You’ve launched that community, or you’re about to. Congratulations—now the fun begins! It’s time to launch your platform, which has its own set of challenges (and let’s not forget some great support systems from Higher Logic and our HUG user group).
Beyond the platform, here are some strategic elements to think about as you transition from social media to an online community ready for members:
For someone with a social media background, the idea of NOT trying to get as many people involved as possible right off the bat seems odd. But you’re not just trying to reach people, you’re trying to get them to adopt new behaviors by taking part in the community. And by starting small, you can work with those first new members to get them involved and set the ground rules that your next generations of members can follow.
In social media, the message is almost always yours – you want your audience to react to content you create. We often launch communities thinking the same way - about our organizational goals (“We want a community to build stronger connections to our members/lower support costs/innovate faster”) or those of our members (“We want our members to network effectively/get answers to their problems/have a space to discuss important issues”).
But where community thrives is the space where those interests intersect. The shared purpose of the community is where members and the organization can work together best, and it’s a good place to start.
Social media is often about content. Create items that people can access on their terms, and they can share or respond to it. New communities grow stronger with programming – regular occasions (live or online) for members to come together and interact. Start with simple items – a weekly Work Out Loud thread, Question of the Week, etc., that gives members a regular way to interact with each other. Content can bring people into a community, but programming gives them reason to stay.
Ever have a good conversation with someone you couldn’t see, hadn’t met and didn’t know anything about? Probably not. Don’t underestimate the importance of complete profiles in helping members engage with each other. Getting people to share who they are and what they do can make a big difference.
While planning seed questions and outreach is important to start engagement, the seed question is the first step. Line up others to join the conversation, so it’s not just your smiling profile picture monopolizing the activity stream.
Building a community takes time - but so did building your social media presence and your organization. Set realistic expectations, and don't hesitate to use resources like the Community Manager Handbook, the Executive Playbook or other industry resources for even more ideas.