Just launching a community and seeing what happens doesn’t sound like a terrible idea. You learn quickly and can pivot fast.
1) You only get one chance to make a great first impression.
2) If you choose the wrong platform, you’re sabotaging your community efforts.
3) If you have a bad community concept, you’re going to struggle to gain any activity.
You can spend months trying to unpick errors made in trying to launch a community quickly.
I’m always nervous about client projects which want to “build the strategy while developing the community”.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything while undertaking your research. You can be testing a lot of different community ideas to see what gets traction.
- You can use Twitter to test different topics and hashtags.
- You can host live events and promote them to your audience and see how many people show up.
- You can work to build relationships with the audience and see how many are receptive to you and your ideas.
- You can invite members to share guest posts on your website.
- You can create content and see which formats and topics are most popular.
All of these things are part of the early community-building process but don’t commit you to any particular technology, topic, or approach to building a community.
They can quickly identify what does and doesn’t work best.
So if you’re feeling pressured to ‘just launch it’, try launching a bunch of tiny tests instead.