Shape a narrative that wins people over to your community
The thread that holds all communities together is their shared mission, vision, and values. In building a community around your brand, these are already set for you. The next step is to weave these into a narrative that connects with your audience and inspires them to share the vision with you in your community.
The narrative should:
- Define your target persona
- Define what problem your community solves
- Define how your community solves the problem
- Show your audience how they will benefit from your community
To draw people into your community, create content that solves your audience’s problem and is infused with your narrative. Share this content in other communities and spaces that your audience frequents and engage with people who engage with your content.
Creating trust with boundaries
Although digital communities are sheathed in a layer of semi-anonymity, engaging within a community is still a vulnerable action for members. Because engagement is essential to keeping your community thriving, it’s important to establish boundaries at the outset to foster a sense of trust and belonging for members.
These boundaries will look different for every organization, but a few to consider include:
- Boundaries for membership
- Minimum contribution expectations
- Expectations of conduct
- Transparency and involvement from leadership
When there are clear boundaries in place for each aspect of the community experience, everyone knows what to expect and feels safe to engage with the community.
Keeping the community engaged
Once members feel safe to engage in the community, sustaining the momentum becomes the challenge. This is where you’ll need to mobilize your community into actions that support the mission and vision of the community.
Keep members actively working towards the solution your community aims to achieve. This is where expectations of minimum contribution come into play. When there are regular tasks or contributions that members must complete, it gives them a reason to engage on a frequent basis.
Define frameworks for re-engaging or off-boarding inactive members. Life gets in the way sometimes and people engage less than they once did—that’s OK. Sometimes folks just need to be re-engaged and drawn back into the fold to remind them why they joined the community in the first place. Other times, it’s in the best interest of the member and community to part ways with an off-boarding process that addresses any assets and expectations around re-joining at a later date.
When it’s time to relinquish control
Though your brand will start as the heart of the community, the goal is to build the community to a place where the members, the community itself, becomes the driving force.
Give ownership and control to the community. Even from day one, there should be aspects of the community that members have ownership over. As your community becomes more established, continue to trust the community to control more aspects of the community.
Allow sub-communities to form. Though everyone should be united under a common cause, it’s inevitable that factions will form within the community—allow it, encourage it even. These sub-communities are where members will form tight bonds and find their most meaningful work that keeps them coming back to the community day after day.