Has anyone merged two communities?


(Liz Crampton) #1

Has anyone successfully merged 2 communities?

My org’s currently merging with another mental health non-profit/charity and we both have online communities. I’m struggling to find much research/literature on merging out there on this topic.

With high platform and moderation costs (as we’re both mental health communities), it’s certainly cost-effective to merge communities. In terms of mission, it’s compatible as we’re both mental health and peer support (although one focuses on depression and one on mental health more generally). However, in terms of culture/rituals/brand/tone etc, we’re pretty different.

What are the kind of questions you’d be asking if you were tasked with this?


(Sarah Hawk) #2

Interesting one! I’ve strategised this a couple of times but neither time did it actually come to fruition, so I have thoughts, but no direct experience.

  • What does the new community actually look like? Is it one sub-community (ie depression) within a bigger community (general mental health), equally balanced sub-forums or is an entirely new architecture necessary?
  • Does one sub-community need to migrate platforms? If so, how will the existing members be on-boarded/oriented?
  • How will it be branded?
  • What will the management structure look like?
  • Are staff goals and agendas aligned? If not, how will that be addressed?
  • Will community guidelines and documentation need to be rewritten? Who is responsible for that?
  • What is your communication strategy?
  • Are your strategic directions aligned? If not, how are differences going to be addressed going forward? Who has ultimate responsibility ?

(Marjorie Anderson) #3

In 2015 we transitioned our community model into a different one because the model we had was outdated and no longer served our members. We happened to acquire an organization the previous year that already had an existing community so that is where we transitioned our model to, as that’s what made the most sense. Not sure that’s it’s really the same thing, but I would ask the same questions @HAWK has listed in addition to a couple that immediately pop into my mind:

  • What does the content strategy look like?
  • Is the way in which members are engaging in either community drastically different or about the same?
  • What gaps need to be filled to prevent duplication of efforts?
  • Is there a volunteer structure/champion program in either community that needs to be realigned?

Hope that helps!


(Liz Crampton) #4

Thanks @marjorieandersonpmi - good call re. volunteer/champion program.

Thanks @HAWK - as always! Both pretty similar to the thoughts I’ve been having, so that’s reassuring.


(Liz Crampton) #5

Hi all,

We’re making progress but still planning how to align the two communities.

I’m thinking in the short term of setting up phone calls with both communities’ key influencers/active members to discuss how they’d feel about merging communities and how that might feel. Also thinking an online survey to each to get more information around what aspects of each community they really value and would want preserved (in terms of functionality etc).

Any other ideas or community managers who have managed aligning two communities? Or maybe that made a decision to keep them going separately?


(Rebecca Braglio) #6

Hey Liz
Obviously it depends on your relationships with these members, but I might be careful about how you phrase it on that phone call - I wouldn’t ask them how they’d feel about merging the communities - I’d ask what they like/dislike about each one like you talk about in the survey Only because you don’t want to set off one of them going back to the community and starting any backlash. Or, I’d wait until you have the results of the survey to then call them and ask for their help in getting on board.

If the merging of the communities is ultimately a business decision, you don’t want to let them believe that they actually have more of a say in it than they really do - if that makes sense?


(Liz Crampton) #7

Totally makes sense @rebeccabraglio , that’s something I’ve been juggling with myself. I think I need a bit more clarity from the top on how much flexibility we have and how directive to be. Really important to be transparent about that I think. Thanks for your thoughts!