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How building an online community can be tussle between engagement and growth



A community is as good as its engagement, however the less people the less engagement. This dilemma of choosing whether to prioritise time into building internal engagement or growing external membership was quashed after watching How To Build An Engaged Online Community w/Tom Ross by the Futur on YouTube.



New Members Joining


Over the last 10 days, we've thankfully increased our membership by around 100%. This was due to two physical stalls we held at WeWork's showcase days, as well as being permitted to post the group link in a trading/investing group.


We're confident that we have a scalable formula of attracting people. Focussing on going to at least 2 entrepreneurial networking events per month will help us meet our ideal future members.


Watching the video with Tom Ross, Tom shared that after speaking to Dom McGregor (Co-Founder of Social Chain) that the number of "critical mass" until communities reach a level of self-sustaining growth is 200 members.


Tom, didn't clarify if this number is the same for both paid & non-paid communities, but I'd assume it may be higher for free communities (as ours currently is). Nonetheless, I think the sentiment holds true and I look forward to discovering our critical mass number.


Still, if you can get people to join but not engage you don't have a community but instead a collection of usernames. The later provides no value and I hate the idea of not providing value to my members.


No One Likes Tumble Weed


We've all seen a Western movie scene where theres nothing but sand, sun and tumbleweed. Not a sound in sight. Although people are joining our entrepreneurs mental toughness club, we need to ask "what are they joining?".


Our engagement rate (measured on weekly conversations started by proportion of group members) is currently around 7% .


If the proportion of engaged members stays the same, and new members join we have a larger community but our engagement rate will decrease. If the proportion of engaged members increases and we don't gain new members, we have a smaller but more engaged community. If the proportion of engaged members increase and more new members join we have a larger engaged community. The last option is the ambition.


Tom Ross also echoed the potential danger of tumble weed as he said no member wants to join a dead community.


This can be detrimental in leaving a positive first impression ( especially as we are beta testing and want to provide as much value during this trial period).


How we plan to bring them together


So as you can see to grow a community you can't have increasing members without engagement.


We plan to bring these two forces together primarily through rapid feedback and implementation; member phone conversations; increased informal conversations with our members to create opportunities for engagement and attending entrepreneurial networking events to meet our members.


Constantly measuring our engagement rate compared to our growth rate will help us determine what needs to be tweaked to add more value to our mental toughness community for entrepreneurs.


If you're an early stage entrepreneur and want to partake in our journey, click the link to join now!

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