Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed the birth of many great new communities. Some have flourished, some have not. There are a few things that need to get done if you want to give your new community a fighting chance. These things might sound obvious, but we’ve seen companies that had money, resources and traffic fail because they didn’t do them.
Getting a community off the ground is all about achieving critical mass. Critical mass occurs when you have a certain threshold of members and more importantly interactions. Here are three things to do to get there:
1. Promote it. You don’t have to hire a PR firm or spend money on ads but you do need to let people know that you’ve launched. Staggering the announcement to your list over several days is often a better strategy than doing a big bang. This gives you time to experiment with content and interact with more members. Also, it’s better to have a trickle of new members into an already active community than a tidal wave of members into an empty community.
2. Be present. If you’re not spending a ton of time in the community, you’re going to see a lot of your early traffic bouncing. Until you hit critical mass, make sure every new members is personally welcomed and that all questions are answers. No discussion should have 0 replies. If you’re too busy to do this, hire a part-time community manager or make sure you enlist help from colleagues.
3. Link it. One of your top sources of new members and traffic will eventually be search engines. A link from your home page or blog will ensure that the community gets crawled by search engines. Good community SEO gives you that positive feedback loop where more content gets you more members and more members gets you more content.
While there are more than 3 items on your launch checklist, focusing on these 3 will ensure you’re off to a good start.
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