Will members have to pay a fee to join? Are there any other requirements? How will you make your members feel at home once they've joined? These are the main questions you need to consider when thinking about the day-to-day running of your community.
Before launching your community you should define if there will be membership requirements, and decide how involved you want to be with members on a daily basis. If you identified budget as an issue earlier, you might want to look at introducing membership fees or introducing partnership packages to support your community financially.
Have you downloaded your Community Readiness Canvas yet?
Open vs. closed community
This is the age-old question when building a community. As this FeverBee article points out, the choice is not just between an open community, where everyone can see anything, and a closed community, where you have to register to access the content.
You should also think about what your members can access when landing on your community or after registering, and what they can do— such as commenting on posts, signing up for events, etc.
Requirements for joining
You might be thinking: Why should there be requirements to join my community? But there are many sound reasons for doing so.
Besides asking for membership fees, you might want to maintain a certain level of expertise by limiting your community to people with a specific educational background or job type. Alternatively, you could run a skill-based assessment or a series of qualification questions to make sure you get the right members to your community.
Squarespace Circle is a fantastic example of a community that keeps the quality of its members high by implementing one simple requirement. To be eligible to join Squarespace's community of leading website designers and creative entrepreneurs who share knowledge, tools, and support, members must have at least three Squarespace sites.
Why? Because website designers who work with Squarespace on a regular basis have more expertise with the platform, can give better feedback, and tend to be resellers and brand ambassadors. This creates a safe environment for Squarespace to test new ideas, get valuable feedback, and most importantly keep their most important customers engaged with their brand.
Will there be any requirements to join your community?
Will members have to...
- Pay to join your community?
- Complete a skill-based assessment?
Or if you're running a closed community, will it be...
If you need to monetize your community, you can consider selling ad space and sponsored posts. You should be mindful, however, that running advertising could potentially alienate your community members. The good news is that there other ways to monetize your platform while still putting the community first. For instance, you can ask your partners to sponsor your community in return for a spotlight page and other premium perks.
Will you allow commercial activities?
- We will sell ads
- We will sell sponsored posts
- We will sell partnerships
Contact with members
Think about how active you want to be in the community. Regular contact with members might be required to keep them engaged, especially if your community is driven by member content. However, if your community is more about member-to-member interaction, you might want to sit back and enable your members to create new connections.
Neptune Software Community is an online community for developers working with the company's software. From the CTO to development support reps, the whole organization is extremely active in the community, and are always on hand to troubleshoot support requests and share best practices with the community.
How much contact do you want to have with members?
Think about your role in the community:
- Do you want to be a connector or an activator?
- Is your goal just to facilitate connections between members?
- Or do you want communicate with your members on a regular basis? If so, how often? And via which channels—email, live chat, blog articles?
This is an important one to think about if you need to drive revenue from your community. One way to do this is to ask for all members for a membership fee, or have paid memberships for organizations and partners.
The Watercooler is an online community for executives, managers, and founders who want to talk about leadership, company culture, and more. The community charges a membership fee of €20/month to cover their costs and help maintain a high-quality moderated community.
Are there costs for companies or individuals to join?
- Small membership fee
- Partners will pay to join
- No, it will be completely free to join