Make Your Members Feel at Home
Your first job when it comes to community management is making members feel at home. And the good news is you can create a process for this. You can create a procedure for this. It can be both something that you do put work into and we'll talk about that, and something that becomes very automated and very easy for you to actually step back from in terms of your workload. So when a new member joins your community, their motivation to take action is as high as it's going to get. That's sort of the secret of onboarding. And that's really what we're talking about here. When we talk about making a member feel at home, we're talking about a process of onboarding. Are you guys familiar with that term? Okay cool. Onboarding essentially is what happens after you join any new product or after you sign up for any new service. Typically if you think of say, software as a service type of application you get a series of emails, they walk you through the things you need to do. Sometimes it happens ri...
ght on a website now. There are apps that make that really easy for companies to do. When they show you okay, here's where this is, here's where this is. Try doing this, try doing that. That's onboarding. Your community needs a process for that too because as soon as a member joins, that's when they're most likely to take action. If you make them wait an hour, if you make them wait five hours, if you make them wait 24 hours, their motivation goes way, way, way, way down and they're way less likely to do anything you ask them to do. Which means they're not going to stick around in your community, they're not going to add value to the community, and they're not gonna get value from the community. This is one of the most important things you will do as a community manager. As the leader of your community. So first things first. The first thing you need to consider when you're considering this onboarding process is how do you want a member of your community to feel? How do you want a member of your community to feel? In a previous lesson I talked about how at Cocommerical we want new members to feel a sense of relief. Finally I have someplace I can go that people will talk to me about the things I want to talk about. Finally someone can answer this question that I've been wrestling with for months. Finally I can get, I can hear how other people are making things work. It's that sense of relief, that audible sigh that I want our new members to feel. And so when I identify that feeling then I start asking myself what actions are going to make them feel like that? What do you think? What action is going to make someone feel that sense of relief as quickly as possible when they join Cocommercial? Anybody? Aiella?
Either an email or a chat, you know, a warm welcome directly from someone who is in the community already.
Sure, that's absolutely one way you could do it. Someone saying hi. Nadia? Announcement that are no stupid questions.
So, Aiella you mentioned an email, Nadia you mentioned an announcement. Both of those are not actions that the member is taking right? Those are actions that we're taking. So what action can we get someone else to take? Alice?
I really like that when I wrote my introduction that I got immediate like welcomes from other members. Like immediately I felt like oh there's, they are here, they're real people.
Great, so posting an introduction.
That's what I was going to say
Okay Awesome. One of the things we do at Cocommercial is actually prompt people as quickly as possible, to post whatever question, challenge or obstacle they're actually facing right now. Because even beyond an introduction, beyond a personal welcome that someone can respond to, if we can actually get them to say hey here's what's going wrong for me right now or here's the question that's been plaguing me for the last month or here's where I'm really feeling stuck. When people respond to that, even beyond a welcome or a hey or a so glad you're here, they get the immediate value of the platform, of the community. They get it. Boom. And then there's the relief. I asked my question, I got three different responses, I'm gonna give them a try and see which one works. Finally, right? So you get that catharsis that feels really good. And you start actually to create that habit that we were talking about in a previous lesson too. We've now, we've initiated that initial trigger. When you have a question, you come to Cocommercial, you ask the question, you get answers, process starts over again. We've started to create that initial cycle. Aiella?
I'm just wondering, is that a prompt that you, that you prompt them to take on their own? Or do they answer a question
Yes That you put out?
So that's a really good question. We kinda do it both ways. Gina was, in the previous lesson was talking about ice breaker questions, and so Mighty Networks actually allows us to prompt people with a question yes. Our ice breaker questions go with our monthly themes. And we'll talk about that later on. I think in about three or four lessons we'll talk about monthly themes. But so we have that piece of it because often people join us around whatever the topic is that month. Like I know we'll have new members from Creative Live talking about community. And so it's community month at Cocommercial right now. So we do have that ice breaker question. That creates some initial traction. But then our hand welcoming and our automated onboarding prompts them to post about whatever they're dealing with right now. Yeah absolutely. We're gonna talk all about that in just a minute. So, that's one thing that I want you to consider as your brainstorming your own onboarding process. Is how do you want your members to feel and what actions are going to make them feel that way? I would encourage you to write down as many of those actions as possible. And keep in mind that we're talking about things your customer or your member is going to do, not things you're going to do. We'll get there. What are the things that a new member can do, what action can they take to get them that feeling that you want them to have? That emotion, that attitude that you want your community to embody. And there is space in your workbook to start brainstorming those things. As you brainstorm out this list. Can anyone tell me what page we're on? 'Cause I'm not following along in the workbook today. Nine? We're on page nine. So as you start brainstorming these things on page nine in your workbook, this is what you're going to build your onboarding from. So this is a great step to take. Okay. Once you've done that, the next thing you need to consider is what does a new member need to know about using the community? And these things are pretty like objective, pretty straight forward types of things. Like how do you make a post? What kind of post should I make? How do I meet someone new? Who do I ask a question of? How do I find the information, the content that I'm looking for? There are some pretty boilerplate things that you can frankly put into your brainstorming here. Now depending on your community, you might have a lot more or maybe less that you need to include in this list. But you want to seriously sit down and brainstorm all of the things a new member needs to know about using your community. And I mean use in this case in the most straightforward terms. Literally how do I use this thing? Okay? Then I want you to brainstorm, what does a new member need to know about being a great community member? Onboarding does essentially three things. It starts that trigger behavior, habit cycle. It tells people how to use the community, how to use the platform objectively, straightfowardly. And it teaches them what it means to be a great member. You know, when we talk about citizenship in terms of being a citizen of a country or a state or a community, there's an ideal of what that means right? You give back to your community, you volunteer, you uphold the values of the community that you belong to, the society that you belong to. It's the same thing within your community. And the truth is that different communities have different standards, different ideas of what a great community member is. And that's a good thing. Because there should be diverse places for people to go online. But what that means also then, is there are people who have questions of what is acceptable behavior here. What is okay, what is not okay? What's in bounds, what's out of bounds? Some behavior that is in bounds and absolutely appropriate in some communities is out of bounds and absolutely inappropriate in other communities without it being negative behavior. So the more you can define what a new member needs to know about being a great community member, the more at ease they're going to be about taking all of the actions you ask them to take. I have been fascinated with new member behavior since we really started focusing on community. Really I'm pretty fascinated by it in general but definitely over this last year I've been completely geeking out on it. And I've really, you know in the previous lessons we talked a little bit about the difference between lurkers and people who are really engaged and posting a lot and even beyond that I'm really fascinated by what I will call like internet introverts. Like I'm an internet extrovert. I am a definitely an introvert out here in the real world, but you get me online and I'm just gonna dive right in, I'm gonna start posting, I'm gonna start answering questions, answering comments, I don't care what community I'm in, I thrive in an online environment. But I have seen extroverts and introverts alike completely shut down in a digital community. They get really nervous about what the expectations are and they get really nervous about what is okay and what's not okay. They're language changes. It's almost like digital body language gets really weird. And I just want to help those people right? Like I just want to put them at ease. This is safe space, you can do what you need to do here. And so that' what I want you to do too. This question might sound like really woo or really conceptual, but there are very specific things that need to be communicated to new members to put them at ease. It's gonna be different in every single community, but it's so important. So like for instance, one thing at Cocommercial that people get really nervous about is self promotion. Right? Because they've been a part of a lot of Facebook groups or internet forums in the past that are mostly just self promotion. Sign up for my webinar, sign up for my free opt in gift, buy this course from me. And there's very little real dialogue. What we don't actually want to prohibit self promotion at Cocommercial because we like the idea that our members can do business with each other and have a really good idea of what everybody's up to at any given time. And we know if we out the Kabosh on self promotion people will just be very scared about talking about their own stuff and sharing their own experience and expertise right? So instead we have what we call the give first policy. I'll talk more about this and all of our policies later on. But our give first policy tells people very specifically, if you have something to promote, if you have something of yours you want to talk about that's awesome, we encourage that. Here's what we need you to do first. When you post about that thing, or when you share a comment where you're including that webinar or that training or a link to your calendar, we want you to give something first. Give us a behind the scenes, give us a sneak peek, give us something extra, tell us how you got to this point, give us your methodology. Whatever it might be, just give us something more first. And then follow that up with your link or your call to action. Totally fine. But that way the conversation stays really rich. The more we talk about that policy, the more we put it front and center, the more at ease everyone feels and the more they understand what it means to be a great member. Being a great member of Cocommercial does not mean you don't ever talk about the stuff you do. Being a great member of Cocommercial means you give first and then you talk about what it is that you do. And so that's one way that we really define what it means to be a great member. And how we communicate that very matter of factly, and very upfront and it becomes part of our onboarding process. So members know this is okay. Does that makes sense? Okay. The next thing you want to consider in your onboarding process is what actions help a member feel more invested in or committed to the community? What actions help a member feel more invested in or committed to a community? If you remember back to a previous lesson, I mentioned that Muriel talked about how there are certain products that invite us to store data in them. That's what this is as well. What can you get your members to put into the community as quickly as possible to create that sense of investment and commitment. It could be as simple as filling out your profile completely. Members who don't fill out their profile don't stick around, they don't engage. Right? Or they turn into trolls like Twitter eggs. Right? We don't want that. So coming back and saying hey make sure you put in your profile picture, tell us where you're from, put your website into your profile. These are very, very simple things but they help people feel more committed. Adding an introductory post, telling people how to introduce themselves. That adds to commitment. Posting that first question, posting a story, sharing a photo, these are all things that help people feel more committed to the community. So yours might be a little bit different again. For you a lot of it might just be the boilerplate things and that's totally fine. But I want you to ask yourself that question and get creative. What are the kinds of things that have made people feel more invested or committed in the past? And how can you get new members to replicate those actions as quickly as possible. Okay so that's kind of another way to think about is look at your past members, if you already have an existing community that you're trying to make better or maybe you've got a great set of customers that you're kind of building into a community, what are the kinds of things that they've done in relation to your brand, in relation to your product, in relation to each other, that have added to that sense of investment and commitment. Do they show up to live events on a regular basis? Have they met you in person? Have they met other members in person? Like these are all things you can build into, maybe a really deep, onboarding process. But an onboarding process nonetheless. Okay? So in your workbook, make sure you're brainstorming as many of these things as possible. You're not gonna end up using all of them as we head into the next lesson, but you are going to be pulling from them. So having a lot is going to help you create a really robust onboarding process.
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.