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Matt
 

Guest Blog: 16 Community ideas to ring in the holidays

Outside your window, the leaves have burst into fiery reds and oranges.  A crisp breeze floats in the air.  The birds have long chirped their good-byes.

And you’re sipping a hot cup of apple cider, contemplating the change in season.

The holidays are almost here.

The end of the year is one of the best chances to take stock your community and provide an emotive experience for your members.  It’s a chance to reflect upon what you learned, what new initiatives you started, and what you still have ahead of you.  It’s a chance to provide a sense of closure to the year and to ignite one more burst of community-wide goodwill.  In short, the holiday season is an amazing opportunity to bring your community together one last time in 2018.

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Here are 16 ideas for the holidays in four categories.  Try to select at least one idea from each category for a holiday plan that runs the gamut of the community experience.  Choose the ones that you especially like; gather your staff members to brainstorm; and put together a plan that’ll navigate you better than Santa’s reindeer through the holidays!

Design

One of the easiest and simplest things you can do is to update your community’s design for the holiday to provide an immediate visual impact.  Users love to see fun twists on your theme.

1.    Tweak your logo with falling snow or twinkling lights.
2.    Replace your forum icons with holiday ones.
3.    Go bold and install a whole new holiday theme from the Marketplace.
4.    Coordinate the holiday design across all of your social media and web properties.

Remembrance

Your 2018 was filled with emotional triumphs and tribulations. Did your community accomplish something great?  How many new members did you welcome?  Did you lose any members?  Create a shared experience that binds and connects your community closer together.

1.    Craft a year-end mailer that chronicles your community’s victories and struggles.
2.    Post a “Did You Remember This?” topic that reconnects with all the funniest, informative, and most poignant topics.
3.    Edit a “Top Moments of 2018” montage that highlights the biggest events that transformed your community in the past year.
4.    Memorialize members who have moved on or departed your community.

Appreciation

Holidays are all about demonstrating appreciation for your loved ones, and your community is no different.  Take the time to demonstrate an authentic and warm appreciation for all members who have shared the past year with you. 

1.    Promote new users who have done a superb job of supporting the community over the year.
2.    Send out physical or digital gifts as a token of your appreciation to key members.
3.    Write individualized messages for every staff member that highlights their wonderful contributions.
4.    Send a thank-you note to Invision Community in the comments below on how using Invision Community has helped propel your community’s growth in 2018.

Celebration

Finally, the holidays are a season of celebration.  Spread tidings of joy and merriment to all members in your community, social media, and offline for all-around cheer.
 
1.    Count down to the holidays with different daily announcement using the Announcements feature.
2.    Write a year-end “2018 Celebration Message” mailer to applaud all the great events from 2018
3.    Host a winter giveaway with special holiday packages or gifts.
4.    Throw a holiday party as a meet-up, using Calendar and Venues, to mingle with your members in person.

Reconnect your members one more time in 2018 with a rich and shared story of the past year.  The holidays are an intensely emotional time that can provide an occasion for remembrance, an occasion for appreciation, and most of all, an occasion of celebration of all great things that have happened and are yet to come.  Let your community be the gift that keeps on giving.  

Happy holidays to all Invision Community clients, and may your winter holidays be filled with joyous cheer and community friendship!

Joel R is a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. When he's not running his own successful community, he's peppering Invision Community's private Slack channel with his feedback, community management experience and increasingly outrageous demands (everything is true except the last part).

Edited by Matt


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Something we do each year is Secret Santa between members. Yes, with real gifts, mostly with a symbolic value, like 15$ recommended value. It adds greatly to the holiday spirit. You might think that there will be many people trying to cheat and get a present without sending one, but we had only 1 such case for all these years and more then 100 participants per year. 

I highly recommend it. 

Edited by jair101

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2 hours ago, jair101 said:

Something we do each year is Secret Santa between members. Yes, with real gifts, mostly with a symbolic value, like 15$ recommended value. It adds greatly to the holiday spirit. You might think that there will be many people trying to cheat and get a present without sending one, but we had only 1 such case for all these years and more then 100 participants per year. 

I highly recommend it. 

That's a great idea! I think tangible items are a great way to activate communities with offline engagement.  

I'm not sure how in-depth you go with your guidance on the secret santa, but i encourage you to try to connect to an emotive experience -- for example, to relate it to self-disclosures throughout the year (like member interviews) so the gifts are more personal, or to do a community theme for the gifts so it's a tribal experience.  

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42 minutes ago, Joel R said:

That's a great idea! I think tangible items are a great way to activate communities with offline engagement.  

I'm not sure how in-depth you go with your guidance on the secret santa, but i encourage you to try to connect to an emotive experience -- for example, to relate it to self-disclosures throughout the year (like member interviews) so the gifts are more personal, or to do a community theme for the gifts so it's a tribal experience.  

Naturally, the gifts are themed to the theme of the community, which is travel. You have gifts bought from all over the world, you get stylish books with nice pictures, bottles of wine, etc, etc. With a few exceptions the gifts are very thoughtful and nice. And the gifts can be very personal too - you can understand a lot for someones personality if you are active in the same community. One example - someone was raving about some pancakes he/she ate somewhere around the world, another member said how she used to make great pancakes, but she doesn't have a pancake pan since she moved to a new apartment...her secret santa gift was brand new pancake pan. So yeah, it can be very fun and entertaining for the members themselves, but also for the community as a whole. 

Its a bit tiresome to organize, but you don't need to push it more then needed 🙂 Member interviews can be alienating (tried that too, unrelated to secret santa), because many people prefer to be closed off online, which nowadays is understandable. Or at least they prefer to be open on their own terms, not being forced by an interview. If you have a tight fun community, things will work themselves out. 

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3 minutes ago, The Old Man said:

It's been tradition for over a decade to install a seasonal theme, actually seasonal themes on my forums from IBTheme.com.

They range from cute snowmen to traditional colours, but no photo backgrounds, all hand drawn style.

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Some great choices to choose from! The snowmen are really cute 🤩

 

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11 minutes ago, The Old Man said:

They range from cute snowmen to traditional colours, but no photo backgrounds, all hand drawn style.

You're a lucky one 👍, right now only the upper right one seems to be available on IBTheme.com.

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Yes, I'm sure the others are due imminently! They are normally out every year.

My main community is about a very dark 90's TV series, serial killers, criminal profilers etc and my members still love the Xmas themes even though some are probably bit too cute for my community, something for everyone though and I've never seen anything top them. Sometimes I've combined with the falling snow plug-in.

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