"We should start investing resources into building our online community."
"Well, we need a dedicated community operations role. A budget for goodies, giveaways and some new tools to host events and boost engagement."
"How soon can we start seeing results? How big can we get our online community?"
"Well actually, I think we should keep it small. And don't expect to see any results for a while..."
Whether you're the CEO, CMO or CFO, I’m sure you've come across a similar conversation. It might have made you wonder if your community guy has any idea how businesses are run.
You've probably even questioned his performance capabilities.
But the harsh truth is that he/she's actually got a point. And this can be quite a hard pill to swallow.
What is the true meaning of scaling a community?
I want you to stop looking at your community as just another marketing campaign. You should ideally allocate a separate community team and budget from your marketing efforts.
For the first few quarters, your community is not going to make any business sense. As a community builder, I urge you to resist the temptation to scale too early.
The word "community" is often used as a euphemism for users or the audience. The first step to building a community is grounding it in a more appropriate definition.
There's a difference between opting into true engagement and passive, utilitarian use or inclusion.
Ask yourself: Is the group of people integral to realizing the end product or the end impact?
And if they're not, then it's not a community; merely a user-base.
The thing is it was very easy for us to go from 50,000 to a million or more.
Once you identify something that "clicks", it becomes very easy to ingest and egress at a fairly same CAC.
But we resisted the urge. And sometimes we also added intentional friction to stall our community from growing out of control.
The story of OTL: How they scaled their community?
Off The Ledger is an online community that intentionally keeps their community small and exclusive.
They have an application process to ensure that only finance professionals are brought into the community. The brand keeps its community tight with just around 3,000 members.
OTL is one of those communities that actually feels like a tight-knit community.
And is widely considered the #1 community for accounting professionals in spite of its small numbers.
As a community builder, you too want to optimize for depth rather than breadth.
You want as many members of your community to fit into your template of your ideal customer/community member profile.
The further you steer away from this ICP, the less likely you're to benefit from their presence. Instead it's more likely to hurt your community building efforts because your active members are going to feel put off by this lack of quality.
Scaling up right is essential. If you’re not sure about whether it’s time to scale your community, then why not get help from community experts who’ve been in the biz? Let’s help you out.