Change management - how to tell your community you're transitioning to a new platform?

I need to help crafting the initial message to my community about the upcoming transition. If anyone could share examples of communications they used or have seen, I would really appreciate it. I’m also trying to figure out how many additional posts I need to have about this as well.

My current site will expire at the end of the year, the site will be down ~1.5 weeks (not ideal but unavoidable), and there’s a target go-live date the second week of January - so I have a 2 months to work with. I want to post my initial message next week, and plan to post a demo/walk-through video for a “first glimpse” of the new community in mid-November. Other than that, I need to figure out what other tactics I need to ensure a successful change management strategy to external stakeholders.

If anyone has any advice or lessons learned or would be willing to share their approaches, I would be extremely grateful.

Thanks!

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In my experience, your core user group will return no matter what, and you can take advantage of the situation to reawaken users who have become dormant.

I’d recommend using the migration to introduce new features, and give your users something to look forward to. Especially if you happen to be adding gamification, you’ll have a great opportunity to create “legacy member” badges.

Bottom line:

  • Inform your users constantly - be honest
  • Deliver the new product on time (or a day or two early)
  • Showcase your new features and drip feed them during the downtime so users get excited
  • Use the switch to wake up your dormant users through emails or DM’s off the old platform
  • Give your loyal members something special for sticking with you
  • Be patient - you may not recover all your traffic in the first week, but if you continue to serve good content, and your superstar members return, the others will follow when they need your content again.

Good luck, I just went through something similar, and it is a very stressful situation. There are a lot of people watching, and your most loyal members will be keeping a close eye on you too!

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I don’t want to reveal too much about the site I work on, but this is the main portion of the initial email we sent when we went live again:

Check Out the New & Improved XXXXXXX – Get Free Stuff!

XXXXXXX, the first and only online meeting place for XXXXXXXXX has just been overhauled, serviced and repaired to be even better than before. As one of our most active members, we want you to be one of the first to check it out.

Because we’ve made some changes, you’ll have to set a password for the new site. It will only take a second, and we promise, it’s worth it. Click here to change your password.

And, when you arrive at the new XXXXXXXX, you can enter our contest to win $1000 worth of new tools !

Here’s what’s new:

List new site features here

We did not send out an email to members about our new site. There was no downtime (other than a brief DNS changeover). Hopefully, this will give you some ideas on what to do.

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This is interesting, I’m not generally a fan of emails that offer rewards, free stuff, and use click-bait to attract attention. It feels like a downward slope. If it works well for you though, go for it.

I’m more keen to connect with the people who care most about the community and have an open, engaged, discussion with them. Invite them in to take an early look, get feedback, invite any concerns etc…

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Oh, without a doubt. In my case, my top members were all personally invited and were an integral part of the launch. They settled in nicely and provided good feedback and some bugs we had missed.

I wish the promo/free stuff/click baity wasn’t needed, but it has traditionally been a proven way to increase responses. In follow up emails for members who did not activate on the new site, the focus moves towards content, telling them about the great discussions they are missing out on.

@ejs1026 here is an initial announcement that I made a few years back prior to a huge migration

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Love the title of Galactic Overlord LOL.

  1. Explain Why - Explain the problems of the old problem and how the new platform addresses it.
  2. Explain New Benefits - Explain additional and new benefits that the platform brings.
  3. Project empathy - Change will be hard for a certain segment of your users, so you should include language that is empathetic, understanding, but still firmly pushing them.
  4. Be Available - Let your users know where they can read / follow the latest updates for your sites. Most members won’t care, but for your most active Superusers, they’re going to be naturally curious and to desire “first-to-know” status.
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