Now that group discussions have started in 4 of our groups, I think it is my duty to explain you all a little bit more about how this tool works for engaging a group conversation.
There are only three things you should know (really, only three!):
Receive email notification from a specific group discussion
Once somebody started a discussion, you should tell the system if you want to be notified on your email that somebody replied to it. You can do that by clicking the little white envelop at the bottom page of the discussion started, the one that says "Follow – E-mail me when people reply". Please check your spam filters, because these mails used to get into the spambox!
Receive notification on all started group discussions
There are two ways of letting the system notify to you that any new discussions have started:
Admin options of a discussion starter
- by email:
Once somebody started a group discussion, by clicking to any discussion you will see the tab "Forum home". At the bottom of that page, you can click the little white envelop that says: "Notify – E-mail me when there are new discussions". And you will all receive it into your mailbox!
- by RSS feed:
For the web 2.0 freaks among you, you can also copy-paste the url of the RSS feed into your RSS reader.
As the one that started a discussion, you have some responsabilities! You will see that some Admin options will appear: Edit Discussion - Close Discussion - Edit Your Tags - Delete Discussion. So for example, when you think the conversation has reached an end, you can decide to close it for replies.
The idea is that you write a summary of the discussion to your blogpage and ask the group initiator/administrator to create a link to it in the group's textbox "group achievements" (for an example, see the Ning Freaks
Send Message to Group versus Start a Discussion
The 'Send Message to Group' function (located above the group members photos) should ONLY be used to send a "broadcast message" to all the group members telling them something new happened at your group (you started a discussion, or the group administrator posted a link to a blogpost related to a discussion,...). It is a way to drag people to the group's webpage, it's not a way to start a conversation.
Why not? Because it not exactly works as an emaillist, as people cannot reply to it, they only receive it. So the best way to start conversation is to 'Start a Discussion' under the group's discussion forum. Once a discussion has started, it will work like a mailing list, because people can reply to it. With the difference that it's all nicely brought online to you by ning.
This is it boys & girls. No excuse anymore to hesitate on starting group discussions!