In their 28 page whitepaper "Der perfekte Launch", the guys from mixxt provide the essentials for launching your own community. So, what‘s the difference between a good and bad launch? Here‘s what you should be doing and avoiding for that perfect launch.
1. Establish a core team
You need to invite a group of 10 - 30 people to the community before the launch that will form the core team. In case of an intranet community, invite different colleagues from different departments to join the core team. There should be activities in your community before the launch. Generate content with the core team, to make sure the community doesn‘t look empty. The core team will also help to find mistakes and possible improvements and optimizations which can be taken care of before the launch. Make sure the core team consists not only of colleagues, who‘ve been involved in the community project, but other „neutral“ colleagues or externals as well. The feedback from these persons is not biased and particularly valuable. Once you‘ve launched the community, the core team still plays an important role, as they will be the first ones to be active in the community. They already have ideas and content and can assist and attract others.
You should also think about establishing partnerships with other communities who have related interests. You can offer your partners exposure within your community, and they in turn will do the same for you.
2. The first impression
The first impression counts, as always. Make sure you take care of details - everyone in the core team should have completed profiles, with good photos and content. Profiles are just one thing, if you‘re staring a market place, you need the first 20 classified ads before the launch, you need to have reviews before you start, as well as comments, feedback and so on.
3. The launch-period
Better than one fixed date is to choose a beta phase for launching and communicate that. This suggests that not everything needs to be ready, but that there is work in progress, as you will have one or the other bug fixes etc. People will not expect perfection in this time span. Three months is a good time span for the launch period.
4. Community management in the beta phase
In the beginning you should focus strongly on community management, as this will make managing the community easier later on. Users have their own life cycle, from being a new user to a returning user, up to being a senior user. Make sure to look after new community members in such a way that you will then later have great senior users. For example, you should welcome new users actively and in a personalized way, offer them assistance and ask them to complete their profiles. Involving new members in discussions is also a good idea. Also ask them for their opinion and feedback, or ask them to get involved in projects. Or what about competitions where prizes can be won? If you have power users amongst your community members - these could be people with many followers on Twitter or LinkedIn - contact them personally and ask them to contribute to the community, give feedback and what they would recommend in terms of improvements.
You should have a kind of starter packet for new users, as this ensures that they will know how to behave and contribute to the community. This could consist of a welcome message, introducing the community management team, or information about how the content users contribute will be used, including copyright and privacy issues and a short overview of your community guidelines.
6. Praise and acknowledgement
Public praise and acknowledgement of users who contribute often or who invite others to join your platform is essential. Such an acknowledgement can additionally boost user’s efforts. They become less hesitant and more eager to continue engaging themselves. You can also choose users of the month and use their content for a newsletter or present it on your landing page.
7. Communicate goals reached and success
Announce goals which have been reached, and keep team and community members up to date and informed. It‘s important to share this type of information, because it makes members feel like a valued part of the community. Examples could be: „We now have 250 Users!“ or „50 contributed articles“ and so on. This information should ideally motivate users to contribute to the community again.
Especially industry specific and niche newsletters are of interest to those who are attracted by your themes. If you‘re offering a to-the-point piece of information with what‘s new, people will embrace this. First, establish a few categories which will appear in all newsletters and focus on interesting and useful information. Just keep it specific and relevant. Decide on frequency and stick to that. And don‘t forget to link the information back to the content on your community. You want more traffic there, after all.
9. Growth and Development
In the beta phase, don‘t start with all functionalities and all categories at once. Rather start small and show your young community that there is growth and development. Also in the beginning there won‘t be so many contributors, so if you have 20 categories, the result will be that your platform will appear empty. Start with a few selected ones, and then add functionalities and categories. After the beta- phase, you also need to continue to develop your platform further. (Source: mixxt.de)
By Anjum Siddiqi