Relaunching an Online Community

Social Networks  are a great way of connecting people who share the same interests and encourage community discussion. Thinking that this may be a great tool to connect its more than 200,000  members across North America the Sigma Chi Fraternity (of which I’m a member of ) decided to create a community for its members where they can interact and connect. Hosted by Affinity Circles its a pretty robust system that allows interaction at many different levels and members are able to form their own groups based on location or interest. Its a great tool and it would be very useful in achieving its purpose… if someone actually used it.

This was the old network ( I personally liked the layout)

This was the old network ( I personally liked the layout)

As a an active member there was no discussion of this site within my chapter or when meeting members from other chapters, I only came across it when searching through  Sigma Chi’s central site. Because no one was active on it and because there was no real life connection or use for it this network was empty and barren. Instead members have reverted to using  larger networks such as Facebook to connect. The downfall with this is that disparate groups are made instead of gathering the organization  together as a whole.

Can this be fixed?

Well the headquarters staff is trying its best to . At a recent Fraternity meeting  this past weekend  they  launched  a new network with toned down features and a simpler interface hoping that it will appeal to both younger and older generations. While this may address some issues in the end I feel  it won’t fix the larger issue of participation.

The new network. Simplified and waiting to be used.

The new network. Simplified and waiting to be used.

So how can this relaunch become successful so it doesn’t become yet another empty community?  While I’m not claiming to be an expert here are some of my ideas in developing interest and use of this website by the general fraternity:

Community leaders: By getting volunteers ( either chapter presidents or designated  geographic community managers) to actively use , connect, and discuss this site  becoming evangelists for this initiative the hope will be to get people talking about it once again and  encourage its use.By building its use in day to day tasks  for active/alumni chapter operations or as a space for organizing events and initiatives among members, users will have a reason to return on a more regular basis and will come to associate the website as the space for Fraternity information/news .

Creating a Hub: Another important piece to this new site is making sure  that it offers something that other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter don’t . A big part of this in my opinion is having  a central interaction point. While Sigma Chi has a central website, by creating a page where news and events from the fraternity as a whole are posted members will come to this page to keep up to date with whats happening within the fraternity . This can be as simple as a weekly blog posting or advanced as a news feed where members can recieve news and updates from the entire site or just the networks they are involved in.

Connecting Content : Bringing in and organizing the  content  located on other sites will be a good community building tool as well. There are many facebook groups, flickr feeds, Youtube videos and blog entries related to Sigma Chi scattered across the net. Allowing members to either link or post this content up will encourage interaction and discussion. While this may be a bigger undertaking I also feel posting up materials such as  pledge manuals, historic pictures  and other memrobelia on this site will also build  increased value with network users.

These are just a few points that I feel will help to ensure that this new site doesn’t go to waste. There will be a lot of work needed to build interest and to ensure the usability of this network. I’m curious to hear  more about people’s experiences in building community and thoughts of how one can be started/restarted. Feel free to post your thoughts/ideas in the comments section below.

Have any questions/comments ? Contact me at or send me a twitter message .

Tags: , , ,


  1. In the podcast we I did we discussed a “news feed” feature that the site will have. It will allow users to submit Sigma Chi news for everyone to see. You will also be able to subscribe to it’s RSS feed. I’ve ado heard talks about a future facebook app. My blog post & podcast can be found here.
    nice post & In Hoc
    Jacob Cook
    http://www.sharesigmachi .com

  2. Great feedback Jacob! I definitely agree that there also should be some connection with FB, every undergrad ( and soon everyone else) is on it. So linking back to that site would make things a lot easier.

  3. Fellas,
    let’s keep this dialog going with a podcast. That way we can all share our views and it will be available for others to hear. Let me know if you are interested.

Leave a comment