Online Community Lifecycle. What Stage are you in?
Online Community Lifecycle
Wondering how to effectively grow your online community? Do you need to foster engagement, while keeping tabs on member activity and data? Start with inception!
Inception -- Establishment -- Maturity -- Mitosis
When starting out building an online community one of the first steps is inviting members to join. Establishing a base of users is important because that initial momentum will snowball until your community enters the next stage. Proving valuable information and engaging content is key to keeping members involved in the community. This phase focuses mostly on drawing members into your new online community.
Remember to be friendly and not to pressure people to join.
The best members will want to join willingly, and be excited to receive an invite!
How to Start Your Online Community
Start by promoting your new community on similar groups on social networks. You must be actively recruiting members by meeting them where they already engage with content.
Drive users to your platform by developing engaging content. Be knowledgeable of the kind of content your community already likes and engages with, and provide similar, but more in depth or first hand experience in your content.
Build relationships between members by asking questions, initiating discussions and even by hosting online events.
As your community begins to grow, you will enter the establishment phase. This phase focuses on
a) growing members
b) building activity among members.
When your community is beginning to reach a critical mass, you enter the establishment phase. Here, your activity growth is between 50% and 90%. Activity is generated by members and thus your responsibility as a community manager shifts. Now, your job will include some of the same steps as the inception phase, because you are still growing your user base, and some new steps to keep them actively engaged.
Growing your community is important! Remember to feed and water them with content, relationships and keep track of the growth!
How to Establish
See How to Begin steps 1 - 3 above
Isolate key members (you can find them by seeing who participates the most)
Engage with key members
Recruit volunteers to help moderate the community or create online events
Collect and analyze data
Resolve any disputes between members
Your community is now beginning to operate on its own. Discussions are curated by members, and your role shifts from being an active recruiter, to focusing on your current members. From isolating your most valuable members, to analyzing your member data, now your are going to be deep in member
Now you are entering the maturity phase. Here, you will focus on your members, their data and developing sustainability.
Once your community has almost reached the point where 100% of activity, growth and content is generated by members, your role is to make sure it will be self sustaining. The most important part of this phase is being able to analyze your members metrics. Here metrics will help you scale, optimize continue to develop community.
How to Mature
Establish a referral system
Guide the community
Recruit and train volunteers to take over specific aspects; volunteers can work on growth, content, discussion, relationships and events
Focus on macro-level wins that develop long term
Causes / fundraising
Continuing educational opportunities
While this can be considered the last phase of the lifecycle, it is also the beginning of the next community. At this point, your community should be self-sustaining. Sub-groups will begin to form and more involved communities will develop. While not all communities will develop to this phase, many will, and you need to be prepared if your community does.
Growth during this phase should be consistent, but also growth of the smaller communities will begin because they will be in the inception phase. Your role will be to expose the new sub-groups to the already existing main groups.
This is very similar to the inception phase above. Part of a community manager's job is to designate roles for the new subgroups. People will need to manage data, invite members, and create content.
Like the inception phase it will be your job to identify topics that your subcommunities will talk about, engage with and spread.
This is where your community will cycle back to the inception phase. Your sub-group will start with inception and grow from there.
With the right strategy, you can watch your community grow from one main group to tons of sub groups!
Original Article Source - Feverbee
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Written by Christian Britto
Christian is the Operations Manager at rasa.io
We created rasa.io because we fundamentally believe that up to now, the approach most associations take to online community building has been far too narrow. Networking, resource sharing, and Q/A are just a part of the online community experience, so we created a platform the puts member engagement where it should be - at the heart of your association’s community.