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How to Grow an Online Community

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Getting your first 100 members

Building your own community can be a great way to establish yourself as a leader in your industry, while also setting you up to have a designated space to share your offers and get clients and sales. Creating a thriving community can be a game-changer for your business, helping you build meaningful connections and support your members in achieving their goals. I built the Boss Moms Facebook group to over 75,000 members before closing it in April 2024

Getting the initial members in your community can feel like the most daunting part of the process. In this article, I’m going to talk to you about actionable strategies to help you attract your first 100 members and set the foundation for a vibrant, engaged community that people want to share and recommend to their friends.

Setting Up Your Community

Choosing the Right Platform

First things first: where should you host your community? There are several awesome platforms to choose from, including Facebook Groups, Circle, Mighty Networks, and more. Each has its own set of pros and cons. Facebook Groups are great for ease of use and familiarity, but platforms like Circle, Kajabi, and Mighty Networks offer more customization and control. 

Think about where your audience is most active and what features you’ll need to foster engagement. Choose the platform that aligns best with your goals and what you want to create for your audience and your business. 

Consider asking your audience, which is a great way to gauge their interest in joining the community, where they would like to hang out in the community, AND build buzz about the upcoming community.

Defining Your Community’s Purpose and Values

Your community needs a clear mission and vision. What is the main goal of your group? Are you there to support moms in business, share coaching tips, or provide a space for people of a shared interest to connect and get and give tips? Define your core values and principles that will guide your community interactions. Craft a compelling community description that resonates with your target audience and attracts like-minded individuals.

Paid or Free

Depending on what stage you’re at in your business, and what the intention you have for your community, you may decide to create a free or a paid community. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. You get to decide what works for you and your goals.

A free community can be a great way to grow your audience, without creating a financial barrier to entry. A paid community allows you to have a filter to who joins, and no matter the price point, requiring an investment to join can serve as a way to filter out people that may not be as serious about being a part of the community. 

We used to run the Boss Mom Facebook group as a free community and that served us very well. It was an incredible space filled with amazing mom entrepreneurs at varying stages of business and motherhood. At some point though, due to a variety of reasons, including Facebook algorithms and an increase in bots and scammers, Facebook no longer seemed like the best place to hold the BossMom community and that’s when we decided to move to our own home, and choosing to make it a paid space wasn’t a decision we took lightly. 

Preparing for Launch

Creating Foundational Content

Before you invite anyone to join, prepare some foundational content. Develop introductory posts that explain who you are, what the community is about, and what members can expect. Craft welcome messages and guidelines to set the tone and ensure everyone understands the community rules. Plan a content calendar for the first few weeks to keep the momentum going with engaging and valuable posts.

Building a Launch Team

Identify potential founding members or ambassadors who can help you build and promote your community. Engage with peers, colleagues, and friends who share your vision. Offer incentives for their support and participation, such as exclusive content or special recognition within the community. A strong launch team can help you create buzz and attract your first members.

Attracting Your First Members

Leveraging Existing Networks

Start by reaching out to your existing network. Invite family, friends, and professional contacts who would benefit from and contribute to your community. Reach out to past clients and followers from your other platforms. Personal outreach can be very effective in encouraging those first 100 group members and building a strong foundation.

Utilizing Social Media

Promote your community on your social media profiles. Create engaging posts and stories that highlight the benefits of joining your group. Share sneak peeks of the content and interactions members can expect. Consider running targeted ads to reach your ideal audience and generate interest.

Collaborating with Influencers

Partner with influencers or thought leaders in your niche. This doesn’t have to be people with huge audiences, simply people in niches that are adjacent to yours, who’s audience would benefit from learning about you. Consider peers with similar audiences where a collaboration and cross sharing would be win/win for both of you.

Engaging and Retaining Members

Creating a Welcoming Environment

Make every new member feel special with a personalized welcome message. Depending on the size of your audience and speed of members joining the community, and your available time, you can choose to do this manually, member by member, or you can set up automations to do this using tools that allow this. 

Encourage new members to introduce themselves and participate in icebreaker activities. Establish a warm, inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels valued and heard.

Fostering Engagement

Keep the conversation going with regular, consistent posts. Host live events, Q&A sessions, and virtual meet-ups to foster interaction. Encourage member participation through polls, questions, and challenges. The more engaged your members are, the more vibrant your community will be, and the more people will share about the community to bring their people along for the journey.

Providing Value

Share valuable resources, tips, and exclusive content tailored to your members’ needs. Offer support and guidance to help them achieve their goals. Highlight member successes and testimonials to inspire and motivate others. When members see the tangible benefits of being part of your community, they’ll be more likely to stay and invite others.

Growing Your Community Beyond 100 Members

Encouraging Word-of-Mouth

Incentivize your members to invite their friends and colleagues. Create referral programs or contests to boost growth. Word-of-mouth can be incredibly powerful in attracting new members who are already primed to engage with your community.

Expanding Your Reach

Explore additional marketing channels to grow your audience. Write blog posts, pitch yourself to be interviewed on podcasts, or host events to promote your community. Continuously promote your group through various platforms and always highlight the unique benefits of joining.

Listening and Adapting

Gather feedback from your members regularly to understand their needs and improve the community experience. Be responsive to their suggestions and willing to make changes based on their input. This adaptability will ensure your community remains vibrant and your members feel valued.

Are you ready to start your own community?

Starting an online community is a excellent way to build connections, support your members, and grow your business. By setting up your community thoughtfully, preparing for a strong launch, and focusing on engagement and value, you can attract your first 100 members and beyond. 

Think about communities you’ve been a part of and loved… what elements have made the community stand out for you?

Dana Malstaff

Dana Malstaff

Dana Malstaff is the Founder of Boss Mom and creator Nurture to Convert.
She is a mother, author, speaker, messaging strategist, podcaster, blind spot reducer, and movement maker. She believes that too many brilliant moms are struggling to figure out how to grow their business while balancing all that is required to be a good mom, partner, and woman. So many moms are trying to grow their business using trends that feel inauthentic and aren't realistic for their inconsistent schedules. She has helped thousands of women become known for their brain and not their dance moves

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