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Erica Moss
Erica Moss

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How to migrate communities to different platforms

As a community manager, you may be tasked with building a community from the ground up. But what happens when you’re tasked with moving an established community to a new platform? This scenario presents its own set of unique challenges, one that requires a community manager to remain in lockstep with both internal teams and the members they’re supporting.

I found myself in this very position at Atlassian, when we hypothesized that the Slack community where most of our Trello users were congregating wasn’t the ideal solution for the community at large (primarily because of limited searching capabilities and best practices existing behind a wall).

The logical place to migrate them was an existing space on the Atlassian Community, a spot where people were already asking questions, but we had not intentionally fostered community. Here, they would find Q&A, discussions and long-form articles, but to get there, we needed to do our homework first.

Here are a few takeaways from our process that ensured everyone was on the same page and invested in the move:

We assumed nothing and asked about everything. As I said before, our community instincts told us that we were losing a lot of value by having a bunch of knowledge-sharing that wasn’t visible to Google or those who were simply browsing the Atlassian Community. But if our research proved that this was the ideal tool for our users, it wouldn’t make sense to move them somewhere else.

So we scheduled calls with our top contributors in Slack to hear directly from them about their habits, anything they felt was lacking in their experience, and what they might dream up in an ideal community environment. What we heard was that members care about three things: product announcements, access to the Trello team, and getting quality answers to their Trello questions was paramount. Direct messaging (a key differentiator between Slack and the existing space in the Atlassian Community) wasn’t a requisite part of that experience, which gave us confidence that moving them to a new platform wouldn’t be highly disruptive.

We established a communications strategy with members at the forefront. Giving folks plenty of runway to both process our move from Slack and capture any data they wanted to take with them was an important part of this process, as was giving them time to get set up and familiar with the Atlassian Community. For us, we decided a month and a half was a sufficient heads up, and, therefore, all of our messaging was structured around that timeline. We used the #announcements channel to deliver the information, and invited any concerned parties to reach out to me directly. We also leveraged the Trello blog to unveil “Trello Community 2.0” and bring everyone along for the ride.

It was also necessary to inform our internal teams that this channel was going away, as many had gotten used to popping into Slack to distribute surveys, recruit users for focus groups, etc. A company-wide presentation during our Town Hall was the best way to deliver information about this change to the masses, and we focused on the logic behind our decision, the value add for members, and how team members could best utilize the new space to achieve their goals.

Periodic reminders after one month and then one week before we planned to shutter Slack ensured that no member was caught off-guard or left behind.

We incentivized our members to migrate with exclusive content and prizes. Even with a great deal of established trust in our community, as a community manager, it’s important to answer the important member question: “What’s in it for me?” To encourage folks to join us in the new space, we scheduled an “Ask Me Anything” session with the co-founder of Trello in the weeks following the move, and introduced an exclusive badge, the “Friend of Taco,” which was earned after engaging in certain activities in the Atlassian Community. To sweeten the deal, we also offered free Trello Gold and Taco plushies, because swag is always a strong motivator.

We kept a close eye on sentiment and activity in the new Trello space. While it was difficult to track who transitioned from active Slack users to participants in the online community, we were delighted to see a 28% increase year over year in unique visitors to the Trello collection. The “Ask Me Anything” garnered 27,125 views, 88 comments and 21 likes, and to date, almost 100 people have earned the Friend of Taco badge. “Cute badge! And encouraged me to check out the Trello community. Did not realize there was so much helpful content here!” said one member.

Moving forward

The work doesn’t end once you’ve successfully moved a group of humans from one spot to another — it’s a continuous effort to educate your internal teams about how best to engage with your biggest cheerleaders in the new space, and to give those members who so graciously followed your lead new reasons to keep coming back.

Have you ever moved a community to a new platform? How did it go? I’m happy to answer any questions you all may have as well!

Discussion (2)

mac profile image

"We assumed nothing and asked about everything." Such a great line that applies to most of community building, not just switching platforms.

lvrsnfrnds profile image
Samy (he/him)

We wanted to move our community forum from Discourse to Circle, not very easy. This would mean asking our members to re-signup and move the posts/threads from Discourse to Circle.