Build a Community & Grow Your Standout Business

 

Lesson Info

Craft Your Community Vision Define the Boundaries of Your Community

We're gonna start this portion of community development by defining the boundaries of your community. And what do I mean by a boundary for a community? Well, if you think about your community that you live in. Maybe it's a neighborhood. Maybe it's a small town like I live in. Maybe it's a township, a county, maybe it's a city, maybe it's a street in a city that is its own community. But you know what those boundaries are, right? Whether you live in Soho or you live in the Village, you know where the village stops and the next neighborhood starts, right? I know where Lititz stops and Warwick Township starts, and where Warwick Township stops and where Manheim Township starts, right? We know what these boundaries are, whether they're firmly drawn lines or whether there's just sort of, like, a boundary that everyone agrees on. Well, this is in town and that's out of town. This is in the hood, this is out of the hood, right? And we wanna create the same sort of thing, or we want to know wha...

t that same sort of boundary is for our community, because it helps people understand whether they're in or not. And an important part of building a community is making sure that the community members know they're in. We're gonna talk in a little bit about why that's so important and about why that can be such a problem, 'cause it can be a huge problem, but first we're gonna talk about the boundaries themselves. And this leads me to sort of a, maybe a gray area, or maybe it's just a distinction that only I see. I don't know. But when I think about communities online, I tend to think of them as informal and formal communities, or sort of explicit and implicit communities. Because I do think that there is a community aspect that's a lot more permeable, a lot more flexible, that can be built without all the bells and whistles that we associate with much more formal communities. A lot of the things, you know, that Gina was talking about. And I do think that those informal communities can have a real purpose in terms of business. And maybe you decide as you go that what you really want is something a little more informal, something a little more permeable. Maybe you don't need all of the things that we're gonna talk about in this class, but you become inspired by them. If you want a formal community, then you need everything from this class. (laughs) Maybe a little bit more as you go. So let's talk about the difference. Informal communities are things that are bound by a strength of identity or interest. So the identity or the interest itself starts to create the community. They're often cross-platforms and settings. So they might happen on Instagram and on Facebook and in an ecommerce shop, for instance. They tend to be more brand-driven and curated. They're a little bit more about the business and a little bit less about member interaction. And they tend to lack a depth in terms of membership options. And when I say lack depth, I don't mean that as a negative thing. What I mean is that there's, there tends to be just one pool that everyone gets put in, and those kind of inner rings of community-building, you're at this level, you've achieved this award, you've achieved this status, those things don't exist typically in informal communities. So informal communities might be things like hashtags. They might be things like brand-based communities. They might be things even like email lists or listserv-type things. That's a, that dates me a little bit. (laughs) But those are what inform-, those are, kind of tend to be informal types of communities. And then we have formal communities, and we are talking a little bit more in this class about the formal community side of things. As I said, if you're building an informal community, you can pull a lot from this class into that, and there's just going to be a little more that you're like, nah, I'm good. I don't need that. So we are talking about formal communities here. Boundaries in a formal community are defined by clear walls. (laughs) And of course that's with air quotes, because that's digital walls of one sort or another, and we'll talk about what some of those things are. In a formal community, you know for sure whether you're in or you're out, right? That was a little Project Runway. (laughs) And in a formal community, there tend to be opportunities to enter inner rings. So there might be a free community and a paid Mastermind group. There might be a low-cost community and a more premium tier, okay? There might also just be the difference between a free community and a brand ambassador level. I'm gonna use Lululemon here as an example in a minute, right? And they've got, they are a very community-oriented brand, as is Athleta, which I'm head to toe Athleta right now. I love them. They're, I'm so team Athleta community. Yes, you guys are awesome. If you're watching, brand ambassador right here. (laughs) But they've got the community where you, like, wear the clothes, you go to the classes, and then they both, both brands have their brand ambassadors, right? Where it's, they're recognized, they get special stuff, they get to lead events in the community, all those sorts of things, and so that's an inner ring of that larger community space, and it becomes more formal because of that. There's, like, an actual tie there, right? So let's look at some examples of informal communities. This is one that I really love. (laughs) This Instagram page, this Instagram account, nationalparkgeek is, I mean, my understanding of this is that the guy who started nationalparkgeek just started this cool Instagram thing 'cause he loves national parks and he's a national park geek. If you are a person who loves national parks and you see this thing, you're like, uh, I'm a national park geek, too, right? I'm a national park geek. And so see how he says in the bio, tag #nationalparkgeek for features. That means there's a whole community of national park geeks out there tagging their photos as #nationalparkgeek. If you click that hashtag in Instagram, boom, informal community, right? So this page isn't the community. The hashtag is the community, right? And so that kinda goes back to this idea of communities subverting power structures, as well, because now, yes, there's this special privilege of I can get featured on the nationalparkgeek page, but really that's, I mean, this is a beautiful feed. I highly recommend following it. But what's really cool is clicking on the tag and seeing all of the member-driven content, right? And so this account, which has plenty of followers and plenty of buzz, benefits not just from their account but also all the people who are tagging things as #nationalparkgeek, as well. That loops more people in. It creates that viral loop effect. It creates that network effect that Gina was talking about, okay? Now, the way that they, or one of the ways, at least, that they generate revenue from this, then, is they have an ecommerce shop. So if you are a national park geek and you are proud of it, you can purchase products from the nationalparkgeek store. So, for instance, on my Patagonia backpack, also has a formal community, in the green room right now, there's a nationalparkgeek pin on my backpack that I got at Pinnacles national park two times ago when I was out here. I am a proud national park geek. I am a proud member of this informal community. Even if I don't have, like, a membership or a card that says I'm a member, I am a member because half of my photos from the last year are tagged with this tag and I have that little pin that I bought, that I paid money for, right? (laughs) All right, so that's one example. Super simple. Instagram is driven by informal communities. I talked about Active earlier, right? I tag a whole bunch, mostly stories, not so much actual pictures on Instagram, I tag that Team Active, #teamactive. I do that almost on a daily basis. I'll share my daily workout, share a sweaty selfie, tag it #teamactive. There's another national park one, Parks Project. I follow hashtags for pixie cuts, right? Like, I love looking at other women's pixie cuts. Yay, so many of you guys, pixie cut people, yay! That's another informal community. I have a sense of belonging there and camaraderie with those people even if I don't possess a membership card for that thing or, you know, I don't pay money to them. I don't even have a login at that community. It's part of how I use this other platform. Make sense? Okay, cool. Here's an example of another informal community. So this is our local Lululemon store in Lancaster, about 30 minutes south of where I live, and they host free yoga classes every Saturday morning. It's awesome. I'm gonna call that an informal community. The boundary there is showing up for a yoga class. (laughs) You show up for a yoga class, you start becoming part of the Lululemon Lancaster community. You start meeting people. Maybe you start going on the runs that they have before the free yoga classes. You go out for coffee with people afterwards. And you drop a couple hundred dollars at Lululemon because that's how much money you spend if you buy anything there, right? (laughs) So good for the business, good for the people. It's an informal community. I am using a Facebook page here to denote that. There is no actual, I just wanna say, there's no Facebook group. This is based, it's the page that they use to communicate with their community. Super simple. Very informal, but it works. It builds community. It supports their business. It builds their brand. It helps people connect to something bigger than them, okay? It still embodies that bigger sense of community that we've been talking about this whole time, okay? Another example was introduced to me. I did a survey of some of my friends who have built communities in one way or another before this class, 'cause I really wanted to get as diverse and widespread a set of examples as possible. And one of those examples was from a woman named Amanda Bond who's the Facebook ad strategist, and she was very adamant that she felt she could build community on her Facebook page, and she is super proud of, and for good reason, the community that she's built on a page as opposed to a group. Now, this seems, this is gonna, if you know anything about Facebook algorithms and, like, gaming the Facebook system, which is not something that I encourage, this is gonna sound really counterintuitive, 'cause a lot of people are jumping ship on pages to go to groups. Don't do that. That is not the right thing to do right now. Amanda jumped ship on a group and moved it to a page, and for very good reason. But really what we're talking about here is the strategy behind this Facebook page and this informal community, 'cause this is definitely an informal one. She says, "My intention was always to build a thriving community "on the page, "one that people would return to over and over again "on purpose. "When you're just getting started "and your audience is small, "it feels like you're talking to the exact same five people "over and over again." And so she wanted to really create a strategy behind this page where people were going, as she said, come back over and over again. They were going to create that habit because of their connection to her, yes, but to also the other people on that page. So this is what it looks like, and you can see there is conversation between different... This is a bad example, because there's way more conversation on the page. I can only capture so much of it in an image. But she really does. She posts things, creates conversation, just how I was saying, you know, at CoCommercial, our goal is not to close conversation down with advice or my end-all, be-all answer, but to instead spark conversation. And that's exactly what Amanda does here on this Facebook page. She posts things like, here's breaking news. She does Facebook Live videos. She posts updates about things that are working with her clients and not. And it creates conversation between other people. And here is the kicker, which, you know, this is exactly what we've learned here. Amanda says, "I never provide answers. "It's not about being right. "It's about empowering our community to digest information "and make their own decisions." What did Gina say is one of the chief reasons people join communities? To make better, smarter decisions about their interests, okay? That's what Amanda's done here on this Facebook page. That's an informal community. Now on the spectrum, we'll say, between informal communities and formal communities, we're gonna start to get a little bit more formal with some different examples. These first three classes, or the first three examples had a very permeable boundary, right? Sure, you join the nationalparkgeek community by going to a national park and tagging it #nationalparkgeek on Instagram. This is very simple. You join the Lululemon Lancaster community by showing up to a yoga class. Very easy. These are not hoops you have to jump through. These are just things you do. Definitely with Amanda Bond's Facebook page, all you do is like the Facebook page and show up, you know, comment on something, and you're in. Boundary is very low, very permeable, and you don't necessarily have that sense of in or out. Now we're gonna get into, as I said, a couple of communities that do have a much more finite boundary. My friend Sarah Peck has an awesome podcast and growing community called Startup Pregnant, and it's all about female entrepreneurs, female freelance owners, female small business owners, female professionals of all sorts who are interested in better figuring out how to navigate the almost un-navigable waters (laughs) of being a mother and being a professional, and getting really real, and it's a really different perspective. I just, I highly recommend it. If it's of interest to you, check it out at Startup Pregnant. This is just a screencap of her website, and she has Join the Community as a call to action in the navigation bar. You can see that at the top. And she has some explanation about what it's all about. And then you have to give her your email address to even get an invitation to that Facebook group, okay? Now, when you do get that invitation to that Facebook group, so now you've crossed one boundary, you get another boundary. You go and request now to actually join, you have to answer these three questions. You don't answer these three questions, you don't get in. That's another boundary. So she's created this very solid boundary between who is in and who is out so people know when they're in, they're in and they're invested and they belong. So, so, so important. Sarah says, "It's about vetting members "and making sure we grow deliberately rather than haywire. "We'd be better off as a core group of 500 people "than an exploded group that overwhelms people "with content, ideas, and messages all the time." Now, I believe that there's absolutely a way for Sarah to build this community to 10,000 members, 100,000 members if she wants to without overwhelming people with content ideas and messaging, and at the same time, I really respect this way of growing, and I really respect this approach to growth, as well. And so boundary absolutely helps us do that, too. It helps us maintain control of who's in and who's out, not for the purpose of excluding people. We'll talk more about that. But for the purpose of making sure that the people are in have the best experience they can, okay? So that's another boundary. This is an example of a newer Mighty Network Naomi Hattaway is building, or has built, I Am A Triangle. It was a very large, very engaged Facebook group that she's moved over to Mighty Networks. And so again, the boundary here is very similar to Sarah's. There's a button that is Request to Join. You have to ask to join. There's a question to answer. And that's how you get into I Am A Triangle. Now, those are all boundaries, whether they're really loose ones or they're more formal, that, you know, create a difference between being in and being out, and none of them, by the way, were give me your credit card, right? So that is absolutely a boundary that you can put on something. Give me your credit card. I'm gonna charge you $9.99 a month, or I'm gonna charge you $97 a month. But the point of a, the point I wanna make here is not that paying, not that it is paid or it's unpaid and that paying creates belonging or that paying creates that boundary. You wanna have a purpose to the boundary beyond monetization, beyond revenue generation. So yes, you may, as part of the boundary creation process, ask for payment, but it's not the purpose of the boundary, and the payment isn't the boundary itself. Does that make sense? And this goes back to why we are waiting a very long time in this class to talk about how much you're going to charge and whether it should be free or not, because you wanna create a purpose for having a boundary beyond I would like to get paid, please. I want you to get paid. Please don't worry about that. We'll talk about that. (laughs) But in terms of the health of your community, you want people to know whether they're in or whether they're out. So at CoCommerical, you know, we do have a subscription on our service. We have a request to join feature right now, so you have to request an invitation and then you'll eventually get that invitation and then we will ask you for your credit card. But again, the asking for the credit card isn't the boundary. It is taking that action so that we know you are there for the right purpose. And so our sales process creates that right purpose, right? We're gonna tell you this is the context in which this is. Because there's a lot of people, especially when we were first starting to make a switch from a more education training model into a community model, where people expected, well, if I join Tara's community, then that means I get this content library, and I get access to Tara, and I get access to all of this training. And it's like, no no no, if you wanna be here, you're gonna be here because you want access to all the other people who wanted access to this thing, not to me. And so we create that context. That's our boundary, right? It's setting that expectation. And if you're the kind of business owner who values getting the nitty-gritty on how other people run their businesses, then you're gonna fit in really well with, in our community. If you're the kinda person who wants to be, who just wants the answer right away and doesn't wanna think about it, they just, you just wanna know the thing, and I get it. There are things I want the answers for like that, too, right? You're probably not gonna, you're not gonna like our community, and you shouldn't join. And so that's the boundary we create. We just happened to also put a payment on top of that, as well. Kind of seals the deal. Like, are you this person enough to hand over your credit card information right now? If you are, great, and if you're not, great. Doesn't make you a bad person. Just doesn't make you a member of our community. Does that make sense? All right, so what kinda boundaries are you gonna put, or what boundary are you going to put on your community. Currently it is just a hit the subscribe button, enter your credit card information, and you get a free trial to see whether or not this is the community for you. Okay. So the trial is kind of the... The, so I think it is the trial. Yeah. Yeah. And that gives you access to everything we have inside and all of the different people you get to engage in everything for that week. Okay, great. Awesome. And why does that boundary, why is it important for you to have that boundary? I think especially for my community, I think there's so many, there's so many things out there for parents, and there are so many things out there for parents that are pretty crappy, that I think it's very important for people to, number one, have the chance to assess, is this for me... Yeah. ...for my family? Does this resonate with me? And, what's the number two? Just to get... Sorry, I'm... (laughs) I'm myself a mom and quite sleep-deprived. (laughter) What was that number two? It was something about getting to try it out for free. Yeah. All right, awesome. Who else has a community already, or you're thinking like, this is the boundary I need to have? Denise? For my free community, it's, the boundary is joining an on-demand seven-day e-course. Okay. And then they can be part of the Facebook group, which is where the community lives right now. Awesome. So there's sort of... So that's the free part. Yeah. So there's sort of an initiation boundary that's going on. Yes, because that's the focus is the support for the content in there. So I don't want it just to be on anybody who wants to learn about marketing. It's about a, you know, certain process. Yeah. Perfect. Angie? I actually have a question... Yeah, sure. ...which is that, you know, the kinds of people we work with, my first thought was, like, oh, well, we have a lot of published folks, so that might actually be something we set up. Yeah. This is a... But the truth is, the people who do the best are actually willing to do the work. Okay. Right? And so how would, might you use a boundary to identify the people who should really self-select out? That's a great question. So in that case, you could have people submit, like, you could have some sort of writing prompt that becomes your boundary. You have them submit a piece of writing that they did on, based on that prompt, and then they get an invitation to join. So, simple. It doesn't have to be, like, and you can say this in the process, like, this isn't about me grading your assignment. This isn't about a critique. We just want, we value building a community of people who are actually writing, who are actually doing the work, and so we just wanna know that when you join this community, you're gonna put some effort in. Does that make sense? Yeah. Cool, yeah, I loved that. Let's go to the back. Hey, so I'm Jenn, and one of the things I was thinking about as a boundary is having an application where they have to give you what is it they want to get out of this, and then using that plan to get them involved in, like, moving forward with the community. Yes, absolutely. That's a great idea especially for a smaller community where you do have, you have more control over people's experiences. You have more ability to kind of craft experiences personally for them. So if you're talking about, say, a high-ticket community, and that might be a community of 10 people or a community of 20 people, an application can work fantastically. Maybe you're building a mastermind type of program with a community-centric approach. Applications are fabulous for that. And you can certainly do that with larger communities, too. I mean, Sarah's questions are kind of similar almost to an application process, as well. But yeah, that's a great idea. Melissa? (mic cuts out) community, the way people, I haven't been doing any webinars lately, so people join by, because they opt in for a freebie, and then they're offered an opportunity to get a seven-day e-course, and if they get the e-course, then they're offered an opportunity to join the community. So first they've gotten the e-course and then they've given, gotten the opportunity to join the community. So I guess the e-course is the boundary. So only people who have said yes to the e-course are the people who join the community. For the free community, they have a list of three questions, just like you saw there, that they have to answer those questions in order to get into the free community. Awesome. Great. So two examples of sort of an initiation phase. And it's funny that you, or not funny, it's great that you talk about that, you guys talked about that, because that one book that I mentioned, "The Art of Community" by Charles Vogl, he talks about initiation in terms of thinking, like, of monasteries, right? Like, if you want to become a brother, a monk, you have to go through that period of initiation, and it's a long and ancient tradition of building these hoops that we have to go through to join these very special communities. So that's a great way to think about what your boundary is going to be. You can teach. You can get people kind of invested in the shared culture, the shared language of your community before they ever have to say yes, I want in. So yeah, and I love that for both of you, there's this sort of, there's also an affirmative, an affirmation that yes, they want to join at the end of it, as opposed to, you know, when you do a free challenge in a free Facebook group the way a lot of marketers do, you have to join the Facebook group, and that's predominantly where the content is happening, so you miss out on the initiation because everyone's all looped into the same place, whereas with you guys, you've got this period of initiation first and then the affirmation yes, I want to join, yes, I wanna go further, yes, I wanna talk with other people about these same ideas. Make sense? That's a phenomenal boundary. All right, so those are two questions that I want you to think about when, as it pertains to your own community. They're in the workbook. These are things you absolutely want to plan as you're building your own community. What boundary do I want to create so that people know who's in and who's out so that they know when they belong and when they don't, and why is it important that that boundary exists, all right? The more you can give, the more you can come up with that reason for yourself, the better reason you're gonna give for other people. Well, why, Melissa, do I have to go through this email course when really I just want into the free Facebook group? Here's why. These are the things you need to have experienced. This is the language you need to learn. This is the culture that you need to embody to be a great member of our community. So have a reason that the boundary exists. Don't just put a wall between the community and the rest of the world. Have a reason that wall exists, okay? And that reason then becomes the door, I guess, if we're gonna get all metaphorical on it. All right, now, as I said, boundaries are actually less about excluding people and more about making sure people know they belong. This is one of those kind of idiosyncrasies of community-building that you don't expect until you're knee-deep in it. We have people... Oh my gosh, like... (laughs) And this is not to put any of them down that have, anyone, maybe you sitting here have thought this, too. But there are people who join CoCommercial who I think are just phenomenal, ideal, amazing members. They jump in, they start conversations, they start commenting right away. And then a couple weeks later, we'll get a message. "I don't know if I really belong here or not." Or, "I don't know if I'm good enough for this community," or, "I don't know if my business is successful enough "to be here." It's like, what are you talking about? Of course you belong here. The fear of not belonging is so pervasive, so deep, so, like, ingrained in us from the womb, that you have to give that sense of, you're in, you're golden, you're here, you belong, and you have to re-commit to that over and over and over again. And your boundary helps you do that. So yes, there's a certain amount that's, like, no, these people are outside of the community. But it's less about excluding people and more about saying that we're in this together, okay? So think of that boundary maybe as a giant hug. (laughter) Okay? Yeah, you belong here. You're good, you're good. Okay? Any questions about that? Defining the scope of your community, creating those boundaries? Yeah, Maya. Wheels are turning. (laughs) Yeah, good. I love when that happens. So between Angie's and Jenn's question and answer, I just have a sense that I probably wanna have something that's, that has a writing prompt element to it and also has an application element to it. So I guess the question I have on the back of that is can a boundary ever become too long and daunting. It... Like, I don't wanna overcomplicate... Right. ...you know, the process. Well, I would say that depends on your vision for your community, the purpose behind it and the values behind it. It's also going to depend on the experience people are going to find on the other side. So Gina was talking about, you know, thinking about your community as, like, how you would host a retreat. And actually, she talked about both parties and retreats. And I would say a retreat involves a way more complicated process, a way more complicated boundary than a party does. Let's say you're throwing a... I don't know, a graduation party. You're gonna invite all the family 'cause you want your kid to get all of the money in gifts, right? So that they can go off to college and leave you alone and stop asking you for money, right? So you invite all the family to the party. There's very little boundary. It's like, are we related? Great, come on to the graduation party. And so, and then that's what the experience is, too. There's a lotta people. You see the cousin you haven't seen in forever. You talk to them awkwardly and then you go find the people that you feel more comfortable with, and you eat the food, and it's like, it's all right, right? And you have fun. It's a great experience, but it's also not, like, five star, right? The retreat you want to feel luxurious, maybe, and you want everyone who's there, even if they don't know each other when they walk in the door, they wanna have that instant connection, okay? And so you can create a much more complicated process because the expectation of the experience on the other side is much higher. So if you wanna build a community of tens of thousands of people, you are likely going to want a less complicated boundary, but you still want a very clear boundary, and you want to have a hoop that people have to jump through in one way or another, okay? But if you're creating a very curated, very intensive, very immersive experience as your community, then you can have a more complicated boundary, okay? And that's not an either-or, right? It's a fluid, flexible, spectrum-y kind of thing. So you just wanna make sure those things balance out. And I'm also gonna tell you it's gonna be a process of experimentation. 'Cause you might think, oh, this is a really complicated boundary, and people are like, oh, that was easy. Now I'm in and the experience gets weird. (laughs) Or you might think, oh, this isn't too bad, and people are like, yeah, I'm not doing that to join this community. Okay? So it's gonna be a process of experimentation and rebalancing until you find the right kinda setup. Other questions? Yeah, Alice. I was one of those people... Yeah. ...in CoCommercial that... (laughs) Good. I was super excited for two weeks, and then like, I don't think, I don't belong here, I... So I sent Shannon a message, and she's like, no, you do! Yeah. You know, so... Anyway, I'm just curious because what happened for me was I just got over myself and just said, well, I'm just gonna participate because that's the only way that I'm actually gonna get response, et cetera. Yeah. So now I feel incredibly welcomed. It's one of the best resources. I'm just, I'm pitching you all the time, basically. (laughs) It's ridiculous. (Tara laughs) So my question is, that moment was still, like, I was gonna quit, and just because sort of I had, like, my own personal soul-searching that changed that, there was nothing that I felt from the community specifically that I felt like, okay, now I'm, you know, I'm included on a different level, or something like that. I think the flash masterminds started around that time, so maybe that had something to do with it. Yeah. But I was just curious, like, what do you then do about that? 'Cause you say you have those messages, right? Yeah. So just kind of where do you... Yeah, so... ...engage? I mean, I think... Onboarding, which we're gonna talk about later today, I believe, is a huge part of that, and I would say our onboarding has changed a lot since you were initially onboarded. I think for us also, hiring additional help in terms of community managers, and I realize that's not something that everyone can do, especially right away, but it was, it's been an important part of why I've funded CoCommercial from other parts of the business to this point, so that I could afford to invest in that way, and having people proactively reach out to you before you reach out to us. Because if you were one person who reached out to us and Shannon gave you an answer, and whether it was sufficient or not, you happened to stick around. Like, think about all the other people who did not reach out who went through that same crisis of confidence. And so, yeah, so that's, those are ways that we've improved on that. You know, reaching out to new members personally and saying here, you know, have you had any problems finding your way around? What are you dealing with right now that the community can help you with? Here's how you can make that post and make it as engaging as possible. And we literally do that for members. If someone comes to us and says, hey, I have this problem, but I have no idea who here to ask or how to pose this to the community to get help, our member experience specialists will actually coach them on how to make that post get the best engagement they possibly can. Now, yes, we have human people that I pay that do those things. That's also something that you can do through policies and procedures, too. So you can say, here's, here is a piece of, here's a post on creating the best post that you can create, and here's how, if you follow this, you're going to get engagement on this post, 'cause I know this community cares about you. It's also something where you can deputize other members of your community. And so what I mean by that is, like, let's say, you know, Lina West or Jacquette Timmons or Alethea Fitzpatrick. Hey guys! (laughter) Those are people, like, we haven't officially said, hey, we're deputizing you, but those are people I know, when somebody new joins the community, they share their intro, they say welcome, they, you know, and so if you actually encourage that behavior on the side and you say to your top members, hey, I'm so thankful that you're in here and you're welcoming new people and you're making them feel like they belong. Guess what? They do more of it because they want more of that recognition, right? Another thing Gina was talking about was member features. We're gonna talk more about this later on, too. I know I keep, like, plugging the whole rest of the class, but I can only cover so much at once. Member features are a great way to help people know that they belong. So the more we feature people that look like you, that think like you, that have your same level of success, have the same problems you have, the more you feel like you belong. And ideally we'd feature you at some point, right? (laughs) So those are some of the things that we do, and it's a process, right? So I hope this month, we have less of those freakout experiences than we did six months ago and that we did six months before that. It's constantly a process of getting better. But I would say it's a, you're also, you're not gonna fix it with one fix, right? It's a process of layering on all these different things and figuring out which are going to be the ones that really make people feel included. Yeah, great question, though. Anything else? Denise? Yeah? I'm hogging the... (laughs) No, it's great. You know, I'm thinking, you know, in my own case, I'm looking at different levels, and haven't decided between starting free, starting paid, whatever, but, so I'm looking at boundaries, then, would be staged. Yes. Right? So there's one just to get in, get in the front door, and then there's one to go to the next ring, inner circle, inner ring, whatever. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And that's exactly right. I don't know that I have much more to say about that, actually, but yes, it's... I just wanted confirmation that I was thinking it through the right way. Yup, yup. You wanna think about those boundaries as stepping up. If there are ways that you can help people recognize they're actually stepping up before you make that boundary clear, you're gonna have a lot more people stepping over that boundary when it is presented to them. So that is something that you can actively do as you're managing your community is really recognizing where people are stepping up, where they're making improvements, really calling that out, giving them an opportunity to pat themselves on the back, that's gonna make it so much easier for them to cross that next boundary.

When you have a small business, you’re always on the lookout for your next customer. They might pop up at a networking event, they could subscribe to your email list, they might fill out the contact form on your website.

Too often, knowing where your next customer is going to come from seems unpredictable at best and, at worst, like a huge gamble.

Luckily, there’s a way to ensure you always know where your next customer is coming from—and that your existing customers purchase from you more often—and that’s by building a community.

All sorts of businesses can benefit from making community-building part of their growth strategy and many can benefit from making it part of their business model, too. Whether it’s an informal community (like an email list or Instagram hashtag), a brand-driven community (like a free Facebook group that brings together people in love with the same brand and values), or a dedicated community (like a local group, interest-based social network, or a support group, your business can cultivate deeper connections with existing and potential customers.

Of course, an engaged community doesn’t just happen. If you want to reap the benefits of community-building for your business, you need a plan.

In Build a Community & Grow Your Standout Business, Tara Gentile, the founder of the small business support & social network CoCommercial, will share the must-dos, nice-to-haves, and compelling extras you need to make the most of the community you build around your business. By the end of this class, you’ll have a plan for making community-building an integral part of your marketing strategy—and always knowing where your next customer will come from.

Tara will cover:

  • Simple ways to generate community without a group or forum
  • Why and how to level up into a dedicated space for your business’s community
  • How to create a clear reason Why for joining or participating in your community
  • The systems and procedures you’ll need to manage the workload
  • How to avoid community management burnout
  • How to plan to earn more through your community—whether that’s through charging for membership, selling add-on offers, or generating more word of mouth marketing

Stop waiting for your next customer to come to you and start building a community that brings new business your way every day. 

 
 
 
 

Reviews

  • This class was exactly what I needed. It clarified, confirmed, and connected SO MANY more of the remaining dots for me. Tara, as always, is brilliant, energetic and a general joy to watch as she shares her immense knowledge and helps others get to "the nitty gritty" - thank you Tara, and thank you Creative Live!!
  • Like I said on air... "Wow!" I've been building an online community for about 4 years now, based on what I thought I wanted to my business to be. Now I realize the value of creating a community around my VISION, then building the business based around the community needs and values. What I thought: 1) What people needed from me was my expertise. 2) Members will naturally bond with and engage with one another based on their shared interests and needs. What I learned from Tara: 1) Members rely on me to FACILITATE conversation and sharing. 2) It's my role to be the a connector and mediator. Tara has an amazing presence on stage and is super skilled at drawing out your vision as a business owner/entrepreneur. She makes community building easy to understand. I'll definitely be watching more of her courses. This one alone has changed the way I think about my business and my plan for building in monetization and community building.
  • I went from a vague idea of wanting to build a community to having a clear path to take to start building it. I appreciated the focus on the member vs the business model. Tara presented a clear path for creating the plan first, from vision and purpose to creating the experience for community members, to helping members take the journey to how to monetize in many different ways. My brain is full and I'm excited to take action and launch a community that consolidates my current varied business offers. The presentation was thoughtful and well presented. Excellent and highly recommended.