Community Management at scale focuses on delighting customers or users, encouraging them to stick around and spread the good word about your product or service to those they know and love. But, communities all have to begin somewhere, too.
If you work at an early-stage startup or have been tasked with building a community from scratch, you’ll have to put on your growth hat. While there’s not a single secret to magically make your community grow, there are a few tried and true tactics that can help you get started.
- Extend personal invitations. No, it’s not always fun to bombard your family members, friends or professional contacts about something you’re working on --- but it works. Make the invitation to your forum, Facebook group or community space fun by framing it as a personal update, introducing the community and what your company does, and by letting them know they’ll be one of the exclusive, early first people to get involved. You’ll be surprised how many people will support you and join on in!
- Talk to people like you’ve never talked to people before. Get in the habit of talking to people everywhere you go, especially if your community is centered around a broad product or service that has value for heaps of people. Take advantage of the time you spend in a Lyft, Uber Pool or on public transit; make those minutes at the laundromat and cafe count. This tactic works especially well in major metros where the opportunity to strike up a conversation is ever present. If it helps your confidence, share your business card or contact information with anyone who wants to be involved.
- Invest heavily in early members. Once you’ve had success inviting people to the community, spend time listening to their feedback. Use it to make their experience as enjoyable as possible and make your founding members feel valued and heard by following up when they share ideas or concerns. Work to surprise and delight them by doing things that don’t scale at this stage, like treating local members to a cup of coffee or sending handwritten notes. Be genuine, and work to form authentic connections.
- Ask new members to help you expand the community. Ask your growing, early group to help you broaden the network by inviting their friends, colleagues and digital connections. Not only will this ensure that the community is like-minded, but it’s an authentic way to quickly increase the number of people in your community.
- Consider a lightweight partnership. Collaborating with a related and complementary company can be an effective way to promote your new community and welcome new members who like both products and services. For example, Passion Passport, a global travel community, teamed up with Paypal to run a themed promotion that drew wanderlusting users to their community via social media. When I worked at Tilt and we were focused on creating city-specific communities, we partnered up with one of Austin’s most loved content hubs to help readers fund their summer group plans. Think about what fits for your group, company and goals.
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