Push vs. Pull Strategies To Community

The difference between push vs. pull is huge.

It’s the difference between creating a need and satisfying a need.

Push strategies are common in communities of practice and most private groups. You target a group of people who might benefit from engaging with one another and set about persuading them to do it. This work involves a lot of relationship building, outbound promotion, and working at the micro-level to stimulate and sustain the first flickers of activity.

Pull strategies are common in support communities. You have a lot of people with a need they want solved and try to get them to solve that need within your community. If you’ve got thousands of people with product questions, you try to get your community in front of them (typically via search, the homepage, or outbound promotional activities). This work is about scale, quality, and optimization of metrics that matter. It’s about internal relationship building to build the relationships which will make a community flourish.

You don’t get to decide which strategy you’re taking, your audience does.

If your audience isn’t already trying to satisfy an urgent, relevant, need, you need a push strategy. This means a low-budget platform, a heavy dose of relationship building, and fighting for every member.

If members already are trying to satisfy an urgent, relevant, need, you need a pull strategy. This means superuser programs, a premium community platform, and aligning everything to go on day one.

Be very clear from the beginning which approach you’re taking. Everything else hangs upon it.

p.s. It’s an extremely huge shock to go from a community with an abundant source of newcomers to one fighting for every member.

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