We all have gone through this as community builders, but who could get as lucky as Mr. panda? Maybe people who get to read this can be. Wanna be lucky? Just dive in and know what this week's C3 holds.
A community is not something that’s built in a day, just like how Rome wasn’t built in a day. Rome stands pompous and tall because of the strong foundation a team of folks laid for it to become one of the world’s most sought-after attraction spots. Similarly, a community needs to lay that foundation during the initial days of community building.
This week’s C3 is all about community builders discussing the foundation laid to raise the community empire. In this process, we also explored and unraveled the struggles we generally face while building community in the initial few days.
A community is defined by the culture it sets and the members it has. Our panelists this week put forth intriguing apprehension about how the initial days of community building look like.
Valuable people with valuable insights
Ankita Mishra - India Community Manager at Progate
Vineet Nandan Gupta - Community Strategist - Scaling your Business with Community | Growth Consultant | Podcast Host
Azhar Shams - Growth & Community Enthusiast | Microsoft Azure Kudos Badger
Vijay Math - Project Manager, Social Media Services, Sprinklr
What involves in the initial stages of building your community?
No matter what community you build, a few things remain constant when it comes to community setup. Here is what we heard from the community enthusiasts and builders.
Vijay: “To have a purpose and goal are crucial, and to know your audience who align with them is even more crucial.”
Vineet Gupta: “People + Purpose + Community Guidelines can be the formula for you to follow when building a community. Understanding what you are building and why you are creating. This will for sure help you sustain the community in the longer run.”
@Ankita: “Acknowledging a good platform according to the needs of the community is something to concentrate on. Another essential value a brand should note is that “ Evangelize the purpose of the brand and not the brand” while building a community.”
@VaralakshmiDwarakanath: “What value do you want to give to your community? This is one of the crucial factors for me when it comes to community building. And, the community is a two-way street; you get more than what you give. But, initially, giving has to be more which happens to be the anchor to build that trust and eventually contributes to being at the receiving end of value created.”
@Azhar: “Having a greater goal - a goal that benefits the community members. There can be other smaller goals, but there has to be a greater goal that put’s the audience first. This constant goal or greater goal will be the north star for your community.”
@Deepak910k: “We all tend to expect results at a 10x rate, and to suppress this tendency is quite challenging; that is why you need to have different metrics at different stages for each of your goals. So, setting the right community goal is very critical when you are building your community.”
1. Purpose, Who the community is for
2. Community Guidelines + Platform to choose
3. Mission and Vision (Short-lived goals and Greater goal)
4. Setting the right goal
5. What value do you want to create for members of the community?
Knowing what you are looking for will help you know where to look for it. So, the next steps should be where one should put their efforts in the first 30 days?
Where should the efforts be for the first 30 days?
Focus on content creation so that users don’t come to an empty community
Make people feel welcomed and safe
Plan how co-creation can be encouraged in a community to break stranger land feeling
C3- Constant Connect with Conversation to break the fear of judgment
Plan for effort initial activation tactics. Like, Polls or ice breakers
Collaboration, activating, and experimenting
Lowering the barriers for the members by creating safe space and a sense of belonging
Work towards setting culture and tone with strong yet amicable community guidelines and, of course, via content and activities you plan for your community.
Set expectations right for all the stakeholders of the community right
Work on your messaging. Make sure you have solid messaging, and that reaches all the community members.
But what if these don’t work out? What should one do?
Statutory Warning: Community Building is a mindset. If you don’t have one, do think when starting your community.
Panic is inevitable in such cases. But, keep one thing in mind, you are building something that will help your brand sustain itself. You are building a community of advocates who have been by your side, shared your values, and understood what you have been giving. Whenever you panic or doubt, here is a story that should help you keep your spirits up.
Story of a lunatic dancer!
A lunatic dancer went to a crowded street. He starts making these funky moves; everyone stares at him. A stranger who saw him dancing decides to make his moves along with him. This eventually made others also join in and dance. In the end, everyone started dancing.
The hero of the story is the second dancer!
It’s not the lunatic dancer who is important. It is the second person who starts to dance. He is the one who broke the idea of lunacy. It’s super, super time-consuming, but it’s all worth it when others begin to dance. When someone asks your story of building community, don’t you want to say how amazing the journey is? It’s about the journey here and not the destination.
This story goes well with the initial days of building community.
When you start building your community, it always looks like it is just you. We cannot expect everyone to dance along with us in the beginning. We both should enjoy dancing in the first place. They should like our song; we should ask if they like the song. Then you may see one or two hummings to the tune; a few may join to click pictures; a few others will join in clapping hands, and few others will actually start dancing. As a community manager, you should be constantly motivated and keep the environment dance-friendly and amped up with music.
Setting culture and tone is the most crucial thing- When you dance, the culture you are setting is a fun environment. But, you may be particular about the kind of lyric you don’t want to dance to. So, guidelines help you maintain the culture you are setting.
Challenges are our 1st priority - What challenge of a user are we solving via community? A space to dance free-spirited? Who and what can solve bigger challenges later in a community with the community. This paves the way to the inclusion of members, creating bonds and stronger relationships among peers. This is directly proportional to building a foundation for a stronger community.
What do you do if things are not going as planned in the initial days of building community?
As quoted, community building is a mindset. But, we can always have a framework and a few indicators to check if the community is working for you as a brand.
1. Azhar - Replace demand and supply with members joining and reciprocating (demand), and you are sharing content back into the community (Supply). Here, there is a red flag when supply is more and demand is way too less (This does not have to be synonymous with a number). But, it is not a red flag if this happens in the beginning because no one wants to come to an empty community. If demand does not build over time, then your efforts are either in the wrong place, or your brand does not need a community right now.
2. Vineet - Did you start your community in capturing value? But what about creating value? Creating value is an absolute GTC (Go To Community) strategy. When you give more value, they will eventually bear the fruits of those values and give them back to the community. To get that result, it takes efforts that are consistent in nature. So, ask this question if you feel your community game has not picked up for a while.
3. Ankita - For a brand community, OKRs matter a lot. OKRs will help you take your community forward. And, this is because you set what you want to achieve through this community. Your efforts should be directed towards those OKRs monthly, quarterly, etc. That will definitely help you keep the needle moving in a community.
A guide for the brands in community building
Be prepared - Community is a mindset, and it takes in a lot of commitment, time, and energy.
Divide and Conquer - Build your community from small to big. Go for a cohort-based approach.
Your ROI - You invest in creating value, and your return on investment should be value in return (Ranging from retention, activation, adoption, member growth, brand awareness to loyalty)
While understanding the early process of building a community from scratch, we listed down and specified a few engagement triggers.
Please make sure they are in a safe space.
Brands can make content and events to create a community inside a community that has an extended bond.
Building your inner circle first is significant.
Cohorts based on user persona and segmentation will help in building or initiating engagement in the community.
Empathy has to be there.
Being approachable is crucial and at the same time, creating opportunities for others to speak up is equally important.
Never make rules but share guidelines.
It is certainly time-consuming, but know where your efforts should be
It is similar to sowing seeds and waiting to harvest for a sumptuous meal
What you reap depends on what you give
Set right goals, culture, and expectations clearly and work towards it
Well, this conversation was long due. The initial stages will be tougher than you expect, but it is important to wait, observe, learn, and give to the community. If you are customer obsessed, you want to create value constantly, and when your customers understand the value, then there is nothing going to stop the growth of your community.
Have you been checking out Community & Cold Coffee? C³ is an initiative to candidly bring community professionals or enthusiasts together to discuss the Community ecosystem, methods, techniques, etc. No agenda is our agenda. Community & Cold Coffee happens on all Saturdays at 2.30 PM, which means you can hop in at 2.30 PM on Saturday and chat your heart out about communities.
NOTE: Don’t forget to bring your Cold coffee :p