Believe it or not, launching your online community is the easiest part of the community-building process. What actually takes a lot of work is creating and maintaining long-lasting relationships with your members. This includes developing engagement strategies, content planning, and community moderation.
Online communities offer so many exciting possibilities for your brand and business that some people leap in to it too fast without a clear purpose or destination. When that happens, it’s easy to fall prey to common mistakes that ruin your community’s success, or even end it prematurely. To prevent that, we’ve compiled a list of common pitfalls that you should definitely watch out for.
Not having a clear, definite goal for your community is a sure way to fail. Your goals determine your game plan for handling and managing your community. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish through your community before putting in the resources and time to build it. Some organizations want to increase brand awareness and brand recognition in a competitive industry. Others use communities as a way to improve their relationship with customers or get customer feedback. Whatever your organization’s priorities are, it’s important to have community goals to serve as foundation for your content, KPIs, and strategies.
It’s not enough to get members to sign up to your community. Of course, you also need to keep your community active and vibrant. Members need to be interacting with it constantly, publishing content, and connecting with each other. On your part, this means investing extra time and resources to create engaging content that will encourage participation among your members and increase retention rates. If people come to your website and see that the feed is empty or there’s nothing new, they’ll lose interest fast and may not bother visiting again. Don’t let that happen to your community, and check out our tips on how to build community engagement.
Another reason a community would fail is because it doesn’t have a community manager or it has an ineffective one. Your members should always have a point person they can go to. Naturally, they’ll have questions, need help, get into debates, or even post inappropriate content. You need to be ready to deal with all of these potential problems.
The community manager is the best person to maintain a safe environment for all members, and facilitate connections, discussions, and general activity in the community. It’s especially important that community managers start new members on high energy and keep their momentum going by giving lots of direction and prompts, inviting them to events, offering help, introducing them to others, and celebrating their wins.
Community moderation can be very tricky. Not having any rules and regulations can turn the online community into a negative space, where some people feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or reluctant to participate. On the other hand, not allowing any negative or off-topic comments can also be unhealthy for your community. It just shows that you have a very limited set of moderation guidelines or that you’re not respecting their freedom of speech.
To avoid making members feel unwanted or causing unnecessary conflict, community managers should establish a clear and straightforward moderation strategy. Typically, this includes the basic rules of posting and the parameters for deleting inappropriate comments or posts, sending out warnings, and finally banning troublemakers.
An online community is basically a hub where people can find value in sharing conversations. It gives people a safe space to ask questions, form connections, and belong to a bigger group. So naturally, managing communities means a lot of warm introductions, intimate networking, personal and professional discussions around relevant themes, and mentorship. It’s all about building relationships, and obviously relationships take time and effort to develop.
Creating a personal connection could be something as simple as a nice welcome message, a thank you comment, acknowledging your most active members, asking for their feedback, or featuring posts. It’s also important not to distance your brand too much from your members’ conversations by sounding like a corporate voice or a marketing specialist. Instead, speak in a more friendly and relatable manner. Once you obtain a good number of loyal and happy participants, your options for benefiting from your community become much greater.
Most online communities don’t need fancy technology, but they do need technology that works, so choose your platform carefully. When looking for a community software, check if it can scale with your growth and can be customized according to your needs and brand guidelines. Choose a simple and stable solution that will facilitate what’s most important in your community — user interaction and communication.
Our company, Beam.gg, makes community management easy by providing tools to track, manage, and moderate community activity without complicated manuals, downloads or installations. It’s quick to set up and easy to integrate with existing websites, allowing brands to launch an online community within minutes without writing any code. Beam.gg also comes with built-in gamification features such as points, leaderboards, and rewards that automate and encourage member participation. Check out our available plans.
Of course, it’s good experience to learn from your failures, but it’s definitely going to cost less to just learn from other people’s mistakes. So keep this list in mind throughout your community-building process, and stay on the path to success!