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Joel R

10 Easy Steps to Successfully Grow Your Online Community

This is the January edition of my 2020 Community Management series to help Invision Communities of all sizes build successful communities.  This month's article focuses on 10 easy steps to help clients become successful.  

Read other community management articles and company updates in the Invision Community Blog, a free service to help Invision Community clients start and manage successful communities. 

The goal of every client here in the Invision peer community, myself included, is to launch and run successful communities. 

Whether I’m going to be able to achieve that success in the new year depends entirely on trying these 10 steps.  I know if that if I stick to these steps, then my community will grow – and I know if you follow along, your community will too. 

10. Ignore Google

Google makes me laugh; Google makes me cry; Google makes me want to pitch myself into the freezing icy waters of the San Francisco bay.  But focusing on Google’s up-and-down volatility isn’t what is going to make my community successful.  It’s a distraction, and at worst, a wrong commitment of attention. 

9.  Remember My Past Sins

I’ve made every mistake imaginable – including over-the-top themes, too many customizations, and chasing after dream goals.  The very worst is not making a database backup, then losing everything. Most of us came up through the School of Hard Knocks, and we should learn from those experiences.

8.   Treat Every Person as Gold

Members are the beating heart of your community, and are truly what makes your community special.  I’m committed to taking time out every day to message, comment, or reply to 3 new people to cultivate new relationships. 


7.  Practice x3

Nobody is perfect the first time they try something.  Thomas Edison famously stated that he found 10,000 ways for a lightbulb to not work, and 1 way that it did.  Whether you’re publishing new content or designing a template, refine it multiple times.   

6.  Start as a Guest

I don’t do this enough and I always find something surprising when I do. Either something is missing, something can be improved, or something is wrong.  The guest experience is the very first impression a visitor will have, and it can shape all of his future expectations. 

5.  Less is More

It’s easy to get sidetracked and to let your community get bloated with content and features.  It’s better to be amazing in one domain expertise: you offer the most authority, the most trusted content, the latest news, or the most comprehensive overview.  Excite members by being the best at what you do.  De-emphasize, consolidate, or archive everything else as needed.  

4.  It’s Not the Feature; Its What the Feature Does

It’s easy to think that because Invision Community ships with a new feature, then you should use it.  You don’t.  You should always pre-qualify the feature by asking how the feature can help you better engage with your community, how does it engage, and how can you customize the feature even better for your members?


3.  Bring Your Superusers Along

Even though I invite my superusers into a special private feedback group, I don’t leverage their knowledge, experience, or perspective enough. I recently asked for feedback about a particular feature, and it turns out none of them use it!      

2.  Experiment & Learn

There’s always something new to learn, explore, and implement.  It's my personal goal to enrich my personal skillsets in areas like leadership, team building, mentoring, emotional intelligence, organizational behavior, and psychology for more effective community management.  On the promotion side, you can learn about email marketing, digital marketing, social media, creating rich media, and more.  On the content side, you can always improve your content writing skills, emotive writing, keyword research, and the conversion of one content piece into multiple media and formats.  

1.  Enjoy the Journey

For any community admin who sticks with his community for several years, you can get burned out.  I know the feeling, and I like to periodically remind myself about what I enjoy running the community.  There’s so much to learn and do that it can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to take every day in 2020 one day at a time. 



Recommended Comments

@Joel R These are great! Thanks for sharing. 😀

Personally, I drop #10 from the list. 

These days, many admins see Google as their Achilles heel. Yes.

But, Google could be your BEST friend. 

If you focus on Google ... if you spend time improving on site SEO ... you could come out GROWING.

Let me offer an example...

Heather lost about 70% of her organic traffic in the past few years due to all the Google Algorithm Updates. Heather has thousands and thousands of topics. For this purpose, let's put this number at 100,000.

On avg, Heather lost about 100 visits (avg) per topic /wk just on her top 10,000 topics.

That's 1 million visits LOST per wk!

Questions Heather should be asking herself...

How many NEW CONTENT would I have to create to get back 1 million visits per wk? 10,000? 5,000?
How long will it take to complete?
How much would this cost me (money, time)?

FACT: If you seen a drop in organic traffic and didn't do anything about it's likely it will continue to decline.

FACT: Google is FREE. It takes work but it's worth it when done right.

Soooooooo .... Don't ignore Google. 

Oh, by the way - Heather decided to focus on Google + New Content. Heather is now GROWING organic traffic despite the latest January Core Update.

Edited by GTServices
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On 2/4/2020 at 5:17 PM, Ryan Ashbrook said:

If you are on Community in the Cloud, then routine backups are done automatically. Otherwise, you should ask your host on their backup policies.

Thank you. My question isn’t about whether or not backups are made. I would like to know if I can have an zipped copy of the backup or not. I have the Community in the Cloud. Every time I ask for a copy, I’m told I don’t need one. Which is odd since I’d like to believe I own my data.

Edited by Orioni
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