What to do when you are told to start big?

(Lilo) #1

Hello dear fellows,

I hope everyone is okay.

I have been recently hired to create an online community of users in the educational sector.

I wanted to start small - by contacting the founders one by one to learn about their interests, pain points, and to see what kind of content & added value we could provide. I’ve been doing customer research, and creating a community strategy with the actions for each step BUT today I was told to create a massive number of groups to start the community.

It absolutely breaks my plan, as:

  1. I won’t be able to learn about all the customers that they want me to invite to the community
  2. I feel that starting this way is gonna ruin our chance to have a great community, as there will be lots of groups with no interaction - no engagement…

What advice would you give me in this case? I’ve already talked to my manager and explained him the reasons why I think we should start small but they say they want to do it this way…

All advice are much appreciated!


(Bas van Leeuwen) #2

Have you asked your manager why he wants to do it this way?

Or if you want to be a bit more confrontational: ask him what his reasoning is to go against industry best practices. :simple_wink:

  1. Start small. Ignore the big launch brigade. Big launches never work. The successful communities you see today started small. Focus on the first 50 members, then 150, then try to add 5 to 10 new members a day. That’s a few thousand members per year – far more than most communities have. Start small, keep costs low, focus on flickers of activity. Put in the time with each individual member.

From: https://www.feverbee.com/basic-principles-of-building-online-communities/

(Lilo) #3

Yes, Indeed I’ve asked why and the answer was “so we can have lots of groups for new members to join - think big”. They think just by creating groups and inviting users (without nurturing them), users are gonna join and start creating relevant and remarkable content… :confused: .

What I’m gonna do is to create those groups they want me to create, but I’m gonna focus on my intial plan: starting small, so I can apply my research to the groups & the members I want to be the founders of the community -

I’ll keep you updated. Thanks!

(Bas van Leeuwen) #4

Ask them why they hired you.

Seriously, are you there for your expertise, or are you there to type and click stuff?
They want you to be the community manager, right?

Think big, by starting small.
Just send them the article I linked you, that is Richard Millington, one of the most renowned Community Managers in the world telling your boss that he’s making a classic mistake.

Otherwise feel free to suggest hiring any of the many community consultants (including myself of course). Whoever he hires, will tell him exactly the same :smiley:

(Kristen Gastaldo) #5

So long as you don’t have to do a big launch and invite 1000s of people at a time, you might be able to keep your plan intact. If they want you to create a bunch of groups, that’s just platform changes. You can still start with a small group of people, figure out their needs and wants, and facilitate connections. If they don’t end up using most of the groups you’ve created, can you archive them in the space? We’ve got tons of categories in my community, but I find people peruse by most recent - the number of categories hasn’t hurt or helped us IMO.

(Pablo Corral) #6

Seems a smart approach. It’s a good idea to try to reach an middle-ground agreement on this. For example, you can create groups, but show him that empty groups discourage participation. If the community is not growing, change to your original plans.

Please keep up updated! :slightly_smiling:

(Sarah Hawk) #7

I am in total agreement with everything that has been said so far, and I have one thing to add.

If you can’t get management buy in (which is a larger issue) then you can still focus your own energies, but make sure you track your links so that you can support your work with hard data.

You can use Google Analytics campaigns to create trackable links. More info on that here and a link building tool here.

(Tashina Combs) #8

I completely agree with this. Do everything you can to track your work with data.

(Lilo) #9

Thanks @Bas_van_Leeuwen, I’ll start by focusing on my small groups anyway. @Kristen_Gastaldo , I will start by inviting just a small group of customers to the groups, I don’t want to ruin our chance to have a good community with a first bad impression. Regarding if we can archive the groups, yes we can, but at the beginning is gonna be slightly different as we won’t have open groups to start. I will keep you posted with the progress.