If you’re a community manager who is thinking about re-launching a community, you likely already know this is the type of project that is best done with collaboration. Talkbase Friends Community hosted a panel discussion to explore experiences and tips from top community builders.
This discussion was actually prompted by a discussion some of us in the community were having about re-launching, and wow, it’s a hot topic. We decided to bring the conversation to a more open forum because many of us benefit from this collective style of growth.
Below, we’ve outlined many great insights from our discussion to help you to successfully relaunch and grow your community.
Featured on the panel:
Olga Koenig, Community and Content Manager at Codility, and
Lia Mladenova, Community Manager at Artivive
We’re going to break down what was covered during the discussion, read on for tons of insight and wisdom that will help you with your community from community operations to events.
When to Re-Launch or Shift a Community
Things move fast when it comes to communities, until that is, when they move painfully slow. There are some key indicators that tell you when your community needs to shift. Generally you figure that out when you listen to the individual members of that community.
When Lia joined her community as community manager she knew it was time to relaunch because things were shifting online. She saw an opportunity for their large user base and explored the idea of bringing it online.
We needed to make a change to relaunch the community online. It was to freshen things up, create new inspiration and it made a lot of sense for a large international community. It was easier to build it online and felt like the right thing. People saw the value it was to be part of the community. - Lia Mladenova
Communicate With Your Community Members
Olga explains, “We simply try to call a group of people a community, but if they don’t have anything in common it doesn’t work.” She shares about her realizing the community needed to change, “It didn’t work, people were not active and they were less and less involved. They didn’t care. It’s impossible to be truly engaged with something without meaning.”
So, how do community managers help their community find meaning? Listening to the community is an important first and ongoing step. See where people are getting stuck, what needs improving or why people disengage. For Olga the community is always about the people, her goal is to create the best experience from onboarding through to the experience. People want a feeling of impact and to be surrounded by a group of people they trust. The goal is both easily identified and a difficult one at the same time.
Community goals are all well and good, but community managers navigate between what might be great for the group and making sure it aligns with the company's goals. These types of projects do require internal buy-in. We discussed how taking a transitional stepped approach can help with this and also show supporting data along the way.
“The role as a community manager is extremely important to understand the community needs, and to make sure it transfers to overall needs. There is value in having the community on the platform and they experience the value in participating in it.” - Lia Mladenova
With all this in mind Lia explained that her main goal was to create an intimate and trusting space, the one the community thrives in.
Internal buy-in and being open to receiving help are important for Olga when it comes to relaunching and growing a community. After exploring all the pros and cons of making changes to the community, Olga discovered taking it one step at a time would be the best approach She brought in another community builder and up-skilled through training that helped a lot. What really worked though was that Olga built with her community, not for them. She invited the community into the planning through brainstorming sessions. Community buy-in offers a lot of weight.
It Takes Courage
Olga shared that one of the biggest challenges she faced was her own fear. She said, “My perspective was that community managers don’t re-launch or they don’t talk about it. Getting over the fear was important. I focused on the people and the transparency that supported the project.”
There is a certain courage required to shift plans along the way too. Lia understands this as she’s had to let some ideas go for other ideas to grow. “Community managers really love our jobs and to serve the members.” Lia went on to explain, “Sometimes people don’t have the same capacity to be so involved, and I had to say no to certain things because even though I wanted to do them, it didn’t work for the community.”
The Re-Launch Plan
Our panel discussed the steps involved in re-launching or making changes to the community. Here is a list of items that support a successful re-launch.
- Set Team Goals
- Communicate with the group members
- Ask members if they want to stay in
- Survey members to learn what would support them
- Collaborate in one to one, and even group settings
- Research other communities for best practice ideas
- Plan and outline content
- Evaluate tooling
- Listen and shift along the way
The above list may feel like it’s missing something but during this panel discussion, our speakers all had one thing in common. A hyped relaunch was not part of the plan.
In our industry there is a tendency to make a big relaunch and announcement. It’s not bad, but for us we implemented it slowly and step by step. The small changes had an impact. - Olga Koenig
Lia also shared a transitional approach to announcing the re-launch. There were gradual changes to the media channels. A mention in the newsletter, a post on social media. The community began to clue in that there was something happening, and it attracted members to engage.
For community managers developing spaces for other people, Lia shares her favorite quote that she comes back to time and again. “Get over yourself.” Lia says, “It’s not about you.”
August 2, 2022
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