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Invision

10 Easy Steps to Successfully Grow Your Online Community

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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. 

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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 IPS 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?

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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 multiple use of one piece in different 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. 

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