Episode Thumbnail
Episode 22  |  47:44 min

Launch Your Community With A Bang, Without Sacrificing Staying Power

Episode 22  |  47:44 min  |  07.21.2021

Launch Your Community With A Bang, Without Sacrificing Staying Power

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This is a podcast episode titled, Launch Your Community With A Bang, Without Sacrificing Staying Power. The summary for this episode is: <p>Plenty of community managers have learned (the hard way) that a big community launch can cause the lightning in a bottle effect - Where excitement runs high initially, but quickly loses its grip. But does that mean we are doomed to slow roll outs and quiet pilots? And what do you do when your leadership team wants to launch with a bang despite best practices? Join this conversation to learn best practices for balancing the best of both worlds. Georgina (Cannie) Donohue will discuss how to craft a phased launch plan for your community based on battle-tested approaches and hands-on suggestions. Learn how to tap into your early advocates to seed the community, create a controlled environment to establish the ideal member culture, and still get to throw a launch party.</p>
Takeaway 1 | 02:36 MIN
What Does a Successful Launch Look Like?
Takeaway 2 | 01:41 MIN
Communities have Exponential Value, Instead of a Transactional One
Takeaway 3 | 00:37 MIN
1st Goal of Your Community Launch
Takeaway 4 | 01:44 MIN
2nd Goal for Your Community Launch
Takeaway 5 | 00:22 MIN
3rd Goal of Your Community Launch
Takeaway 6 | 00:35 MIN
4th Goal of Your Community Launch
Takeaway 7 | 04:47 MIN
Phase 1 of Your Launch Plan
Takeaway 8 | 07:07 MIN
Phase 2 of Your Launch Plan
Takeaway 9 | 04:17 MIN
Phase 3 of Your Launch Plan
Takeaway 10 | 03:14 MIN
Phase 4 of Your Launch Plan

Plenty of community managers have learned (the hard way) that a big community launch can cause the lightning in a bottle effect - Where excitement runs high initially, but quickly loses its grip. But does that mean we are doomed to slow roll outs and quiet pilots? And what do you do when your leadership team wants to launch with a bang despite best practices? Join this conversation to learn best practices for balancing the best of both worlds. Georgina (Cannie) Donohue will discuss how to craft a phased launch plan for your community based on battle-tested approaches and hands-on suggestions. Learn how to tap into your early advocates to seed the community, create a controlled environment to establish the ideal member culture, and still get to throw a launch party.

Guest Thumbnail
Georgina (Cannie) Donahue
Online Community LeadConnect with Georgina

Alex Mastrianni: Welcome to The Member Engagement Show with Higher Logic, the podcast for association professionals looking to boost retention, gain new members and deepen member involvement.

Heather McNair: Throughout our show, we'll bring on some experts, talk shop about engagement, and you'll walk away with strategies proven to transform your organization. I'm Heather McNair.

Alex Mastrianni: I'm Alex Mastrianni, and we are happy you're here.

Heather McNair: Welcome back, everyone, to another episode of The Member Engagement Show. This is Heather McNair, and I'm excited to share another session with you from our Super Forum 2020 Conference. Plenty of community managers have learned sometimes the hard way that a big community launch can cause the lightning in a bottle effect. Excitement can run high initially, you do a big bang, a big launch, but then you tend to see things kind of slow down. So one of our challenges is how do you get that big bang? How do you generate that excitement? But how do you keep it going? And there are many different theories about how you launch a community. One of them I've heard someone compare it to making risotto. For those of you who are cooks, you kind of keep adding a little bit of broth at a time until it absorbs and then you add another scoop of broth and keep growing it. Other people are big proponents of that big bang, go out with a launch. We found over the years that there's kind of a happy medium in there using both techniques. And Georgina Donahue with Pragmatic Institute has really nailed this technique, this kind of merging of the best of all worlds. And she's going to share with you how to craft this phased launch plan, how to use all these battle tested approaches, and tapping into your early advocates. Critical. You've heard us talk about that before. Getting them in there, engaging them, getting their feedback, seeding the community. I talked a lot about how no one likes to be the first one to a party, and really tapping into those advocates. So when you do launch your community to the general population, your general membership, that it already feels like a welcome space, the party is underway, conversations are happening, that it makes it much more comfortable for people just to jump in and be part of the conversation. Those people are also helping to establish the tone of your community, the types of conversation that you'd like to see happen there. So you establish that ideal member culture and you're in everything just kind of flows from there. It can help avoid some of those awkward conversations, awkward experiences that sometimes happen if you just do that big bang launch from the beginning. And you may have someone post something that isn't exactly what you had in mind for your community. So without further ado, I'm going to go ahead and turn it over to Georgina. And she can talk about kind of best of all worlds, how you still get to throw that exciting launch party, but you can do it with continued success.

Georgina Donahue: Awesome, thank you so much. Really glad to be here, everybody, and happy to chat with you about kind of what your launch looks like and how you can have a launch that really kind of goes off with a bang without sacrificing the staying power that you need to have long term success and kind of build habits and relationships in your community. So the first thing I want to start off by asking all of you a question. So I want to know, in your mind, in your kind of perfect scenario, what does a successful launch look like? And now most of the time when I asked this question, the answers I get often describe a successful community, but not necessarily the successful launch of a community. I often hear things like engagement, members, likes, traffic, all really fantastic things, but those characteristics and that focus correlates the launch with the top line community outcomes right, and it makes the launch responsible for an incredible amount. It's a lot of pressure for the poor launch, right? And especially because a successful launch is not necessarily an end goal in itself. It is the first step in a much longer effort to create deep, habitual relationships and a long term learning journey with your participants. So, when a launch is successful, it's an early indicator that you're off to a really great start, but it's still just your start. So when we're thinking about launches, the tricky piece is that you are so excited about your community, and you're so excited about what it has in store for your members. You've put all of this work into developing a community strategy, you have invested in a platform, you've hired a team, you filled your space with content, you made it looks so nice, and understandably, you really want to celebrate. And you might be tempted to launch it with a big, giant bag all at once. And the tricky thing about this is that your stakeholders are probably going to egg you on. They're probably going to be on board for that approach too because they're excited about the community, which is very important for you ad very important for them. They've made this investment, they're excited about it, they want everybody to show up at the same time and really whoop it up for. For your stakeholders, that's a familiar model. Because with many product launches, that's a fantastic tactic. Get your whole audience excited, really engage with the product, create a ton of buzz, and then sell the product with a big opening burst. The issue is, and the pickle that you can get yourself into is that your community members are not going to be able to fully grasp the value that you're offering them in one single day. And a community launch is not the same as a product launch. You're not trying to make a one time sale. You are beginning a journey of long term and habitual commitment. So not only do you need to do all the things that anyone needs to do to adopt a product in all the literal senses like logging in, filling out a profile, et cetera. You also have to get into the psychological, the onboarding in a way that builds trust, and accountability and commitment. And that's because communities have an exponential value rather than a transactional one. It's worth more in the end, most community practitioners will agree, but it really takes time to build. So what all of that means is that having a big launch party like that, a big bang all at once actually works against strategic launch goals. And what we tend to forget is that this is what a party looks like on the day after. After the big bash is over, everybody leaves the party, which means that they might come into your community and contribute a month's worth of engagement and participation in one big frenzy. But that behavior isn't designed to create habits or long term pathways, behavior pathways. So when you think about a party, what do you think of? A party is designed with a start time and an end date. At a party, you want all the food to be gone. And you want your guests to be really tuckered out by the end of it when they're kind of exhausted and heading home. And the party is designed to help people gather with those that they already know, as well as maybe bump into a couple new connections. But it's not designed to create terribly deep relationships. That takes a lot of time. And so it's certainly not the best vehicle to establish long term habits. So one way that I like to think about this is if you were invited to a party, think about being invited to a friend's house warming, versus being invited to participate in a bi- weekly bookclub. Just think about the types of the relationships that you would encounter in each of those engagements and each of those gatherings. It's really different. So ultimately, when we're thinking about how we go about launching our communities, it's often just a mismatch of goals versus tactics. And what happens is, your metrics start looking like this, you get this big giant spike, and then you absolutely have lightning in a bottle and it drops out from underneath you, which is a terrible reward for all of the work that I know community managers have done behind the scenes to make this a blast. And your stakeholders are upset too, because they don't understand what's wrong. And they think to themselves what's wrong with the community, mistakenly assuming that the community value proposition is incorrect or misaligned, when really it was just the launch strategy that didn't quite support your goals. Right? So what do you do about it? That's the big question. And that's what we're going to talk about. So first, you get really strategic. So let's begin by defining the goals of the launch itself. So the first goal that I always think about and that I recommend, is think about your foundation, the foundation of engagement. You are planting the seeds, you're laying the groundwork, you're putting together the tracks, pick your metaphor, whatever you want. But the core approach that you want to focus on here is that you need to create an environment to sustain community engagement for both your members and your stakeholders. You're using this launch to carve out engagement pathways, right? And then future members are going to be able to travel down those engagement pathways with ease. The second goal that you should think about is how do you create a space that is really intentional about community culture? Think about this like mixing paint on a palette. So let's say I wanted to mix up the perfect shade of the higher logic signature orange. I'm going to really slowly add drops of red and add drops of yellow, and mix it up until I get the perfect shade. But you would never throw every primary color into a blob and just hope that it turned out nicely. You want to be just as meticulous when you're thinking about your community culture. The goal should be to create really quiet moments of connection and new relationships as an authentic human being. That way, you can get really hands- on about promoting the tone and the culture and the behavior that you want to see flourish. You're probably thinking right now, Georgina, that sounds like an incredible amount of work. And it absolutely is. It's very labor intensive. So smaller groups of people actually make this work easier because it is really hands- on. And once you have that rock, solid core group who really understand the culture of the community, then you can start adding other folks to the mix. And by human nature, those newbies will be driven to assimilate to the mores of the larger group, and then you can steadily scale your member base. And it's not so labor intensive once you kind of move out of that phase. But what you want to do is you want to increase your members without losing sight of your core values and your purpose. So the third goal is all about scaling that member base. Because look, you could have the most fantastic psychological community cultural mumbo jumbo ever created going on under the surface, but you can't survive forever on just a handful of deeply bought in fans. You need members, you need more people to go in there. So the final goal of your launch should really be to mobilize both your kind of conversation and your networking efforts with your early folks to spread the word. And the best way I have found to do this is by giving your launch members, those folks that are kind of coming in and helping you found that culture, is to give them an aha moment about why the community is so fantastic. Because you know that the community rocks, but they need to feel it for themselves, and then they're going to go out and be a public advocate for you. So let's assume that I've sold you on the theory and the high level goals. And your next question is probably okay, great. Sure. How do I actually make that happen? So here, may I suggest to you a phased launch plan. What I'm going to do is I'm going to spend the rest of our time together walking through these launch phases and sharing some ideas for how you can put it to work in your community. So to do a quick overview before we dive in deeper to kind of each of these four segments, the first aspect of the phase launch is really to get some real human beings in there. You want low risk people to work with. So this one really leverages your co- workers and your peers who don't necessarily touch the community on a regular basis. You're just warming up. Second, you find your biggest fans and you invite them into your inner circle. Next, you're going to go out and you're going to welcome those industry cool kids, also known as thought leaders, and folks to diversify the voices in your space and just start to kind of build out some partnerships for your organization. And then finally, this is what I promised you, you do get to have a little bit of fun, but in a controlled and sustainable way, you have a launch party with kind of your softer grand opening. Before I move forward, I do want to offer just some quick context before we jump into the details of each of these four phases. So a launch is not a one day event, but it is a time bound activity. So it's the kickoff of your community and it represents the initial opening of your space. And I consider a launch to run across the span of about four to eight months, depending on really the scope of your community ecosystem. However, that sits within a larger plan, a larger context for building a new community. So the conversation that I'm going to have and that I'm going to focus on is about motivating people and encouraging thoughtful behaviors, introducing new members to the space in a way that sets you up for success. However, your community setup is a prerequisite for this work. So by time you're really stepping into the launch plan, you already should have designed your community, shout out to eConverse, if you need help with that. They're fantastic. And you also should have migrated any external content and curated your resources and other offerings in the space. So the launch plan kind of sits between that and your ongoing community engagement that will just kind of roll through the rest of your community's lifetime. Okay. So let's dive into it. The first phase that I'm talking about in the launch plan here is alpha and beta testing. This is really your phase one. And so once your team has fancied up the space to your heart's content, the first step is to get some outside eyes on it. And by this time, you've probably in here every day, you've probably been working on this for a couple months now. And what can happen is that you get so close to the project that it can be hard to see the areas that need improvement. So your primary goal for this first phase is to get some initial folks in there to stress test your space. And you also want them to offer the first round of kind of alpha and beta feedback. The other goal here is really education. And this is more of an unspoken goal, but I'm curious if you all can relate. Many stakeholders these days really believe in the value of community, conceptually. They understand how important it is, but they've never actually participated in one. They're not a member of HUG. They're not a member of their own kind of professional development community, on average. So that means that most of the time when you're talking to your stakeholders, and you're advocating for community, they just don't really have the anchoring understanding to follow along with you. It doesn't mean they don't support you, it doesn't mean they're not trying, it just means that you need to give them hands- on time in a community space. And that is an excellent way to offer them a crash course and make the opportunities of a community really self evident. And then, of course, the other benefit here is that asking for and then using someone's idea is one of the most sure- fire ways to build buy- in and add attachment and support to a project. So what you're going to do is kind of bring in these early folks and look for people that can can support that work for you. I'm just reconnecting my clicker, so forgive me. Just a moment. All right, on to the next slide. So when we're thinking about who are we looking for, who should you be reaching out to, to participate in this phase? Your goal here is to get some fresh eyes who are going to mimic the eyes of a new audience. So what you're looking for is peers across departments internally, and you invite them to come in and join. So you want people that are not directly working on the community with you. So you want to be looking at maybe your HR department, maybe your sales team, or your dev group, or any other folks that might be able to come in and offer a really fresh perspective. They know what the community is, but they don't come in and hang out there every day like you do. One word of caution here, you're wading into territory that could lead you into a political blunder. So my best advice here is to over- invite rather than under- inviting so that you don't have accidentally leave anybody out. So what are you going to do with these people? What are you going to do together? The verbalized goal here is really alpha and beta testing. You want to instruct your peers and co workers to go into the community, find bugs and squash them, evaluate the UI and the UX and make sure it's really intuitive and natural, and you haven't overlooked anything. Your job here is to make sure these requests are highly structured, really clear, and do not exceed more than an hour and a half or two hours worth of work. You want to be very straightforward about what they are getting themselves into. Of course, the unspoken goal here and the connected value is what we talked about before, that stakeholder education and the cross functional buy- in that happens as a byproduct of the direct approach. One thing that I really like to do in a phase like this is kind of a roleplay exercise for the folks that you're working with. So you might say, hey, you are a member who is motivated by X, and you came into the community to find Y. Now, take that lens, get in character and move through the community as if that's what you are here to do. And then give me your feedback about how that went. You're really kind of just imagining and imitating what the member experience might be when you do bring your kind of live community members into the space. All right, moving into phase two. This is the exciting part. And I think this is my favorite part of every community launch, this is the first time that real members of your audience are going to come in and see the community space. This is the very first time that people are going to walk in and see everything that you've done. It's also the beginning of the relationship of your tiered leadership program. So possibly the most important phase of the whole launch, you need to find and mobilize your top fans to help you found and establish the community. And this group is also going to do a little bit of beta testing as well. So kind of your internal folks are going to help you imagine what the member experience might look like and optimize it for their arrival. But here the rubber meets the road, and these folks are really going to help you figure out if you got it right or not and kind of course corrective more beta testing is needed. However, the primary focus of this group of champions is that they're going to help you seed organic conversations by posting to their heart's content. So the way that I always describe champions in the space is that, again, if you're going to host an event, if you're going to throw a party, even if you're going to have that book club, you never want your guests to come to an empty room. So what you do is you invite three to five of your best friends or your relatives to come a half an hour early. So that when you're kind of more general guests that maybe you're not as close or as comfortable with, when they arrive, they get to walk into kind of a space that's already populated. So these champions, these people, those are your best friends, those are your cousins and family members, those are the people that you're inviting to kind of come get the party started with you. And the relationships that those champions build among themselves, and of course, with you as well, are really the anchor for your community's culture. They set the expectations and the rules of the road so that when new members join, they already have a sense of the community culture. And beyond that, your founders are also likely to become your very best brand advocates. Speaking highly of you in their public channels, recommending peers of theirs to come join them in that space. So you really want to make sure that these folks are getting kind of the attention that you need them to. All right, there we go. So when you're looking for your champions, this is a little controversial. This advice that I'm going to give you is not always considered best practice, but I would argue it has its place here. So I think that when you're looking for these champions, you want to intentionally make it a high barrier to entry. Bringing people in for this kind of a program and offering them this kind of a title and a role is a big ask. These people have a job to do. So it's okay to really make everything leading up to it signify and align the weight of the role that you are offering to them. So a long application process here is okay. I think that when I put out the open application for people to apply to my champion program, I think the application took them about on average 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Which, of course, we were always told like, everything should be less than two minutes, it should be two clicks and then they're out and they're gone. Here, it's okay, because you want them to understand that this is a commitment, and you want them to display to you that they are willing to make that right up front. Because if you can't fill out a 20- minute application or survey for me, you're not going to be able to do all of the things that I'm going to ask you to do after you get into the program. So long applications are okay, vetting each participant before they come into the program, absolutely something that you should do. And we're talking a lot about this is a lot of work for them, this is kind of a big thing. So you have to make sure that the rewards that you have planned for them and the benefits and the prestige that you're offering is equally as robust as the requests that you make. So boosting the exclusivity and the premiere status of this role is a really great way to start out on that tone right away. And so one thing you can do is you can set a limit on the number of people accepted to the program. So only 100 people are ever going to get into this program, or only 50 people are going to participate here, whatever the number is that works for your community. So I'm talking a lot about commitment, and that really is the biggest piece with these folks. So you want to make sure that they understand the commitment they're signing up for. Don't be sneaky. Don't be like, it'll be easy. Come in and hang out with us. No. You want to be explicit about the amount of time required. Give the details on what specific actions you are going to expect them to do and define the term limits, if you have any. So we actually had each champion in our program sign a written agreement to confirm the relationship. It wasn't a contract, we're not sticklers for the rules either. But to really solidify what we were talking about, we have them sign a commitment to the relationship. So then, all right. We've we've got our folks, we've found the best people, they're all in the program, they're really excited about it, what now? What do we all do together? So once you have your folks, I like to bring them all in on the same day. And I like to have a live kickoff call as kind of a good way to get energy going and excitement up. And so they all come in, and then they all immediately start participating in a very structured program that is waiting for them. So you want to design this program way ahead of time, have it waiting for them, so that everything is designed to help you accomplish your goals you have in the space. And it is essential that you facilitate this experience for them, so that they will be able to spend all of their energy offering the support that you need. So like I said at the very beginning, this part is about hand- holding. It's a labor of love, but it's also labor intensive. So this is definitely a space to spend that energy if you have it. Definitely, it's worth the investment. So the way that I structured this, I gave an example on the side here was over a four- week period. So I set a series of challenges and requests for my champions to complete and have them start conversations in the community so that all of the content in the space was organic, and authentic and crowd sourced. And so for these four weeks, there was nobody in the community except for our champion program participants. And each week, I had a theme or a mission of what we aimed to accomplish as a cohort. And I was very specific about what I wanted them to do. So for example, go join a new group and make one new post there, add two comments to posts that were made by your peers, or please RSVP to one event in June and then make a comment about why you're so excited to attend. Really specific. And then following each one of those directives, we also listed a series of feedback prompts for them to kind of walk us through what was the experience like of going in and making a post. Did that layout make sense? Were you able to find what I laid for you? Does the curation actually save you time or is it just kind of wonky? So giving them those kinds of ad hoc in the moment feedback prompts is really capturing the emotion and the user feedback as it's happening to them. So here, I have some kinds of tips and tricks and ideas for you. And of course, these slides will be available, so I'm just going to highlight a couple of these. The first thing is a logo. I highly recommend a logo for this kind of a program. And whatever you choose to name it, think about, you could call them champions, you could call them advocates, you could call them ambassadors, or a leadership council. Whatever you call them, definitely make them a badge. Make them a badge, make them a banner. We use this badge in the community itself to identify them in discussions. So when a champion member makes a comment on a discussion thread in our community, you can see right away who they are, they're designated. We also use it to demarcate opportunities we've designed just for them. So champions only call or champions only promo code to this other industry event that we got together for you, those kinds of things. And we also designed that logo and that badge for LinkedIn. And we send each of them the image to display on their profiles. And we also wrote a little bit of copy for them in case they wanted to paste it into their feeds, so that they could announce their acceptance into the program and share their participation in this space, which, of course, is great for them. When done right, this should be a prestigious opportunity that they're really excited to accept. And then it's great for you, of course, because it's all word of mouth. It's all word of mouth, marketing, and building the excitement, and building those kinds of brand and community advocates. The second thing that I will share is, I really encourage you to consider writing handwritten notes. This is just a nice thing to do at face value. We've all learned it's kind of good manners to write a handwritten thank you note or welcome note. But also, in community building, this is a way to really remind people that as silly as it sounds, you're all real humans. All of this is happening online. Having a physical piece of paper, psychologically, is a lot more impactful than I think most people realize. And it's also a way to demonstrate and prove to your folks how seriously you're taking the relationship. So by having a letterhead made and writing by hand and pasting a stamp, you are really subtly displaying your commitment to them, which will increase their feelings of commitment to you. And then of course, the community itself as well. Okay. So we're going to move into phase three and talk a little bit about ambassadors. So these are your industry cool kids. These are your thought leaders in the space. And when you're thinking about bringing thought leaders into your community, there's a few big goals here. The first one is to diversify the voices in your space. Most likely your champion members, those are going to be more hands- on practitioners, most of the time. But in order to really have robust, tacit knowledge exchange in a community, you need both those hands on practitioners and your incredibly inspiring thought leaders. So diversifying the voices in your space is incredibly important. You want to go really high in the industry, and then also really at the hands- on tactical level too. The second goal is to get some cool kids. I know they tell you all the time in life it's not a popularity contest. But let's be real, when you see a webinar or a blog post or a LinkedIn profile featuring someone who's worked for one of those big names like Google or Facebook and Airbnb, right, you perk up. You're like, yeah, I do want to see how Netflix approaches community engagement. You want to hear from those folks. And it's important for you to entice your members with the chance to learn from people that they probably wouldn't have access to if it wasn't for you. If you can create a connection for them to someone who's kind of outside their purview or just beyond the reach of their kind of six degrees of separation, that's how you build a club that people are dying to get into. And then the third goal of this space with ambassadors is to start to really build partnerships with some of the kind of friendly, tangential organizations in your space. This can be a really great way to start kind of partnership and sponsorship opportunities for your organization at large. So when you're thinking about who might be a good ambassador, there's a couple things that you can look for. So I've already mentioned the logos, and definitely looking for big logos and kind of impressive voices that are well- known, well respected in the space is important. But you also want to look for industry veterans, people who have watched the subject matter of your community change over many years. You want that historical perspective of how were we doing this 20 years ago, and what does that mean for our future? You also want to think strategically about folks with really large networks, because of course when you have a good relationship with them, you'll be able to tap their network and kind of leverage that to support your own goals. One really good group that I have found here is authors. If there is an author in your space, they tend to be incredibly experienced subject matter experts. And they also are friends with a lot of authors who are also incredibly knowledgeable subject matter experts and kind of the network expands on and on. So authors are a really great opportunity for this as well. When you're looking for ambassadors, you want to choose carefully, because these folks are certainly a much smaller group than the other groups of people that you'll bring into your community. And I recommend that you have no more than 10 ambassadors, at least at a time. Maybe you have a one- year, two- year tenure, and then you kind of cycle in someone new. But at a time this is both a very prestigious role. You're highlighting them as one of the top subject matter experts in your community. And it's also a really hands- on relationship. So unlike the other kinds of relationships and phases that I've discussed, it starts as hands on and then gets much more scalable. Working with ambassadors by design is always going to be a little bit more hands on. And instead of expecting these members to just pop around the community and add value in an ad hoc kind of way, the better approach is to design really clear programming opportunities for each one of them in a customized and really pretty collaborative way. These folks are really busy. And that way, they know exactly what they're committing to when you ask them to participate. They can have a really clear picture of how many hours per month and what are your expectations, and how many posts, these are the kinds of things that they'll ask. And so giving them a specific program to be the ambassador of is a great way for them to know what they're committing to, and also it helps you as the community manager start to drop some anchors into your content and programming editorial calendar. So for the ambassadors that are in our community, each one has a program that they're responsible for. So one of them hosts this really fantastic monthly podcast that's designed just for the community. One of them hosts a regular coaching call where members can come up and get really valuable advice. And one of them does some pre- recorded content and puts a segment together that is then interactive, and so on. So they're all designed around the really deep value that these ambassadors can offer, but in a nice structured way. Okay. We're moving into phase four now. This is where we finally get to have a little bit of a party. And so this is the opportunity to have some fun. You have some sustainable engagement pathways in place by now. So your champions have been running in the space, your ambassadors are adding a layer of expertise there, and you've kind of set forth and reinforced your desired community culture. You got heavy hitters out in the world talking about how great you are on their external social channels. You're really starting to get set up. So now is the time for you to scale your member base. This is when you invite in your gen pop and welcome them into a community that's already bustling with some really fantastic conversations. So to really make things fun, consider inviting in a backlog of new members on the same day. Because then you get to have your little party, you get to appease the kind of stakeholder desire for a big bang, and you've got a really wonderful excited crowd that you can leverage to facilitate some really fun activities with. So one way to do this that I always recommend is to release an early enrollment or a waiting list into your network, maybe a month or so before your grand opening date. So then by that time, by time you open your doors for the very first time and kind of let general members sign up and come in, there's some pent up excitement that you get to enjoy and that your members get to enjoy. So things that I love to do at this phase is a community scavenger hunt, which is always tons of fun. And you can also tweak it in a way that teaches your members how to use the platform itself, especially if you've got folks that might not be totally digital natives or completely fluent in a community space. Networking opportunities, digital speed dating, and meet and greets and nice to know you's. Contests, exclusive content reveals, giveaways, all of that is part of it. And you want to kind of curate that and leverage those tools and kind of exciting opportunities in a way that's going to support the long term goals. I say that because I do want to remind you that all of those fun activities they have to be in service to your long term goals. You need to build habits, and relationships and commitments in order to sustain engagement. So an example of this might be instead of having a scavenger hunt, where a member could complete it in a day, try structuring it as a series of weekly challenges over the course of four weeks, so that members need to log in each week to participate in the next round in order to win. So everything you do, you're kind of looking at through the lens of habitual relationship building. All right. This is the final and very most important big, giant, mama jama advice I can possibly think to give you, bring your stakeholders along on this journey with you. It is absolutely essential that you give them a layout and a plan of what you're going to do, especially if you have kind of a highly structure phased launch plan like this. Because they're just going to be thinking about a product launch where it all just happens in a day. So you need to give them a plan of what you're going to do. Include your goals and why they matter. Define the targets, and how everybody is going to know when you hit those targets or not. Share your timelines of how long each of these phases will run. Are you going to have four phases to your launch plan, make sure they know how long each one is going to be. Map out your KPIs and share how they map back in turn to the organizational goals as a whole. All of it. Tell them early, tell them consistently, show them exactly what to expect, and point out the key indicators that they should be watching for along the way. Never forget that you know so much more about community building than your stakeholders do. So you want to make sure that they can really participate with you and that there aren't any surprises, and they can really kind of follow along and don't get left in the dust by accident. The added bonus to that is once you've laid out that entire plan for your stakeholders, all you have to do is do what you said you would. All you have to do is follow your own plan and you're kind of off to the races there. So in summary, I highly recommend you consider a phased launch plan as you are opening up your community. The first phase is an alpha or a beta test phase. You're building stakeholder buy- in, you're validating the design of the space, and you're definitely trying to squish out those big bugs or typos or errors that you find. Second phase is your champions, where you're building your super users. This is the birthplace of your super users. It's also where all of your organic content is going to grow out of. And then the extra bonus there is creating some social buzz and word of mouth. Third phase is ambassadors that are really important for infusing subject matter expert knowledge into your space as well as boosting some of the credibility and the pedigree of your community. Then finally, you get to have your grand opening. You're having a big party, but that's kind of the bonus. The real focus is pushing towards membership milestones, and really creating habit forming engagement pathways for your folks. So, that is all that I have for you today. I hope that that was helpful. It's wonderful to be able to kind of chat with everybody here. And so I will open it up for some questions. Someone says, tell me more about the champions. How did you decide how many you needed? And what did you include on the application? Really great question. And I'll try to buzz through it because we are right at time here. So for us, with the champions, we knew that we would need enough to really build all of the conversations we wanted. And when we were launching, I think we had close to 15 different communities, community groups inside of Higher Logic. So we needed enough people that could kind of specialize and have conversations about each of those. But we also wanted that group, ultimately, to be pretty exclusive. So we were thinking about how large we wanted the community ultimately to be. So in the end, we decided on 200. We put a 200 member cap on our founders program. And then in terms of the application, we talked a lot about why is this brand exciting for you? How has Pragmatic changed your career? Why do you feel passionately about participating in this community? What does community mean to you? We really were kind of thinking about high level, really kind of philosophical and altruistic components there. And we also added some practical questions as well like, how many hours per month do you expect you can dedicate to a program like this? So I hope that that's helpful. If there are other questions, I'm happy to answer them in HUG or in another format, but we are right at time. So I am going to wrap us up. But thank you so much for coming. It's been a joy to chat with you and I will see you all in HUG.

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