Open vs. closed community


(Ingrid Peters) #1

Our community is a fairly new one, we’ve been live for about 6-7 months now. It’s an open community of practice. We started small and are now working on extending our reach. One of the ways we are doing this is through Google campaigns.

The campaigns have been running for a month now and we see a lot of new visitors but also a high bounce rate. This last one doesn’t worry me that much, since the average time spend on the site is fairly good and we have returning visitors. However the number of new members is low, one to be exact.

My marketing colleagues are convinced we should change from an open to a partly closed community for us to gain new members. Where, for example people can read an article and have to sign up if they want to read more, or they have to sign up to download a white paper.

Personally, I do not want to close off our content. I want to make sure people join for the right reasons. But I do want to have the right mechanisms in place to find new members.

I’d love to hear you thoughts on this!


(Richard Millington) #2

Hi @ingridp,

This sounds like you probably launched a little too early i.e. before there was a big demand for it before you had hundreds of people eager to participate in it, before you had a lot of influence in the sector to persuade people to join etc…

Which isn’t terrible, it’s pretty common. As a result you’re trying to make it up with paid advertising and not having too much luck. Paid ads can work, but it’s an expensive way to grow a community.

Having a partly closed community might get you more people to sign up but then what? As you note, you need people to join for the right reasons. You will also lose any Google juice.

So my take is probably three-fold:

  1. The community concept isn’t right. It’s not catching on the way it should. You probably need a rethink of this at some level.

  2. You need to invest HEAVILY in building relationships with the target audience. This begins at the micro one to one level. Find your founders. Build relationships with them etc…Show up at relevant meetups and conferences. Schedule dozens of coffee dates.

  3. Get a good search technical audit.

  4. Use FB ads rather than Google ads (if you’re going down that route). We’ve generally seen better results with FB ads.

  5. Give people a reason to refer others etc…What are you asking members to do? Why would they share the community and invite others to join?

Good luck.