We recently published an overview of what to expect in the first 30, 60, and 90 days of launching a customer community. In this article, we’ll provide guidance on six specific strategies we recommend you use to kickstart your community in the first month post-launch.
While some of these items do not apply to each customer community, we believe that they’ll prove valuable for a large majority. Whether you take these practices and implement them as we present them here, or use them as a starting point to formulate your own strategy is entirely up to you—regardless, good luck with your first month!
1. Be Prescriptive in Your Communication
Early on, your users will still be working on getting their bearings in your community—just as you and your team of moderators are learning to be effective community administrators. Your users may need guidance on where to go for what information. They will most likely not fully understand the cadence and type of communication you will be engaging them with, and most certainly not have a good understanding of how and where to ask their questions. With this in mind, you should structure your early content strategy around prescriptiveness and clarity.
This means that you should keep your posts short and to the point. Use clear, unambiguous language and show users where you want them to go. Share with them an article that includes a screenshot or short video of where to ask their product questions, where to find best practices, and where to connect with members in your community with similar use cases.
2. Update Your Landing Pages Often and Keep Them Fresh
Your landing page acts as your users’ daily ‘first impression’ of your community. It should certainly make it simple for your users to navigate around not only your community but also your product and other parts of your customer-facing technology suite.
You can do this by using the Featured Topics widget to highlight specific posts and updating the widget with new topics often. Please keep in mind that the content you are highlighting does need to be ‘new content’ to the community itself—rather, it is new content that you are featuring through the widget. The widget should feature prominently on your community’s landing page and act as a sort of ‘quick updates since your last visit’ type of communication for your users. Try to update the content you feature at least once a week in the beginning, and include engaging visuals (either an image or a GIF) to draw users in. Highlight anywhere from four to six topics in total, with one or two taking center stage as a full-width topic.
3. Send out Surveys and Ask for Feedback
Much like your users, you will want to learn all you can in your early stages. Therefore, we recommend making a plan to run some sort of engagement around collecting data via surveys or roundtables.
You can set up surveys via your Third Party Scripts to have them pop up for users to complete or via HTML widgets to ask for participation on your various landing and custom pages. In these surveys, you could ask your users about their initial impressions, how they are getting used to the community, or simply what they think so far. However, we recommend that you ask pointed and targeted questions to help you evaluate your early strategies and also identify shortcomings of said strategies. Asking questions like, ‘How easy is it for you to find the information you need?’ or ‘Do you find our content engaging and interesting?’ are great to gauge your users’ interest as well as their willingness to return in the future.
Holding weekly or bi-weekly roundtable discussions is also a great way to get more input from your users. You can advertise these via the Events module and also feature an article about the upcoming roundtables in your Featured Topics widget. This will give it great visibility and also encourage more users to participate. While you could certainly invite specific segments of your user base to attend, making this as inclusive as possible is a great way to engage all your users early on. However, you also want to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate, so limiting the overall number of attendees is advisable. In these roundtables, you should encourage participation and also share questions ahead of time, so users can formulate their thoughts as they use your community. Forming questions around themes (searchability, amount of content, types of content, etc.) is a great approach and will ensure that you get the information you want.
4. Use Email Campaigns
Email Campaigns can play a crucial role in reaching all of your users. In the early stages of your community journey, a good number of your users may not have yet built the habit of visiting your community with their questions or going there regularly to get news and updates—both about your company and the product. Therefore, utilizing email campaigns is crucial to regularly engaging all of your registered users.
In the first couple of months, you can set up a recurring bi-weekly newsletter in which you share the hot topics of the past couple of weeks, as well as advertise any other key learnings, events, and maybe some new groups or categories users can participate in. Furthermore, you should feel empowered to create some CTAs for your users in these emails, reducing the barriers to entry and making it simpler for them to engage with the content you want them to engage with.
Functionally, the Email Campaigns feature makes this quite simple for you, as you can duplicate existing emails and simply update the content. We also recommend that you create some more targeted email communications using the Segments functionality of the Customer Community platform, identifying certain audiences amongst your user base and then sending said audiences more specific emails, with relevant content.
5. Leave No Question Unanswered
As you open up your community and your various teams encourage your users to begin asking questions there, you will find more and more users taking advantage of this functionality. This, of course, is a positive outcome! It will reduce the burden on your various internal teams—especially Support, Product, and Customer Success—and will not only allow your users to support each other but also for you to take a one-to-many approach with the various elements of your Support strategy. However, you also want to make sure that the questions being posed get answered.
There is a balance you will want to find between allowing your community enough time to answer the questions and the questioner—and it will most likely take some time to find the sweet spot. In the beginning, we recommend that no question go unanswered for more than 24 hours (one business day). This will ensure that users feel like they can turn to the community for answers as well as give the other members of your community a chance to respond themselves. One strategy to activate your moderation team is to create a filtered view in the Content Overview that highlights unanswered questions. Your moderators should check this view once or twice a day, and then either answer the questions themselves or pull in another resource to provide the information to the user. Utilizing an efficient internal strategy such as this will build trust amongst your users that they will get their questions answered.
6. Involve Teammates: The More the Merrier
By launch, you will ideally have established some initial guidelines for your internal team members’ use of the community and the various team’s areas of responsibility. Nonetheless, we would encourage you to have as many of your team members as possible participate in the community. Especially in the beginning, this will increase your overall user numbers and ensure that the conversations are lively and engaging. Furthermore, asking specific team members to author content around certain topics is another great way to bring value to the community from teams that may not have an immediate stake in the community itself. It will also give the impression to your users that a more varied set of folks are using the community, since the topics and replies will be written by a larger variety of users.
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