If you want a successful community launch, you need a huge number of people ready and eager to join the day your interface is live.
If you’re planning to start an online community in April. These ideas might help.
April: Laying the foundations to become a community member.
- Identify relevant online communities and key people.
- Launch an industry blog.
- Introduce yourself to two people bloggers/influencers per day.
- Start a database/spreadsheet of people you have permission to speak to, record the conversations you have and when the next contact will be.
- Interview key influencers for your blog.
- Learn the unwritten rules of your target audience (i.e. begin writing them down for yourself).
May: Building relationships that matter.
- Use existing resources/assets to help biggest influencers/connectors. Don’t ask for anything in return.
- Starting a mailing list for people you feel want to be a part of something/make a difference in the industry. Invite them to join.
- Continue e-mailing 2 new people per day. Make sure each e-mail is unique and tailored to the individual.
- Create a technological profile for the average member (what technology do they use? Why? On what platforms are they most prevalent?
- Pick the 3 most important communities and begin participating in a range of issues.
June: Cement friendships, involve the client, plan the interface
- Ask for advice on what people would want from a community. Use as much of it as possible to design your community.
- Arrange an online or offline event for members to be involved with. Invite special VIP guests to give a webcast/speech.
- Continue e-mailing 2 new people a day.
- Compile your research and approach your company/client with your recommendations on what they need to do to build a community.
- Agree business constraints/resources and create a list for the community needs.
- Involve web teams/agency to design the community interface.
- Host a best of series on your industry blog featuring the best posts from the top bloggers.
- Invite your most enthusiastic contacts to test the community.
- Ask them to invite 1 friend to try the interface.
- Design a rewards program for members that discover the community early and seed content.
- Launch your online community.
A few notes here. The client-side work is extremely more complex than detailed here. Finally, spending time on developing these relationships always pays off when you launch. Always.