How Can You Promote Your Online Community?

It sounds like you just have built a new online community, and you are excited to launch it. 

An essential aspect of a successful launch is demonstrating the value of the community and making it easier for members to get involved right away.

So how do you get the word out about your new online community? 

In this article, you will learn: 

  1. Cons and pros of owned and free online community platforms
  2. 4 launching ideas 
  3. 5 steps to launch a successful online community 
  4. And many more…

Cons and Pros of Owned and Free Online Community Platforms

Despite their apparent similarity, there is a major difference between a social network and a community platform. 

Free Online Community Platforms

The fact that it is free and already has a following is a major plus. If you put in the legwork, you can set up an account, generate content, and distribute it to your followers for free and in simple ways. 

However, you are subject to the judgments made by host companies regarding how your material is presented to other users of the platform. Plus, there are times when the content algorithm changes, and you are obliged to adjust your strategy to keep your users engaged with your material. It has happened before.

If you decide to use free online community platforms, a few options to consider are the following: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Slack, etc. 

Owned Online Community Platforms 

Owned platforms like Backspace might also be a part of the equation. All the advantages of a social networking platform are available here. The good thing is that you have far more control and flexibility over connecting with your members. 

Like a free community, an owned online community has both advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to the audience, you will be starting from square one this time around. Ownership of your community gives you greater control over your brand message, but until people find out about it, you will need to do a lot more promotion than you would on a free platform.

Read more: Pros and Cons of a Free and Paid Online Community

4 Launching Ideas 

As mentioned above, demonstrating the value of the community and making it easier for members to get active are critical components of a successful launch and the development of a long-lasting community.

Here are some ideas you can do to successfully launch your online community: 

Publish Promotional Materials 

Your audience may not be as enthused as you are about the upcoming launch. But, once you tell them, they will be! 

In the lead-up to the introduction of your community, educate your members on the benefits of being part of an online community and encourage them to look forward to taking advantage of this exciting new resource.

Do a Soft Launch

Despite the temptation of throwing open the doors to the entire community at once, consider growing your community gradually at first.

Start with a low-key or soft launch before going all out. Identify a small group of people you can rely on who have a strong sense of community and are committed to seeing it flourish. Dialogue grows when you start with a small group of committed individuals.

People who do not have any prior knowledge of the community can immediately join in the conversation because the VIPs or Beta group members have already established the foundation for the community. Your hand-picked VIPs have already created the framework, so they do not have to worry about how to act or begin the conversation. These members of the community have the potential to grow into future "super users.”

Organize a Virtual Event 

Even if your event is a virtual one, it is a terrific opportunity to educate your audience about your community.

Creative thinking and an understanding of your organization's culture are essential if you want to have the most impact. Incorporating your community launch into your virtual event is not as simple as picking a single strategy that works for everyone.

You may organize a raffle for community members who have contributed to well. Raffles and prizes are not a long-term engagement strategy, but they can be helpful if you are trying to get people interested in your community. You may also organize one-on-one tutorials to teach users how to use the platform.

Community Adoption 

The initial buzz surrounding the launch of an online community is not the end of it. You need to keep promoting so that members of your online community will remain active. 

You may want to create a formal community onboarding process, ensure that frequently asked questions are consistently updated, and provide channels for members to seek support. All of these things can be done to encourage community adoption.

5 Steps to Launch a Successful Online Community 

Amazingly, 76 percent of individuals who use the internet are also members of some online communities, and 66 percent of those who join online communities say they do it to connect with others who share their interests.

With this in mind, here are the steps you need to take to launch a successful online community: 

Step#1: Determine your “Why”

When you establish your community with a distinct objective in mind, you allow yourself to strive toward a particular vision and construct something of the utmost benefit to you and your audience.

Asking yourself the following questions can assist you in determining your "why":

  • What do you aim to achieve by initiating the formation of a community?

  • What do you hope the people who become a part of your community will gain?

Step #2: Soft launch 

In the development of any new product, creating a prototype is crucial.

Invite a limited group of beta testers to be the first members of your community instead of launching it to the general public immediately.

This beta group can become brand ambassadors that initiate conversations and teach newcomers the ropes once you open your community to a larger audience.

Step #3: Provide full details of the community 

Do not overlook the little things that significantly impact your members' satisfaction.

Make sure you are establishing an environment where everyone feels comfortable. You can manage what happens in your online community, even though the internet is a chaotic place.

Before allowing access to a broader audience, develop community rules and a moderation strategy. Rules for your community clearly explain what kinds of behavior are and are not permitted.

You may avoid unwanted conduct by creating a welcoming environment and establishing clear rules. Maintaining a high level of discourse in your community is facilitated by this.

Active moderation is essential for retaining members of your community. Learn how to use your online community platform's reporting tools and decide if extra moderators or community managers are necessary.

Before your big launch, you need to think about onboarding. Make the experience of joining your community as welcoming as possible for new members.

Welcome new members and explain how your community operates with a "start here" article. New members are eager to get involved as soon as they join a community. One of the best methods to get your followers involved is to post, "Start here."

This article or post can also include your community guidelines and how-to guides, which are wonderful to teach how to use your community platform.

Furthermore, a dedicated introductions thread allows users to introduce themselves and build a sense of community within your group.

An introductory thread invites new members to post their first message without worrying about what to say or where to post.

Step #4: Create a content sneak peek 

You are on your way to a successful community launch after completing the first three steps. It is time to tell everyone who might join your community just how grand this launch (and your community in general) will be.

You do not have to reinvent the wheel to advertise your community effectively. Promote your community launch through existing channels that are effective for your brand and your audiences, such as email, social media, or word-of-mouth.

We also advise you to set up a landing page in advance of the launch of your community so that potential members may find out more about it. Explain to them what your community is all about, why they should join, and how they might do so shortly.

Make it clear why your audience should join your community and give them a taste of what they can expect on launch day by sharing a sneak peek at your content and highlighting its benefits.

Keep potential members informed about the opening date of your community so that they can join as soon as it becomes available.

Step #5: Official community launch 

It is finally here: the day of your community's official launch. Thanks to all of the marketing you accomplished in step four, individuals eagerly joined the virtual launch.

Because of the time and effort, you have put in, do not allow your launch to fall flat.

Create a fun event for your new members to participate in based on their interests.

You do not have to limit yourself to a single day to achieve your goals. Consider putting together a schedule of interactive activities, material, and events for your community's first week or month of operation.

More importantly, it is essential to realize that you do not have to have everything figured out in the first day, week, or month. 

As a content creator, your path is unique. Take risks even when you are not entirely sure of the outcome of a new idea you have come up with. If you do not give it a shot, you will never know. If you have any questions along the way, Backspace is here to help.

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