I’ve struggled with building an online community since I had the “brilliant” idea in 2020. My journey was worth the work, but some of my clients and fellow community leaders really want a simple, streamlined way to build, launch, and grow an online community.
Recently I listened to Gina Bianchini’s LIVE Stream, The Power of Workshopping aka pivoting a community strategy. If you’d like to learn more, I took some great notes, you can view them here.
This session, held on April 19th, reminded me of my own journey and how much the Find Calm Here Community has evolved over the past two years since I’m almost near celebrating our 2-year anniversary.
Here is a quick snapshot:
- Launched in 2020, the Find Calm Here Community was a wellness initiative to help my local community find calm in the process of daily life. I learned that I didn’t have a good business model connected to this offering and spent 6 months evaluating the best way to relaunch the network but needed a plan for gaining paid members.
- Therefore, I spent 6 months building a consulting business, spending time getting clear on the problem I solve, my services, and gaining trust from clients.
- Then I shifted my focus to helping entrepreneurs build their Mighty Networks and decided to kick off my new network with the Mighty Mastermind, intensive small 90-day cohorts in 2021 but had varied success.
- Therefore, in mid-2021 I opened up the Find Calm Here Community to community builders and offered group coaching sessions, feedback, and tech support answers.
- In late 2021 I learned that step-by-step guides were what my member wanted and I began creating guides to support members in various community-building tasks including launching, onboarding, and member growth but I discovered that members still weren’t as engaged as I’d expected.
- Therefore at the beginning of 2022, I asked our members what they’d like to do and they told me they would like to lead a book club with great success. Therefore, this took the focus off of me (the host) and shifted to empowering the community members to lead, connect, and collaborate.
This example shows that I had an idea, I ran with it, I then listened to my ideal members, and learned what works best for my members and myself as the host, then I relaunched the community with this new structure with the understanding that it’s a strategy that will change as I continue to ask members questions.
Discovery is the first step in your community strategy loop
Some people think that “Ideal Member Interviews” aren’t that important to complete as a community leader, it is more important to get the tech (website and community design) done first.
This is false, member interviews are the MOST important step to building an authentic and valuable community strategy.
✨Pro-Tip: If you don’t have time for interviews, put together a survey and send it via email, share it with your current members, and put a date on it so you can collect data and put together a launch or relaunch plan.
Doing discovery in each phase of your “year-in-the-life” will allow you to continue “workshopping” your community strategy. A few questions to ask yourself and your community after your first “launch” during the evaluation phase. (After you’ve tried something and just aren’t seeing the results you expected or anticipated.)
- What have you learned?
- What have you experienced?
- What did you enjoy the most about it?
- What did you least enjoy about it?
- What did the members tell you about it?
Identify the community structure that fits best with your members
After knowing your “ideal member” a bit more, you can identify what they want to do and how they want to achieve a goal or reach a desired outcome.
A traditional online course consists of high-quality videos, long worksheets, or a massive workbook that takes months to complete. Most of these digital courses are still sitting on the customer’s computer untouched or they have barely stretched the surface of the content.
A LIVE course structure is something that you can create WITH a community in real-time if you know your “Big Purpose” and alight that with your ideal member’s challenges, by offering them a simple way to implement change in their lives.
Gina Gives an example of Course Strecutures and calls this framework SPARK
- Content-Only Course – No limit to the number of seats or participants
- Cohort-Based Course- set number of participants at the same time
- Community Course – Course Materials are second, and Activity Feed is upfront
Get a FREE 90-Minute Strategy Session (Value of $297) with this link!
Combine the onboarding process with a LIVE Challenge
If a course is just too much to consider, think about combining your onboarding process with a challenge.
✨ Ambassador Challenge – Really effective, this worked for a client I worked with early in 2022 —>
✨ REAL CLIENT EXAMPLE✨ 30-DAY Challenge
🗓 Each Sunday, we will publish a “weekly drop” that includes the week’s mindful moments menu, journal prompts, resource videos and articles, access to online classes, and more!
Be sure to “join” this Show Up for YOU in the 2022 content section to be notified when weekly drops are published!
🏆 Each week, we will reward “challenge superstars” for their contributions to the online community.
🌟 Ways to be a Challenge Superstar:
Courageous Sharing: Courageous sharing offers the gift of belonging to both the sharer and the witness. When we resonate with another’s experience, we realize we’re not alone in ours. And just like that – as if by magic – a connection is made, shame lifts, and healing begins.
**Be sure to share in this specified challenge Activity Feed so we can keep all the Show Up for YOU magic in one place!
Being a Community Contributor: Some of us show up by sharing information, knowledge, and resources!
Consume Content: Dive into the locally sourced content inside the On-demand Content section. Be sure to click the “complete” button at the bottom of each resource! This allows us to track your progress.
Live Participation: Participating in free online classes and gatherings, group wellness classes, or utilizing the rec center in person.
Support, Encourage, and Uplift Others: In this time of isolation, polarization, judgment, and social media trolling, it’s more important than ever that we choose to search out and celebrate the light inside ourselves and others.
Community Book club
We just kicked off a LIVE interview with our community member Kathy who shared about the book club. To listen to the episode, please subscribe to the Community Strategy Podcast, it will be LIVE in two weeks.
Inside the Find Calm Here Community, in January I asked the members what they’d like to do and they told me they’d love to host a book club. Three members offered to volunteer to host the by-weekly meetings.
No matter the direction you choose, it’s always a good idea to have an open mind and be flexible. Listen to your members, tell them what you’d like them to do, and what will help them achieve their goals, then watch as the magic happens!
Upcoming LIVE with Mighty Networks
Read our blog
Pamela is seeing a trend that business owners are looking to go deep and shift in the marketplace. She shares that a big audience isn’t necessarily what so many are seeking right now, it’s actually about working more deeply with fewer clients.
In this episode of the Community Strategy Podcast, host Deb Schell shares her notes and thoughts from the recent CMX Summit which she attended virtually on September 14th and 15th and attended several sessions in addition to networking with the world’s largest group of community builders.
“Community is the earth, water, air, and sunshine for our sense of belonging and purpose. It is the ecosystem – the set of people, places, structures, organizations, resources, and behaviors – that allow us to feel like we are seen, heard, understood, and valued, and where we find the tools to reach our goals.”