One of the most commonly asked questions we get is how to ensure a new community launch is successful.
You may think that if you have the right features with the correct configuration, success is guaranteed, but it requires more than that.
Way back in the early 2000s when the internet was in its infancy, there was an explosion of new communities. If you had some webspace, a little technical knowledge and a forum script you were almost guaranteed to attract people into your community.
These days it takes a little more work to get your new community off the ground. There’s a lot of books and resources out there to help, but focusing on your purpose, value, and emotion will give you a bright star to sail by.
The purpose of your community should be very clear from the first visit. You want your new visitors to instantly understand the reason your community exists and the benefit they will get from it.
This can be implicit with a short written mission statement at the top, or it can be through robust visual design and structure.
When launching a new community, aim to be as specific as possible with your purpose. You can always broaden when it grows. This may go against your instinct to cast a wide net to catch as many people as possible, but resist that temptation!
For example, a community focused on fitness has a vague purpose. Fitness is a broad topic, and there are many niches inside of it. This could be anything from losing weight, to running faster to increasing the weight on a barbell. Narrowing the focus to running helps a little, but there’s a lot of space in that field. You have marathon runners, ultra runners, Sunday park joggers and everything in between.
A better starting point for a community may be “Run your first 5k”. This instantly makes it very clear to your audience that you intend to help new runners develop their ability enough to finish a short race. The sense of purpose is clear, and it is easy to know what to ask of this new community and the benefit you may get.
Asperger Experts (https://www.aspergerexperts.com) has a strong design and mission statement above the fold, which makes its purpose clear from the first visit.
Make your purpose very clear and don’t be afraid to niche down to a specific area, to begin with.
The earliest communities allowed people from all around the world to gather and talk. Anyone who had the technical skill to host a community could be virtually guaranteed members and just being able to meet was all the value needed.
We now live in more sophisticated times and crave more than facilitation. Your community needs to add value beyond companionship and knowledge.
One of the simplest ways to give value to your members is through sharing your expertise. A steady flow of written articles or videos gives your members a reason to come back.
IG (https://community.ig.com), a fintech company use their expert articles to draw their audience back to their community to contribute. IG is a known leader in their field, so their blog is a real draw for those investing in the markets.
Never post for the sake of it, always inform, educate or entertain your community.
At the heart of every conversation is emotion. We pride ourselves on being logical and thoughtful creatures, yet our emotional brain responds first and makes a judgement often subconsciously.
Setting the pitch and tone of your community is critical from its earliest days. As the community manager, you get to define the tone by modelling the behaviour you want to see in your own content. Some communities do well with dark humour and snark; while others require positivity and fun.
“Humans are herd animals. We want to fit in, to bond with others, and to earn respect and approval of our peers. Such inclinations are essential to our survival. For most of our evolutionary history, our ancestors lived in tribes. Becoming separated from the tribe—or worse, being cast out—was a death sentence.” - James Clear
Hang out where your audience hangs out and develop your tone so that it resonates with your community.
Starting a community is a rewarding experience, but you need to do more than just open your doors to ensure a successful launch.
Checking to make sure your site has a strong purpose, that you offer value to your members and the emotional pitch is right will set you on the right course.