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      Communities

      Starting Vs Scaling an Online Community: What’s the Difference?

      Jun 21, 2022

      5 minute read

      When you think about building an online community, you must ensure that they are engaging destinations for people so that they keep coming back for more.

      But if you already have a community in place, you need to constantly work towards growing it by inviting more participants and by keeping the existing members engaged. In order to scale an online community and reap business growth, it is essential to solidify the core of your community.

      In both these cases, you will be faced with a plethora of challenges on the way, but fret not, we’ve got you covered.

      Let’s take a look at the potential challenges that you might face while starting and scaling an online community for your organization.

      What’s the Difference Between Starting and Scaling an Online Community?

      Starting a community lays a foundation for your brand to communicate with your audience while scaling a community essentially means to grow it using different strategies and plans.

      When starting a community, you, as a brand, will first have to set a series of goals that you wish to achieve through your community and select a suitable platform as per your business needs.

      Once that’s done, the next step in the process is to grow your community and attract active participants to contribute to your community on a daily basis. That’s how you will scale your online community.

      Starting a Community and its Challenges

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      An online community is a place where customers of an organization can feel heard and included in the processes that go on in a community. It’s a platform where members build relationships by cross-collaborating with each other on a shared interest.

      For organizations, an online community serves as an extension of their brand. It is a channel where brands can learn more about their customers and gain deeper insights into their behaviors. Since an online community is an open space for users to engage, it brings forth the opportunity for brands to obtain valuable customer feedback and make product/service enhancements.

      However, you might come across some challenges while on the road to start an online community, such as:

      1. Creating Engaging Content: Posting the same type of content repetitively is sure to bore your customers. As a result, you might end up losing members and that can impact your engagement numbers. In order to combat this, you must strategize and create unique content that actually addresses your users’ needs and answer their queries. Additionally, you can also create content in the form of interactive videos, GIFs, surveys, podcasts, and more that will keep your user’s interest intact and keep them coming back for more.

      2. Leveraging User-Generated Content: It is important to divert your attention towards the conversations that go on in an online community for useful user behavior insights. The goal is for community members to answer each other’s queries, which ultimately leads to reduced support costs and faster resolution. When users participate to help each other by suggesting possible solutions, this is a crucial aspect of online communities that keep them vibrant throughout. And you, as a community manager, should adjust your strategies as necessary to encourage conversations between you, as a brand, and the members.

      3. Encouraging User Participation: Growing a community is definitely tough, but finding those active community members is even tougher. When your community is new, your members might hesitate to initiate conversations or participate in your community. It can be challenging to make new members comfortable and encourage active participation. To row through this, you must ensure that you communicate with your members on a regular basis, motivate them to contribute, and more.

      With the right solution to these challenges handy, you can surely grow your community. Your community members are the builders of your online community. To ensure that it is always thriving, you must take steps to scale it.

      Scaling a Community and its Challenges

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      You’ve grown your community from zero to a certain number of members and for that, you deserve a pat on the back. But even after you’ve done that, you’ve got to keep working on growing your community.

      To foster a stellar community that will serve your business goals, it takes a team of passionate experts listening to your community’s needs and desires.

      However, scaling your community can get challenging and for that, we’ve got a list of the most common challenges.

      1. Increasing Levels of Spam: As an online community grows, you are much more likely to encounter more incidents of spam and abuse. As your community grows, it becomes an easy target for those looking to provoke a reaction. Sometimes it’s also the nature of discussions that can provide more opportunities for people to disagree or even attack one another, leading to a negative environment that can take away the sense of ‘community’ among members. To combat this, you need to first define what your community is passionate about because if you don’t truly understand your community, how can you help them or even engage them? Once you define that you can set the tone and guidelines for your community.

      2. Declining Quality of Community Discussions: When your online community is new it may attract the most hardcore fans of the topic who have considerable expertise and can engage in high-quality discussions. However, as the community scales, it attracts more newbies and those who are less interested or maybe not too aware of certain concepts. These beginner-level discussions can cause a decline in the quality of discussions and can lead to regular, expert members drifting away to other community groups or, eventually, leaving your community. As a solution, you need to ensure that you highlight the high-quality content shared by members that is helpful for beginners and even work towards encouraging experts by using gamification techniques.

      3. Increasing Data Privacy and Legal Threats: As a community scales, it becomes a hotspot for hackers and phishers who wish to harm your community. A community holds many personal details about community members and it’s the brand’s responsibility to keep those details safe and secure. Data privacy is a rising concern among users and users are reluctant to share data. If users’ personal data is leaked, members of the community can lose trust and may take legal action against the community. To fight this challenge, you must abide by data protection norms and be transparent about them. Also, you must ensure robust data security practices to safeguards your users’ valuable data.

      Starting and scaling a community are two aspects of a brand’s journey to build trust and boost brand value among customers. A thriving community is a result of active members’ contribution, respectful interactions, and the entry of new members into the community, be it while building or scaling a community.

      Need the trade secrets to start or scale your online community effectively? Let’s talk.

      Team Grazitti has extensive experience in building multidimensional online communities that empower you to take your business to the next level. To know more about our Community Management as a Service (CMaaS) expertise, drop us a line at info@grazitti.com and we’ll take it from there.

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