How To Kick Start A Community –an Ongoing List

One of the top 10 questions in social media marketing asked is “How do we kick start our community?”  This post aims at providing some resources for brands that are preparing their community strategy.

The old adage of the field of dreams isn’t true -if you build it–they won’t neccesarily come. Brands must have a kick start plan to be successful with their community. Below, I’ll list out some practices I’ve heard from companies that have had successful communities, and I’d ask you chime in and add more ways, let’s get started, I’ll be as specific and actionable as possible.

How to Kick Start A Community

  1. Create compelling content on a recurring basis. Brands sometimes create videos, podcasts, or stories on a daily or weekly basis that encourages members to come back.
  2. Reward users who fill out their profile. Folks like to see other friendly faces, so giving them access to premium features or recognition of those who have the most complete profiles should recognized.
  3. Invite community influencers and advocates to the community first –giving them first right of testing the system and then inviting others.
  4. Encourage interaction through conversations. Ask questions, talk about controversial topics, or host a contest that encourages participation.
  5. Reward top contributors: Those that participate the most, or perhaps, are the most helpful should be recognized on a leader board, and thanked in public.  Unexpectedly, send them something nice as a thank you, or reward them with premium services –never money.
  6. Centralize your community around your real world events.  People want to find each other before events, talk about the event during the duration, and then afterwards are key.  Use the community in your physical events.
  7. Virtual Events integrate community:  Don’t just use on your real world events, but integrated with your virtual ones, I‘ve written at length about that here.
  8. Integrate with your website –and other customer touchpoints. Remember, corporate sites of the future are aggregations of community discussion, be sure to integrate community in your corporate site.  Make sure your call center, email marketing, and external newsletters all integrate community.  (don’t forget even the email signatures)
  9. Encourage employees to get active.  A party isn’t much fun if there’s no one there, so encourage the hosts (often employees) to kickstart discussions by talking, debating, and arguing about the news, updates, or even relevant YouTube videos will trigger discussion.  Of course, you have a community manager on staff, right?
  10. Leave a comment below: Whew, I’ve rattled off my best, now over to you.  Leave a comment with your tip.  How do you kick start a community?

I’ve also signaled to some of the vendors in the community platform space to chime in –giving them the chance to strut their knowledge.  Also see tips from Connie Benson, Shout Em, and Keenview.