The work for creating a thriving community starts way before launch day!
From getting key stakeholders onboard and creating member personas to preparing promotional materials and beta testing, here is everything you need to consider before launching your online community!
Six Months Before the Launch
Some organizations jump on the “community bandwagon” without really answering two simple yet critical questions:
- What is the goal of this community?
- What business need or issue is it going to help me solve?
For your community to succeed, you must create a compelling and comprehensive business case for it—detailing how it will support company-wide goals. This will set the foundation for everything that comes after.
Three to Six Months Before the Launch
Now that you have a compelling business case for your community, you need to collect information on your audience and its core members. This information will guide your community’s business goals and engagement strategy.
To get started, describe your ideal members.
Not everyone in your audience will have the same reason for joining the community. Use the information you have gathered on your ideal members to segment them based on goals, behaviour, challenges, job role, etc.
Next, ask your the best way to reach out to each segment and communicate your community’s value.
After that, define what each segment’s user journey looks like. In other words, what parts of your community will each segment visit first?
With this information, you can minimize the time to value ratio for your members so that they experience value from the moment they sign up to your community.
For example, if you know that a group of members will be more interested in your community’s events, redirect them to the event page when they sign in. Perhaps another group will be more interested in the jobs board or forums, in which case send them there!
Fail to answer this question and your community manager will spend most of their time running after members trying to encourage adoption as opposed to engaging members.
One to Three Months Before the Launch
Working with your Hivebrite Implementation Specialist and Customer Success Manager will enable you to get the most out of your community engagement platform and set you up for a successful community launch!
Start your online community with only the most relevant platform features. You can add more features as engagement builds, the community grows, and members’ needs evolve.
In the run up to your launch, create anticipation. Leverage your personal and professional contacts to spread the word of your community and its official launch date.
For your community to blossom, you need to assign a community manager(s).
A community manager’s role can vary depending on the type of community. The job usually entails:
- Content creation and curation
- Engaging members: starting discussions, responding to questions, connecting different members...
The community manager needs to have a clear strategic view of the community roadmap and the role the community plays in the wider organization.
Bear in mind that for a community to reach its full potential, Community teams need to collaborate and coordinate with other business teams in the organization—especially Marketing.
One Month Before the Launch
A community mission statement and community guidelines are essential documents for your community.
Your community mission statement explains your community’s purpose and the value it offers members. It ensures both you and your members understand the goal of the community and helps ensure you attract individuals aligned with your mission.
Your community guidelines help you create a safe and supportive environment—an essential ingredient for a successful community. They outline how members should behave,what is allowed and what isn’t, as well as the consequences for breaking the rules.
Onboarding is essential for integrating new members, making sure they get the most out of your community, and inspiring them to take an active role. Consider welcome email series, Q&A webinars, a dedicated newcomer space in your community, and a buddy system.
Create a feedback loop with your early adopters and power users. This might help you uncover details that you didn’t think of and enable you to fine tune your strategy and content based on the needs of the community members.
This is your big day/week/month—everything that you've worked for is going to be put to test on your launch day.
Get word out to your target audience that your community is live! Levage your existing online presence to promote your community: create social media posts, a banner on your website, an email signature, etc.
More likely than not there will be an unforeseen detail on your launch day. Make sure your support team is on hand for any eventual issues. Ask your team to keep their eyes and ears open to glean as much feedback from your newly joined members as possible.
One Month After the Launch
Your launch is complete!
There are most likely individuals in your target that have not yet activated their profiles, did not receive email invitations, or simply did not care to join. Make sure you take the time to put into place a strategy to encourage these people to become active members of your community!
Nurture your active and engaged members with your engagement strategy.
As your community grows, so should your strategy. Be sure to regularly check-in with your members to ensure that the benefits your community brings are consistent with their needs. Update your engagement strategy as necessary to ensure you consistently provide value and grow your community.
[Webinar Replay] How GovCon Club Successfully Launched a Membership Community in Record Time
Watch our one-hour webinar replay with Go-To-Guy Timberlake, co-founder of GovCon Club, a membership community to drive federal contractor success, and discover how he successfully launched his community with Hivebrite in an impressive two weeks.
Hivebrite is a comprehensive and flexible community engagement platform. It empowers organizations of all sizes and sectors to launch, manage, and grow fully branded private communities. Schedule a demo today!