How to Tackle Community Building's Most Common Challenges
When entering the world of community building, starting from scratch can seem like an impossible task. It is a multi-faceted role that many find overwhelming. Community leaders face a variety of challenges when starting out. Some of the more common ones are:
- Not knowing what their community will provide. Some people know they want to start a community but get stuck when asked what value they can bring to this community and how it will directly impact their brand. It’s important to ask oneself those questions before making the decision to launch a community.
- Choosing a platform. With so many options out there, it can get overwhelming to find one that works for their needs. Keeping followers or potential followers in mind and the value that will be provided for them will help make this decision.
- Seeding the community. Finding people to join is one of the hardest things when starting out. Knowing where the audience already lives is key.
- Engagement strategies. Post-launch, some communities take off right away while others don't gain momentum fast enough and have trouble finding ways to keep their members coming back to their platform. Having these details worked out before launch will save a lot of stress.
Given these challenges, it can be easy to make mistakes. Trial and error is part of the learning process, however, there are some common mistakes that both amateurs and professionals can be aware of to stay ahead of the curve.
- An undefined target audience. Without a target, it’s very hard to figure out how to find ideal community members, how to keep them engaged, and what content to provide for them to really receive any ROI.
- Lack of engagement. Community growth will not happen if the community leader does not engage with not only the potential community members but the current ones as well. Retention will help growth and definitely facilitates the trust factor that needs to be built in order for a community to run efficiently.
- Not listening to feedback. At the end of the day, it’s growing a community of people, so if a manager is building programming or new features without asking the members what they need - chances are there won’t be a great response when the plans get rolled out. People join communities with the expectation that they will be supported - how can a community builder know if they are truly supportive if they don’t ask?
There are many different parts to community-building and especially in the beginning, it can take time to seed and get conversations flowing. Here are some tips on community-growth and retention to help get you going:
- Leverage other communities when focusing on finding your first few community members. Collaborate with these communities to co-host events or offer their members a discount. This will obtain direct access to the people to attract.
- Find ways to make members feel special. One of the most important retention tactics to keep a community coming back is to recognize them - showcase them on the platform, find ways to reward them and let them know they are being listened to.
- Engage, engage, engage. Engage with potential members, engage with current members, engage with potential partners. Personal outreach is the most effective way to develop trust and build genuine relationships that will turn into loyal community members.
Community-building requires skill, patience, and creativity but can be incredibly rewarding when done efficiently. Engaging and relationship-building will require a lot of personal outreach, and while it is work, those two things are very important for the success of a community.
Fortunately, there are people who can help. If you feel like you may not have a lot of time, hiring a community manager to execute some of the connections and facilitate conversations can help moderate the flow. If you feel stuck on how to grow and engage your community, hiring a consultant to help develop a launch strategy, keep your members feeling engaged, supported and heard, is highly recommended and you will see growth and retention rates increase and of course, almost immediate ROI.