5 common challenges for community success
Here are some of the most common challenges we all face when building a community and some possible solutions to help you create the most successful site.
1. "If we build it they will come". This is a common pitfall when building a community because, sadly, although you've created a beautiful site that doesn't always guarantee people will visit.
The work doesn't finish once you press 'launch', in fact this is just the start, but don't be put off because by doing little and often on your site you can build an engaged audience who will keep coming back.
The main recommendation I can offer here is to make sure you have a dedicated person to manage your community. As I explained in this article, this job could be shared between 2 people, but as long as you have someone who's main responsibility it is to look after the community you're already on the road to success.
2. Going in big. The key thing to remember is that you don't have to get everything perfect before launching your site. If you have a list of everything you want your community to achieve over its lifetime, don't feel like you have to build every feature and piece of content before you let people onto the site.
The great thing about Zapnito sites is that they allow you to keep iterating and updating your community. If you try something and don't like it after launch then you don't have to stick with it, like you might have to with more traditional website building tools. I recommend that you start small, keep building and get some friendly users onto the site straight away to give you user feedback.
3. Thinking that it's traditional publishing. Quite often in a publishing setting, once the content has been released it becomes static, however with communities you can keep changing and updating; there is no single publication event. Have you written some content that you're really pleased with? Great, now how about a slidedeck, or a video or a recorded round table discussion - you can keep creating and releasing content.
Remind yourself that you can change whatever you like, you don't have to stick with the first (or even fourth) version, keep practising until you find something you're happy with. This goes for your site structure as well as content.
4. Treating it like a side project. This point links back to the first point, sometimes it's easy to think that if you build the site then people will visit and the network will look after itself in the background. Unfortunately this is not the case, if you want a community to be successful then it can't be a side project.
As with the first point, the best way to avoid this issue is to make sure you have a dedicated community manager. Also, if your company has a strategy and goals for the coming quarter/year then make sure you add the community in as part of the strategy. This way you'll get the rest of the company behind the initiative so it won't get forgotten when life gets busy.
5. Not staying up to date with the tech. It can be frustrating waiting for some development work which would really add value to your community. Keeping things fresh and offering new tools to your users is one way to keep them coming back and maintain engagement. The great thing about Zapnito is that we're constantly updating the site and releasing new features. We don't wait for specific 'release times' but instead keep releasing new work whenever it's ready.
This is a blessing and a curse, it's fantastic for you as a customer to have new features to offer your users and new ways to engage with the site, however it can be hard to keep up. The best way to keep in the know about new features is to 'follow' me here on the Zapnito community. I write a new post each time we do a release and I post monthly round ups. (If you're not a customer I also write higher level updates so that you don't have to get down and dirty with all the detail.) By following me you'll receive a notification about new content and you can keep up to date with all new development work.
I hope this has been helpful, please let me know if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org