Wait! Don't launch yet.
After successfully choosing the best platform to run your community, the next obvious step is to have a launch strategy in place.
Do you really believe this is the right way to build a community? And do you think communities just “launch”? Think.
Well, communities don’t launch. They start small and grow organically, eventually turning into a movement. - David Spinks, Founder of CMX
Needless to say, you might have an “announcement” letting people know that they can join, but this should never be your first step. Just remember that there’s an extremely important step before you open up your community to the world — finding your early members. And most importantly, choosing the right people who really relate to the purpose of your community.
The gift of early members.
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.
Resist the temptation.
We know, as brand communities, it can be quite challenging to curate the right members for your community as you want more and more people to join the community. But the truth is if you are careful in picking your early members, most of your future problems will go away. So resist the temptation.
Curate. Curate. Curate.
Good curation will also make non-members envious. People love to be a member of a community that other people envy. Start building your community with them, not just for them. They will curate the next set of members who come in. They will give you constant feedback and talk about you to their friends. In the long run, they will contribute immensely to the brand's loyalty and retention.
Where do you find them?
There are different ways in which you can pick your early members. And that depends on the kind of community you are looking to build. For example, if your community already has an offline presence, then pick members who are most vocal or influential. If you are starting off directly with a purely online community, convince a few influencers and content creators to join early. Places like Reddit, Product Hunt or crowdfunding platforms (Indiegogo, Kickstarter) are a great place to start looking for such individuals who’ll create a sense of aspiration among the next set of members who join. Identify those, convince them about the community’s purpose and get them in. This isn’t easy, but it’s a seed that will never stop bearing fruits.
The million-dollar question: Will the community follow you?
If you keep the relationship between you and your early members healthy, YES!
For a community to thrive, it’s essential to establish trust with your members. Don’t forget to give. In fact, give more than what you expect to receive from your members. It’s totally okay if they aren’t having an amazing experience, but you should keep your ears wide open and hear them out. Most days, they just want someone who listens to them to be in charge.
But then, here’s a catch - you might have trouble connecting with your members.
So, what should you do then to find the right answer? Or, is there a right answer tbh?
Glynk’s tip 💡
Ever so often, you should challenge the assumptions that you made when you developed your brand’s purpose and values. Check for consistency in the brand message, the members, and the channels you’re thinking of using to help reach your members. Validate this against where you find your member in the online space. Then, form a hypothesis about what would be the best way to connect with those people. You should know from all your research, member discovery/validation and assessment work what you need to do to bring your community to life or bring it to the next level. This is a case where there’s no “right” answer, but the decisions you make here will guide you to your goals.
So, focus on your initial efforts. Initial days are the hardest but it will keep your business growing. And your community will stay alive and sound. And when you stop giving here, they will change you for one of your competitors.
The choice is yours!
Anyways, what do you think? Is it important to be patient and pick members carefully in the first early days or should it be some other way? Let us know your thoughts by replying to this email or dropping a comment. If you liked what you read, please share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter - wherever you love to spend most of your time spreading knowledge!