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Any tips for a newbie CM who inherited a very passive community?

Hi! I'm new in the community industry and I've been interested in the community business since last year, so I considered myself lucky when after my internship for a startup company I was offered the role as a community manager (which was an opportunity that I was so eager to grab). The startup is over 1 year old and building a strong community for the company's product is one of their priorities.

I'm not their first CM and for over a year they've established a "community" BUT there are only 2 members who are regularly active. We're lucky if we get 5. The previous CM used two platforms to engage with the members. 1) Google Chat for sending announcements and prompts and 2)WhatsApp for members to interact with each other. Honestly, I think everything is all over the place and I'm pretty sure the first members who joined the community have developed a habit to automatically ignore the updates/notifications (though they remain in the group so maybe there's still hope to get their interest back?)

I have a lot of ideas based on what I've learned from Community blogs/books but I don't know where to begin. I definitely want to use another (and much better) community platform, but is it better to focus on the engagement first and THEN move to another platform? I'm afraid the members will really abandon us for good if we do the latter first.

Any advice/tips would really help this fledgling.

Top comments (3)

rosemaryoneill profile image
Rosemary ONeill

Hey congrats on your gig and welcome to the wonderful world of community! I'd personally start by talking directly to those few active members and find out what their needs are. What are they looking to get out of the community, and what would give them even more value?

If you can get a few of those "quiet" members to talk to you, that would be fantastic too. The more you can give those members a sense that they're helping to build something, the better.

I'd do all of this before moving to a different platform, but I 100% agree that it would be better to pull together into a single cohesive space going forward.

jenny profile image
Jenny Weigle

Hello Bree! I second what Rosemary and Max have said...It's incredibly important that you start off talking to those engaged members, preferably 1:1 because you'll get the most valuable info that way (plus I'm sure they'll appreciate the attention from the Community Manager). Then, use the info from those talks to start working on your new strategic plan. You're in a Re-Imagining phase here, so start over. Create fresh goals and plans for the community. Once your plan is complete, and you have a better idea of what you want to accomplish, then you're ready to start evaluating platforms. It's better to have your vision fully in place so that you can evaluate the various platforms and which would be the best one to execute your vision/plan! Wishing you all the best!

maxpete profile image
Max Pete

Hey Bree!

Congrats on getting into the Community industry and getting a job, that is super exciting! Another member @ananoronha just recently posted in the Forem asking for the tips, so I wanted to link you to the post here as well:

I'd highly suggest joining the Community Club Slack (let me know if you need an invite) and reaching out to some Community Managers to connect with them 1:1 for advice, insights, etc.

I also am reading David Spinks "The Business of Belonging" and recommend it as a good read for community building. Let me know if you would like to chat more about this, happy to chat!

Lastly, I am going to tag a few community members who I feel like would be able to offer a lot of good advice here.

@jenny / @rosemaryoneill / @brianoblinger / @jeph