A reader asked this week why I spend so much time in the minutiae of community when there are bigger strategic battles to be won?
Almost eight years ago, I was brought in to review the strategy of a struggling community of investment professionals.
The strategy seemed good, the platform was ok, but very few people were engaging with one another.
The problem lay in the subject line of the outreach message, the contents of the message, and how the community manager was engaging with the few who did join.
For example, the subject line (“OFFICIAL INVITE: [BRAND] COMMUNITY”) felt like spam. The copy of the email began with:
My name is [xyz], I am the community manager for [name], the official community for [brand].
I am delighted to send you a warm invitation to …”
If your communications remind members of a spammy LinkedIn request, your audience will treat it like one. Worse yet, the link to join was buried in two hyperlinked words way down at the bottom of the email.
The email had an open rate of less than 7% (compared with 18% for the newsletter). The click-through rate was around 0.3%. Less than a dozen people were reaching the community each week. Not enough for a critical mass of activity to form to get this community started.
The entire time and resource investment in the community was going to waste because of a few simple mistakes.
We redesigned the communications members received and trained the community manager to better engage with members (much of this became the basis for the Psychology of Community course), the open-rate tripled and the click-through rate rose to 6%.
Better yet, we now had several hundred people arriving at the community each week. A critical mass began to form and the community began to finally grow. Aside from our consultancy fee, these mistakes cost nothing to fix yet turned the community from a failure to a fledgling success.
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t think they were good at engaging with their members.
Yet, the constant struggles community leaders face when trying to get and keep members engaged suggests there’s huge room for improvement here. Often the communications are riddled with things which have unintentionally resembled spam or upset members.
Too often, too much time, money, and potential go to waste because people don’t spend enough time in the weeds of what’s going on in the community.
That’s why the minutia matters.