Inception -vs- Maturity

February 3, 2012 Comments Off

Some community managers trick themselves. 

They think their community is in the maturity phase. It's really in the inception phase.

Progress through the community lifecycle isn't dictated by the sole metric of registered members.

It's dictated by growth (number of members whom have made a contribution over the past 30 days), engagement (quantity of contributions per member), and sense of community (do members feel like they're part of a community?).

A community with 10,000 members and limited levels of participation isn't in the maturity phase, it's in the inception phase. 

You shouldn't be working at the macro level. You shouldn't be spending your time tweaking the platform, soliciting volunteers, going for big promotional hits, or trying to steer the overall direction of the community. This only works when you have an active, engaged, community. 

Your community has regressed to the inception phase (or never left it).

You work at the micro level. You initiate discussions and individually message a handful of members at a time to participate. You reach out to people and invite them to join. You focus on getting a few discussions going, then a few more. You organize an event or two. 

Over time, you begin to see activity pick up. Then you see engagement increase. Members build relationships with each other. The sense of community increases. Soon, you'll be in the establishment phase. 


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