On 19th January 2022, we at LikeMinds hosted our second roundtable on the topic, 'Online Community Marketing'. The focus of these roundtables is to have a candid conversation in small groups for everyone to pick up a topic where we try and brainstorm together to see if we can come out with tangible insights for community builders.
Our last round table was held on 4th January 2022, where we talked about ""How to identify a niche and problem while building a community"" and in this roundtable, we extended that conversation.
Below is a link to the blog on the first roundtable discussion:
Pre-launch Online Community Marketing Efforts Of 'CommunityHood'
In the beginning, Nipun (Founder and CEO of LikeMinds) talked about his experience of starting 'CommunityHood', and then the floor for the roundtable was opened for discussions.
We used to do a lot of events with different types and formats of community builders. So, we had hosted about 35+ events even before we launched 'CommunityHood'.
We also built a strong social media presence with thousands of followers across different social media platforms.
We also created a lot of resources, blogs, courses, guides, etc. In fact, we did a comprehensive community report to explain ""The State of Indian Community Management"" where we had gotten a lot of community builders to participate in it.
These are some of the things that worked for our community, at least to create some pre-launch reputation building. And what we also did was, while we created a lot of these content and resources, we also focused heavily on building an email list via our newsletter.
Our Pre-launch Efforts
We still send these weekly insights to our subscribers and the different resources we created. Now, we have started marketing these resources aggressively. As a result, we created a list of about 15k potential members.
It is really useful that you have some followership, some email list, or some audience that already respects you, where you have a brand to at least some extent when you are starting a community.
We also talked to some of the people who were aligned with the mission of 'CommunityHood' right before launching it. This helped us in getting volunteers who have been actively contributing in various event formats and otherwise.
The following community builders led the roundtable:
Vineet Nandan Gupta - Facebook Certified CM with Expertise in Community strategy & Growth consulting.
Ruche Mittal - Founder of HEN, a community of Indian Women Entrepreneurs.
Jayshree Agrawal - Growth team at APNA, the fastest unicorn in India.
Moses Sam Paul - Co founder of TheThirdPillarClub.
Nirav Chahwala - Creative Entrepreneur & Founder of BRANDFLUENZERS Community.
Prateeksha Kedia - Founder of 3 communities empowering more than 1.5 lakh members in their journey of parenting.
Pre-launch Online Community Marketing Activities To Focus On
These are some of the very interesting results. First of all, thanks to Nirav for suggesting us this tool and that's how we learn as well. This is a very interesting tool where you can learn from the reviews of the whole community.
It is no doubt that Events have become the biggest common theme across different pre-launch activities that people generally do. The surveys and webinars are also the other kinds of events.
Ads are again getting very popular within the communities. If you have the ability to spend running ads and quickly see the behavior, it is also a great way to generate the buzz.
However, one of the most interesting results is the Content Strategy Plan for one year. It came out in the discussion led by Vineet and Moses. One of the members said, ""If you have a plan for one year, that is ideal. Because in a large organization, we put out 90 days. So, the one-year plan is something very prominent out there. If you have a content strategy plan for one year, you start executing it, instead of waking up daily and wondering what to post for the job to the world.""
Some Quick Learnings And Anecdotes
Ruche was the first one to join the roundtable conversation. Following are some learnings from her community-building journey:
Most of us came to this understanding that what's helping is to do events. When we do events, we collect databases and those databases help us connect with people through email marketing.
What also helped was to hang around other communities where our target was sitting. Being active on those communities and connecting with our target audience there helps us.
Pop-ups are another suggestion that came along. Payaswani shared that on her website, when they put pop-ups, they see more people engaging versus just leaving the field.
One more thing that people spoke about was offers. So, when you are launching your community, there can be a pre-launch offer. For example, Yerramilli said that when they were launching Zupay, they offered some Zupay coins to people which they can use later.
Ruche tried this for HEN as well, when they launched HEN 2.0. They put out one launch offer where the lifelong 'X' amount would remain the same. It helped her community get larger audience attraction.
When you are giving an offer of a lifetime, you are in a way locking certain members for the long term so that you have a critical mass. To me, it seems like a masterstroke!
In Ruche's words, ""It all started with always expressing your gratitude to the first movers genuinely. That's something that we keep in mind forever. All the first movers should get recognized and this was the best thing we could do. And in six months, we are about to increase our prices. So, in six months we are almost there to show our first movers that they invested. It's like gold, and it's now increasing.""
How To Market Your Community Even Before Launching it?
Different Challenges While Building A New Community
Followings are the challenges talked about in the roundtable discussion led by Vineet and Moses:
The discussion was very fruitful, right from the fact that Rohit said, ""He started with whatsapp group, it started as a networking platform and later on, it scaled to something very big and he has been building communities for 20 years per se.""
Aletheia, who is a part of the travel and art community, joined us from Singapore and what she shared was pretty interesting. In her words, ""You connect with people, you put the newsletters and the information out, and the initial members, they enable referrals to own the community and take it forward.""
An essential takeaway from the group would be to find your initial members, be consistent with the content, and enable them to own the group and take it forward. Once that critical mass is reached, you get to understand the whole piece.
According to Moses, the round table had people at different stages. Some are just starting out, some have been building the community for 15-20 years, just through WhatsApp groups.
Then, the question of content strategy came up. One thing about understanding these tools are the interfaces through which these community members interact with you. It could be whatsapp, telegram, slack, discord, etc.
Based on the kind of community that you're building, for example, for a community revolving around crypto and blockchain, discord works because these people are already there. But for most Indians, opening discord would be a new thing. Have a new community on WhatsApp, use that as a captive mechanism at the top of the funnel, and from there, you move them into either your app or discord.
So, that's something to look at. Interfaces with your community members as not just an app or a web but also all these different things that are available. You start there, and then if you want to build your own app, you can go ahead and do that kind of thing.
Even if you are not ready to start a community, just have a whatsapp group with your power readers or power event attendees and see if people are finding value in peer-to-peer conversations.
Top Three Things To Do While Starting A New Community
Following are the hacks shared by Aletheia based on what she has done in the past and what she has learned today:
The very first thing to do is to create a big funnel to start creating a database. Depending on what and where your community already is, that database would look different.
So, whether it's WhatsApp and telephone numbers, or whether it's an email database and it's going live on MailChimp, or whether it's a database of Instagram followers, it differs per community.
Another thing to do is identify early adopters in your community that can be leaders and can also step up as volunteers that you can work with more, and also collaborate with. Give them a little more ownership so that they can build a community together with you.
The last thing to do is to build a 90 day content strategy plan. 90 days might seem too little to someone experienced but to an individual starting a community and trying to get traction, 90 days is like an insane effort.
To be able to sustain something for 90 days, where you just feel like you're talking to yourself and you still need to keep doing takes a lot of persistence.
A very helpful resource for the same is Moses' workbook. You just need to fill up the excel sheet and you come up with a content strategy. His handbook is called 'Growth Engine Handbook.'
How To Create An Online Community Marketing Funnel?
There are multiple ways to create a growth funnel. However, the best way according to Moses is the 'AARRR Pirate Metrics framework'. He has been working with a start-up, where he helped them grow from an 8 member team to a 185 member company.
So, AARRR stands for acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral and describes a funnel. Someone should be aware of who you are and then once they come to your website, you are activating them. Activation is them giving you their email id or creating a profile on your platform. Once you delve deeper, you can customize it based on your need.
How many people are in the stage where they are considering taking a paid course or a subscription within your community, and what's the content that you have to provide to make sure that the decision falls in your favor? They should choose your community, your product, and your service ideally.
This brings us to the end of our roundtable discussion. Stay tuned for the next one!
Before leaving, if you want to learn from the experience of leading community builders themselves or if you feel you can help other community builders in upskilling themselves, then join 'CommunityHood' today.