Community Strategy Insights

The latest insights on community strategy, technology, and value by FeverBee’s founder, Richard Millington

An Online Community Case Study: LeanIn.Org

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

As a new community getting a lot of attention, makes for a good case study.


Community Concept (needs specific purpose and activities)

The community is for women who want to pursue ambitions and change the conversation. This is a good community concept. The community has a specific audience, a strong topic, a clear type (community of action). The purpose lacks a concrete goal. It’s not clear what will happen in the community.


Registration Process (needs to drive to the next action)

The benefits here could be stronger. They lean towards passively receiving information.


It would be more powerful to use “find people who can help you and your career”. This is an active benefit. Members have to participate to receive it.

Offering simple registration by Facebook and e-mail is simple. The post e-mail registration system is going to be increasingly important for younger audiences.


Post-registration Process (guide towards the key converting actions)

The immediate post-registration page should guide members towards the key converting actions. What are the immediate next actions that help convert a newcomer into a regular? It’s not going to be liking a page. It’s going to be an active contribution to the community.

However, the post-registration process drives people to like the page on Facebook as the next step .


You will never have the audience’s attention more than you do at the moment they join. Liking Facebook is understandable, given the movement is founded by Facebook’s COO. However, this is a relatively weak action.

This should be something significant, but not too difficult. We usually achieve the highest conversion rates when members participate in a self-disclosure discussion within 15 minutes of signing up.

Introduce yourself is often difficult to complete (we struggle with the fine line between being boring and arrogant). For LeanIn, I’d make them participate in a circle group close to them (or start their own). This promotes an active commitment to the group.

Alternatively, let members highlight what they want to achieve in their careers and what they think they need to get there. This would be a powerful discussion.


The logged-in landing page (spotlight positive activity you want to encourage)

The landing page is a mess of information, upcoming activities, and multiple campaign efforts.

It’s not clear what members are supposed to do in the community, nor what will happen in the community that will help people achieve their goals. There is a lot of content, but none of this content is about what members are doing.

We can improve this by giving greater priority to the interactions between members and the achievements of the different groups. In addiction, the call to action is to start a circle – but this is relatively buried within the site. This should be it’s own core graphic at the top of the page.

Better yet, ask members to enter their location when they join and force them to either start a circle or join an existing circle to get started. Limit groups to 12 members (scarcity).

The content should focus more heavily upon the success of each group. Create a sense of co-opetition (yes, it’s a thing) between groups. Let each group’s success drive on others to replicate and top the previous success. Have successful case studies lined up and let the others adapt.

Circle Sub-Groups

The MightyBell platform isn’t highly conduicive to successful communities. The process of finding or joining a circle is simple, but you’re not guided to these actions. You’re not nudged to do the actions which would most benefit the community.


The biggest problem is most circles have no meaningful activity. There are individual posts from members. However, in the 20 circles I visited, none had a sustained discussing taking place within the community.


This makes the entire movement look bad and uncommited.

We would recommend an Area51 system. Members can create groups in a staging area and receive all the support they need to make the group a success. Dead groups are worse than no-groups.

If a member wanted to create a circle, they would first have to find 12 people, initiate and sustain a meaningful level of activity, and demonstrate a meaningful output (one member asked for a raise!).

Instead of creating circles, we might advise members to find a circle close to them and apply to join (or be on the waiting list, so non-active participants can be removed). The notification feature to remove non-participants would be a powerful motivator for members to keep participating.


LeanIn is a community with a huge prospective audience, a powerful concept, and an important idea of breaking the large audience into smaller sub-groups. However, the danger is the movement fails to begin because too many of the sub-groups are inactive or not facilitating a meaningful exchange of information.

If you want to master the social science approach to building successful communities, sign up for our Professional Community Management course.

Registration is open now. The course begins on April 28th.


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