Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the world’s top researchers on positive psychology, gave a Ted Talk on how the key to happiness is finding one’s flow. Flow, he explains, is “the creative moment when a person is completely involved in an activity for its own sake.”
Finding the flow in our personal lives is just as important as finding the flow in our professional lives. This is why it’s important to have an optimal workflow, especially in the community space.
Earlier this week, I had the fun opportunity of co-hosting a webinar with David Spinks, co-founder of CMX. Together we discussed the community manager’s playbook, which includes what I like to call “the snowball effect.”
You can watch the full webinar here:
At Mobilize, we believe in the power of an optimized workflow. We’ve seen many communities and movements succeed when they excel at the following: recruiting, training, operations, belonging and scale. Each stage is critical to community success which is why we’ve developed a platform to support each one.
Let’s take a deeper look at the importance of each stage and how to succeed at each one when you’re building and managing a community.
Step 1. Recruiting
In order for your community to succeed, you have to identify the right people. Ask them: Why did they join the community? What motivates them to continue to engage? Eventually, you’ll be able to identify common trends which will help you recruit more people with common goals and interests.
One way to gather insights from a community is to create a live member directory of existing members. During the recruitment process, you can create a registration form with questions that will help you—and other members—learn more about one another.
Docker is a great example of a community that excels at recruitment. They have an internal team of 250 employees, but really their network consists of thousands of people supporting their brand. The container software company hosts more than 270 meetups in over 70 countries around the world.
In Docker’s registration form, they ask potential community members basic profile information, and they want to be involved: as a speaker, meetup organizer, beta tester for new products, and more. This approach allows them to verify their motivation right away so they can direct them to relevant sub-groups and programs.
Trust, the most important component of building a community, starts with the training process. You have to set up your members for success. One great way to do this is by creating a playbook for them to follow. The playbook should include all of the information your members need to know in advance. The content of that playbook will depend on the complexity of the activity you expect your members to engage with. For example, if this is a social forum you’ll want to share the community guidelines and rules.
Prezi is a great example of a thriving training program. After reaching 75 million users, they created the Prezi Experts Programs: a modern version of a reseller program. They reached out to freelancers and agencies who are making a living out of designing beautiful presentations and trained them how to sell a Prezi business offering. Prezi has been using Mobilize to create a direct channel between their internal team and hundreds of these experts.
For community managers, the most important daily task is to ensure that members participate and stay engaged.
In order to sustain engagement, it’s important to build a plan with all of the actions, activities and milestones that you expect your community to go through. Prioritize these activities from the easiest to the hardest. Then, look at all of your activities and build a communication plan.
Salesforce is a great example of a community with stellar community operation management. With over 5,000 apps on the App Exchange, and more and more being built everyday, Salesforce is very strategic about managing their developer relation programs. They segment them into groups and subgroups, have a specific communication plan for each program in which they share updates about the programs, perks, product updates and provide them with ongoing support to ensure each developer and evangelist is well-supported and informed.
Reaching the stage of belonging depends on the type of community you’re creating. Most communities start as a network of people, not a community. These are people who aren’t connected to each other yet.
The moment in which you turn your network into a community is when you’ve reached the highest level of trust. Creating a sense of belonging starts by making your community members feel connected to you as a leader, and organization. Together, you can create a shared vision and mission.
MeetUp is an amazing example of what happens when you create a strong sense of belonging.
When the company went through the rebranding process, they reached out to their community and asked them to share feedback, create their own symbols, customize them, and make the new MeetUp brand something they all own together.
Once your community is running smoothly, it’s time to scale. One way to do that is toidentify the key contributors to promote your community. At the same time, you can empower them to take on leadership roles.
These leaders are people who can help you moderate the forums and sub-forums, create meet-ups all around the world, train new members and more.
That’s why Etsy created the Etsy city programs. They found the top sellers, gave them a budget and trained them to build local communities. They support each other by hosting events, and exchanging ideas on how to maximize the opportunity that comes with being an Etsy seller.
An optimized workflow is the key to a successful community. If you need guidance to creating the perfect workflow for your community.