People always say “Build It and They’ll Come,” but that’s not necessarily the case when building an online community. An interactive and successful community does not grow overnight, but rather it takes time to form a community in which users post independently post content and interact without moderation.
Research Research Research
Do you want to know who is using your products in your industry, or rather what motivates them to buy it? Do you want to know where they shop, or what media they like? The answers to these questions and many more requires collecting data about the audience and the status of any current communities out there. A brilliant strategy can only be conceived through extensive qualitative and quantitive research.
- Make Your New Members Feel Special
It is important to develop a relationship with your community members right out of the gate. If you invite people individually, it seems less like a mass invite, and more like an exclusive invitation to join a new community. You can send these invites through email or social networks, but it may also be more meaningful to present these invitation in person at events or other community meet-ups. This is a reliable way to jump start your community in its early stages. By forming these relationships early on, you have members that are dedicated and will more likely help you improve community later on through constructive feedback. Individualization is an ongoing process that should continue even as your community grows. Reach out to individual members to learn what they are interested in, ensures a higher rate of community member activity.
- Diffusion of Ownership
As time goes on, you should be straying away from direct invitations and encourage the existing members of your community to invite their friends. You can create a collective goal to gain new members that can only be met when everyone gets involved. This puts the responsibility and ability to grow the community in the hands of everyone, not just the community manager. As well, you should create relationships with the media in order to make your community known to those in your target market.
Don’t Get Stuck in a Bubble
Remember that life is going on outside the realm of the internet. You are still talking to real people, and you have to remember to treat your community members as such. Once your community is more established, have a “tweetup” or an event relating to the interests of the community members.
- Plan Your Future
Once you have everything in place, you need to put your plan into action. Millington splits this way of planning into a three-month calendar, as well as a 12-month plan. In order to break this down into more manageable chunks of work, it is helpful to make to-do lists at the beginning of each week.
Do you have any other tips? Leave them in the comments below!