All Community platforms need to overcome, at the start, the chicken and egg problem. For people to engage the platform must be interesting, but, to be interesting people must engage. Because I4A-Communities is an I4A product we have been able to integrate the Community experience into the entire member experience: bringing activity to their attention and encouraging participation throughout the entire site.
Each member has a personal feed displayed prominently on the welcome page. Here they will see posts to threads they have subscribed to and blog entries from people with whom they have connected. Throughout the site members receive real-time alerts of posts, comments, likes and direct messages. As part of the login widget, again throughout the site, there's continuous notification of all of the above.
To further encourage engagement we have incorporated "likes" on posts. It is a draw that brings people back.
Also, within the Communities platform, participants can see who else is online and instantly message them.
Included with each forum post are displays of likes and comments. Select the likes to see who they are. Select the comments and be taken directly to those comments either within a forum or blog post.
Additionally, wherever an individual's name appears - anywhere - select their name for links to their profile, blog, or to choose to connect with that individual or direct a message to them. The feed also tells who's on line and whether you are already connected.
Use the feed to directly reply to forums or comment on blogs.
Additionally the personalized feed includes tabs for the most recent forums or blog posts regardless of whether you're following the forum or connected with that individual.
Highlighted with the personal feed is a tab titled Notifications, including the number of pending notifications.