Before Growing a Community, Check For a Pulse

Before deciding to open the floodgates of a new social profile or online community by placing ads or running an campaign, the community should first have a pulse.

First impressions are as important in online communities and on social profiles as it is in face-t0-face interactions.

Interaction and content sustainability is something that takes time to establish in an online community. Once you’ve gotten the community through its first week of life, and you’ve gone through all of our planned content and resources for the launch, what are you left with?

Picking up the pieces from the launch and plugging that content into a sustainable content schedule is what separates vibrant communities from ones on life support via auto-posting and faceless content aggregation.

In a post yesterday on his must-read online community blog, FeverBee, Richard Millington talks about the need to master engagement before growth:

Only once you can convert your existing members into active members, can you justify growth. You need to learn how to engage members before you grow the community, not after. You should have some proven tactics to get members active. Everything else is a waste of time and your precious first impression.

By launching a community the other-way around, you run the risk of having a community without a community engagement strategy.

If you don’t give yourself — and the community — enough lead time,  instead of engaging with community members and responding to questions in a meaningful way, it will feel like you’re putting out fires, or playing Whack-a-Mole.

Having a strategy for keeping the conversation going in a sustainable way is absolutely vital. Without it, growing the community only sets yourself — and your community — up for failure.