The Community Club

Sarah Greisdorf
Sarah Greisdorf

Posted on

Creating subgroups for a large community

Hi all! I work at a large tech company that runs a community for our professional users. We have tens of thousands of members and are exploring the possibility of creating "clubs" or subgroups for our members to connect more closely with smaller groups of members.

Does anyone have experience creating subgroups for very large communities? What have your biggest learnings been? How did you encourage engagement in these smaller settings for members used to larger forum settings?

Discussion (7)

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nityesh profile image
Nityesh Agarwal

Hey Sarah! πŸ‘‹πŸ½

I recently started doing a similar thing for the Dataquest community that I'm building. We have 25k+ students in our Discourse forum.

Right now, I'm experimenting by putting them in small subgroups based on their participation. I've created one such subgroup of Community Council - a group of highly active members. I'm also planning to create another one comprising of writers who have published an article in our online magazine.

My biggest learning so far has been to use a chat-based platform, like Slack or Discord, for these smaller groups. I've found that a forum with few people can feel too empty and cause people to not interact with each other.

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Sarah Greisdorf Author

Hey Nityesh! That's a really incredible insight about chat-based platforms. Thank you so much! Are you having folks opt-into these groups? Also, are you finding leaders for these groups or are you running them yourself?

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Nityesh Agarwal

Are you having folks opt-into these groups?

No. Right now, I'm just sending personal invitation to folks based on their participation.

Also, are you finding leaders for these groups or are you running them yourself?

Since we only have a couple of subgroups, I'm running them myself right now. I would say that I'm still in the experimenting phase for this. So, being hands-on will give me critical insights like what's the purpose of these subgroups, should we have them and the best practices for successfully running them.

My plan is to then compile those insights into some sort of a playbook, select a leader in the group and give them the playbook. The leader will also be responsible for inviting new members into the group.

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Rosemary ONeill

Have your customers/members asked for closer connection with affinity/peer groups? The scenarios where I've seen subgroups work best are those in which the members requested them. Splintering your activity into smaller spaces doesn't always have the desired effect if you don't have demand from members themselves. Of course all of this is predicated on your reason for the community...

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Sarah Greisdorf Author

Such a good point Rosemary! We do have a number of members seeking out closer connection with others. I think we have not equipped them very well at this point to do so. Definitely still in the explore/talk to members phase though so we will absolutely keep this in mind as we thinking about how we'd want to create space for these interactions.

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Kourosh Ghaffari

Hey Sarah! I've been experimenting with small subgroups for nearly a year now and I'd be happy to share all of my learnings with you. Overall I can say that subgroups create more engaging and safe environments for your members. BUT they are quite hard to nail. Just drop me a message if you ever want to get on a call:)

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Simon Tomes

Great question,Sarah. Thanks for asking. I don’t have the experience to share and I’m very keen to read thoughts from those who do.