Building a successful community is a long-term game. Besides planning how you can make your launch a success, you should also consider the different elements of running a sustainable community—from acquiring new members to getting funding for your community.
Before getting too ahead of ourselves, however, some self-reflection is in order. A good first step is to identify the resources you have at your disposal before looking into which external partners you can work with when building your community.
Have you downloaded your Community Readiness Canvas yet?
Working with partners
While some communities are singlehandedly run by one community manager, others work together with partners to manage different aspects of their community. This is quite handy if you're strapped for resources and time, as you can get partners to take over certain responsibilities within your community—such as content creators, post moderators, event managers, and general community activators.
Partners can bring a lot of value to your community. Take Amsterdam Smart City, for example, the community bringing citizens, businesses, knowledge institutions and public authorities together to shape the city of the future.
Their main partners include big organizations facing the challenges of a developing a sustainable city, such as energy companies, tourist attractions, and the municipality itself. Besides from listing open projects, they also bring in experts to the community, host local meetups, and share relevant content for members.
Can you make any smart collaborations with partners?
- Promote partner services and/or events
- AMAs or live Q&As with partners
- Sponsored posts and articles
Whether you're creating an open or closed community, it's important to have a promotional plan in place. It might also be a smart idea to combine your online community with in-person events and meetups; especially if you want to connect members in real life or promote your community to a wider audience.
That's exactly what Dutch bank ABN AMRO does with their online community and annual conference, Beyond Banking. As you can't discuss the future of banking in just one day, everyone who registers for the conference is automatically added to their community. Smart, right?
Their conference not only brings together the Beyond Banking community in a physical setting, they also invite attendees to continue the conversation in the community with one simple CTA: shape the future of banking.
What channels can be used to promote the community?
- Mailing list(s)
- Company website
- Facebook group
- Annual conference
Your team will be integral to the success of your community, and each person should bring a different set of skills to the table. The goal of this question is identify your strengths as a team and find gaps to fill—whether that's by hiring an extra person or working with freelancers and agencies.
What are the competences of your team?
- Experience with content creation
- Experience selling partnerships
- Community management and engagement
Besides your team, think about the other resources you have at your disposal to contribute to the success of your community. This can be anything from a marketing budget and event space to a loyal following of customers.
What other resources are available at your organization?
- Marketing budget
- Event space for in-person meetups
- Reputable brand image