In today’s story, we talk about a quick start checklist to get started with your community. You’ve probably heard about it already. While companies are making their communities the main attraction of their brands, we can confidently say that people have started valuing community as a core piece of their businesses, beyond just support channels for their products.
After all, the concept isn’t new. And still, everybody is curious about how all this might play out, we have to address the elephant in the room.
Why do this?
Why are we writing this story in the first place?
Well, you can read about this stuff on the internet, sure. But we wanted to write this story because we think it might be useful for you to know about authentic experiences of building a community before you start to build yours.
When we first launched Glynk as an online community to connect like-minded people across the world, we scaled the platform and the community from 0 to 2 Million users. That’s not important here, though. What’s important is - we worked on some of the most complex UI/ UX problems, engagement issues, user sentiments, and retention to make it a thriving one. And we wanted to share those learnings with you guys in this story through a 10 point checklist to help you get started now.
So, this story is all about keeping an eye on important things before building your community, based on how we had done in our initial days. The pointers which you’re going to see now are, of course, just scratching the surface. I’ll talk about each one of these in detail in the next stories.
Now that you understand the motive, perhaps it makes sense to look at these checklists. Let’s begin!
#1 Start by building a 90-day plan
The best online communities start with a good plan. We have talked about this before already. Identify the business outcomes that your community will achieve. It can be related to sales, marketing, or customer service. Now make a solid 90-day plan to figure out what resources you’ll need to make it work. More importantly, think about what you’ll do in the first 90 days to make your community a success.
#2 Don’t build a huge team
Initially, you don’t need a big team to manage your community. So, don’t invest too much in hiring. You’ll need only one community manager who will spend the most time understanding your community initiatives and taking it onwards and upwards. You can read more about how to go about choosing the right community manager here. But, as the community grows, recruiting community co-workers is critical to success.
#3 Choose a technology vendor
This is a vast topic in itself. Choosing a community platform vendor for your community will open many doors to your community’s success. While there are many attributes to go about picking one, you can make this process really simple by keeping one thing in mind: Focus on making it easy for members to join and participate. A platform with easy setup and a great user experience beats everything else.
#4 Start building
Once you’re done selecting a technology vendor, you are all set to build out the community. Make sure to encourage connections rather than transactions. Understand what features/ activities will drive real engagement in your community. Focus on creating a healthy environment in your community - create a space where people see themselves as members and not just as customers.
#5 Identify your early members
We spoke about this so many times - early members are very special people. They are among the first few who lay their faith in you and agree to become a part of the community. You repay the faith by showing them that only the right people are going to be part of the community. Handpick your early members, and let every member know about it. In this case, some of these members can be your employees, but most should be your existing customers who truly care and believe in your business.
#6 Seed your community
Even the most successful communities started from zero. Seeding is a very important activity in almost every community, especially the ones which are starting off. The Community Manager should seed the community every day with relevant content which strikes participation and engagement from members. Often, the trick here is to nudge members into sharing your content, without actually instructing them to do so.
#7 Encourage one-to-one engagement
In the early days, it’s important for you to engage with members in a one-to-one fashion. Utilize the power of personal touch and try to know your members better. Make them feel heard. You can use emails or even phone to talk to members, let them know about key initiatives in the community and how their participation will make a difference.
#8 Start collecting feedback
Feedback reveals what your community members care about. Make sure you collect regular feedback from your early members and identify the key areas that they are deriving value from. Focus your community efforts on those areas. Also, try to discover the areas in which you could improve in your community.
#9 Time to evaluate your efforts
After 30, 60, and 90 days, review the results of your efforts. Has membership grown? Are you seeing real participation and engagement? Is there a lot of content being generated? If you like what you see, get ready to roll the community out to a larger audience.
#10 Don’t forget to promote
Now it’s time to promote the community to a larger audience. As you reach out to a larger group of customers, prospects, employees, and partners, remember that you already have an engaged community in place.
If you are a community builder in the industry, please let me know your thoughts. Comment here or maybe reply to the email. I appreciate everything you send my way :)