With so many new community platforms and tools out there, it can be hard to choose which one is best for your community. This can be very stressful. Switching costsis even more difficult. Is it better to spend moneyon a custom-made solution, or to start with, choose an out of the box solution? How do you move all the social capital you build up on one platform to another as you grow?
If being honest, you all want to stop using social mediaand start using our own real estate instead. Because social media platforms have become so ingrained in our habits, it's almost like it's a "ritual."
But you can move away from them for community. You just need a plan. People in your community will be happy to move to a new place as long as you make the value proposition clear.
But if you don't have the moneyor need for a separate app, there are a lot of community platforms out there that you can use instead. Some of these platforms offer a custom domain and a white-labeled solution, which is the next best thing.
Changing platforms should not be a surprise to your community. This is how it works: Make sure you don't work on this project in secret and then surprise your friends when it's done! If your community membersdon't use your new platform, it doesn't matter how good it looks or how easy it is to use. Remember that community is about the people, so don't forget about that. Make them a part of the process from the start. Share why you're thinking about switching platforms and ask for their thoughts by taking a survey. Find out what features, tools, and contentthey like about your current platform and what they'd like to see changed.
It's very important to get the go-ahead from your superusers early on so that they can be on board. Share mockups with them, get them into the beta, and let them be a part of the whole process.
These are the people who will help you convince other people in the community that the move is a good idea and that everyone should be excited about the new platform. This is even better if you can get some of your founding membersto help with this project.
It's important for your community to know that this is still their home when you move to a new platform. Make them feel as at home in the new space as they did in their old one. The best way to do this is to move some of the most popular content, keep the community's rules, and keep the same brand name. To help people who used the old platform a lot find similar tools on the new one, show them what they used and show them how touse them. That's not all. You also want the new platform to feel different. There should be a big difference between the new space and the old one.
During, before, and after the switch, make sure to make a public announcement about it. Plan to shut down your old community space for 2-3 weeks after your new one starts up. Tell your community that your site is going to close and that they should save or move anything they want to keep. You can set your community to only allow posts from admins. You can even throw a virtual goodbye party and remember all the good times you had together there. Close up shop and move on.
Make sure to add links to your new space so that anyone who finds your old one can go there instead.
Switching to a new community platform is a big change, so be prepared for people to be unhappy and say no. In no matter how hard you try, there will be people in your community who don't like the new platform and won't be happy with the way the new one works. You should be aware of this and set realistic expectations with your boss and other people who have a say in your work.
When Discordchanged its logo from A to B, a lot of people had a hard time with it. People will be mad about everything. Learn to pay attention to the important things and not the tantrums.
Manage expectations and help the people who are involved understand any possible roadblocks. Let them know that you expect to see a drop in the number of people who sign up. When you switch platforms, you're automatically deleting and getting rid of people who signed up a long time ago but didn't come back. There is less of a group of people, but your retention rate goes way up. As long as you're not in the businessof making vanity numbers, this shouldn't bother you at all! It's also a good idea to make sure your team is ready for some criticism. It doesn't matter how much they love the new features. People will still find small things to complain about even if they love the new features. It's fine! A lot of people will get used to the new platform over time.
Keep the lines of communication open during the move, so that everyone can stay in touch. There should be an easy-to-see message that tells people where to go if they miss the boat when the majority of the community has done the same thing. People who haven't been on the radio for a long time might come across the wrong channel. Everyone should go to your new community.
Prove the new community space's worth. In the same way you market your products or services, you need to let people know where you are and how they can help! It's up to you whether you choose to tweet, email, or pigeon. Continue to grow your audience as you would with the old platform. Some loyal old members may have left. It is possible to replace them if they did not jump. Your community can be healthy wherever it is if you follow the advice in this article. A community isn't just a bunch of people congregated in one place (digitally). It's about the bonds formed within. It seems to me that strong community connections translate well across platforms. Determining how sticky your community is is a great test. All else is vanity.