamless, welcoming, and straightforward onboarding experience to help your new members hit the ground running?

Stick with us because, in this 7-step guide, we’re spilling all our member onboarding secrets and giving you our top tips for a successful onboarding process. But first, why is community onboarding important?

Why is providing a great member onboarding experience important? 

Creating the best onboarding experience is vital because it gives new members a great impression of your community, helps them gain value faster, and encourages them to engage and interact with others. 

Providing a fantastic onboarding experience is also essential for helping new members understand what’s expected of them in the community and showing them how to navigate the platform so they can start engaging faster. 

On a practical level, new member onboarding helps you save time answering the same questions over and over again, sending the same resources for new members to read, and nudging them to engage in the community. 

How to create a seamless onboarding process in 7 easy steps

So, what can you do to up your onboarding game and make the process as smooth, supportive, and helpful as possible for your new members? 

Step 1 – Plan your onboarding journey

Create a rough plan of each step your new members will take throughout their onboarding journey, and start thinking of ideas to enhance your new member onboarding experience. 

Think about what your new members need to know

  • Information new members need to know
  • Community guidelines, culture, and values
  • Where new members can get support
  • Spaces you created just for new members

Think about what your new members need to do

  • Introducing themselves to the community
  • Joining a group call with other new members
  • Buddying up with a more established member
  • Creating their member profile and filling it in

Step 2 – Create your “welcome” space

Design a welcome space specifically for new members that helps them get a “lay of the land.” This welcome space should include the most critical information and actions each new member should take, but be careful not to overwhelm them with too much. 

Keep what your new members need to know and do simple, and include things like:

  • A checklist of first steps to take
  • A guide to introducing themselves
  • A description of/ instructions for each space
  • Community guidelines/culture/values etc
  • Tutorials and resources for using the platform

Step 3 – Create a friendly welcome post

Your “welcome post” gives new members a chance to interact immediately in your community. Your welcome post is a great place to provide new members with a quick introduction to the community, let them know what to do next, who to ask for help, and encourage them to ask questions. 

Here are something you can include in your welcome post: 

  • One important task to complete
  • Community guidelines
  • A guide to using each space
  • A video explainer of the platform

Step 4 – Set up an “introduce yourself” space

The “introduce yourself” space is crucial to get right because this space is likely the first time your new members will interact with other members in the community during their onboarding experience. 

Great onboarding encourages engagement and user adoption right away, so pay special attention to your pinned “introduce yourself” post, making sure it’s easy to follow by giving new members a prompt. 

This prompt could be something like

  • What are your hobbies and interests? 
  • Give us your name, location, and reason for joining
  • Tell us what problems you want to solve
  • Do you have a goal for this month? Tell us about it!

Step 5 – Get ready for your community launch

Now that you’ve thoroughly mapped out your onboarding process for new members, it’s time to start inviting them into your community and setting up an onboarding automation sequence. 

In most community platforms, like Circle, you can create automated emails and popup messages to let your new members know what to do next and encourage engagement. Automated onboarding messages are also great for feeding bite-sized tutorials and resources to your new members without overwhelming them. 

Your email/ message automation might look something like: 

  • Thank you for joining!
  • Check out our “Welcome space”
  • Introduce yourself
  • Complete your profile
  • Need help with anything?
  • How to attend an event
  • How to start a poll 
  • Join our new member mixer!
  • Do you have any feedback?

Step 6 – Personally welcome members

One of the best ways to strengthen your onboarding experience and help new members assimilate into the group is to personally reach out to them to welcome them into the community. 

Make sure you’re replying to new member introductions and maybe even tagging a “buddy” to help them get set up. You can also go the extra mile and even send each new member a personal message, asking them if they have any questions and welcoming them. 

If you’re launching a brand new community and it’s quite small, you may even consider conducting 1:1 personal onboarding to give your new members more value right from the beginning. 

Step 7 – Get feedback and improve

You must work out the kinks in your onboarding process to continue making it better, more valuable, and engagement-boosting for the next batch of members. So, don’t forget to ask your members for feedback on their onboarding experience. You can do this through: 

  • Onboarding surveys
  • Feedback spaces
  • Check-in calls
  • Data Analytics
  • Feedback posts

You should also measure the success of your onboarding process by mapping out key milestones you want new members to hit within X months and checking member activity to see if they hit those milestones.

Use what you learn to spot problems with your onboarding process and improve them. 

Ready to create your onboarding experience? Do it with Circle!

With our step-by-step guide, we hope you feel more confident about setting up a seamless, successful, engagement-boosting onboarding experience for your new members!

If you’re looking for the perfect community platform to manage your community, why not try Circle? Over 6K creators use Circle to power their communities because it’s easy, flexible, and fully customizable. 

Effortlessly centralize people, content, and payments to one beautiful platform and offer your members the premium community experience they deserve. Circle has everything you need to go live anytime, host engaging discussions, run events, chat with members, and so much more! 
Connect like never before: Try Circle free for 14-days. No credit card required.

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