Picking the best community platform for your community is a paralyzing thought because there are so many available in the market. Moving your audience to another platform can be even harder. Should you invest in a custom solution or choose an out-of-the-box solution to start with? How should you shift all the social capital from one platform to another as you scale?
Let's be honest: Even though we’d like to move away from social media platforms, they are so ingrained in our habits. Ingrained to the effect that it has become ritualistic to use them.
But, it’s not impossible to migrate them; all you need is a proper plan.
How to migrate to a new community platform?
As long as you don’t compromise on the value proposition, the friction of shifting to a new home will be embraced by the members.
But if you don't have the budget or immediate need for a standalone app, we have a wide variety of community platforms out there, some of which provide custom domains and a white-labeled solution. On Scenes, we make the migration seamless as you scale from a white-labeled solution to a standalone app.
1) Travel Checklist
- Prepare a list of all the things you use frequently
- Identify the most common problems you face
- Break down the processes that are super manual or have been hacked together
- Figure out where your community spends most of the time
- Prioritize your community programs
- Decide if you need extensive moderation tools or not
- Ascertain the importance of branding in your community. Also decide if you require a fully customizable platform.
2) Involve your community in the migration process
Changing platforms should not be an instantaneous decision. Migrating is something that should not be kept private.
Having an awesome new platform won’t help if your audience is not ready to shift. Remember, the community is made from its members. Thus, you should not just jump on them with a final decision.
You should involve them in everything you think and do. From the first day onwards, share the reason behind your shift, and seek out their opinions. A survey might help you find out the features, tools, and content your audience would like to change. Similarly, you should also know what they love about the current platform.
I highly recommend you reach out to your superusers and get their buy-in early on. Involve your loyal members in the entire process. These are the people who would support your decision and convince other members to move. You can share mocks and beta versions with them. These folks would ensure that everyone is excited about the new platform.
3) Keep it familiar and fresh in the new community
Comfort is the key and you need to keep some things familiar so that your members still feel like home. Even after moving to a new platform, you should make them feel comfortable.
You can make the new space feel like the old space by continuing standard community norms, migrating some of the popular content, and maintaining the same branding.
There might be specific features or discussions that your members love to use. You need to highlight these features and inform your audience about similar tools on the new platform.
But while doing this, don’t forget to make them feel the newness; also focus on the obvious improvements over the old space.
4) Saying Goodbye
It is a wise decision to make an official announcement in your community before, during, and after the switch.
Make a plan to close your new community space around 2-3 weeks after launch and make sure your members know about it. This will motivate them to save anything they want to keep from the old space as well as migrate to the newer one.
You can also consider changing the settings to let only admins post.
Before closing up, you can host a virtual farewell party, reflecting over all the beautiful moments you and your community have shared.
Moreover, you should make sure that links to your new space are present in the closed space. This will guide anyone who stumbles upon your old space.
5) Be aware of nay-sayers and set realistic expectations
Switching your community platform is not an everyday thing to do. There will be a few nay-sayers. Despite your best efforts, some members would be reluctant to move. Some might even hate the new platform. So, you need to keep this in mind and set only realistic expectations.
Manage expectations and help the stakeholders understand any potential roadblocks.
Let all interested people know that a dip in the number of registered members is expected. Moreover, migration would automatically weed out users who signed up but never checked back in.
Your team should be prepared to face a backlash because people will complain. Most of them would accept the new things, but some would still find small things to nitpick. But, it’s okay!
6) Dealing with Stragglers
All communication channels should be kept open during the migration. And once the majority of the community has migrated, leave a pinned message that is easily seen to ensure that stragglers know where to go if they missed the boat.
Keep a regular check on your old space for anyone who might’ve checked out the wrong place. These could be newcomers or users who were radio-silent for some time.
Direct everyone to the new space you’ve created.
7) Promote the new community space
Highlight the value of the new space.
Everyone should know where to find you and what to do to become a part of your community. Market your new space just like you market your products or services. Communicate this via a Tweet, email, or note with pigeon. Do whatever you have to, but inform everyone!
Don’t hold back on growing your audience. Continue whatever you did for the old platform. It's possible you may have lost some devoted old members. But don’t worry, you can try to replace the members who didn’t support your decision.
Keep these tips in mind to ensure that your community stays alive. The member loyalty should not be based on which platform you’re using! After all, your community should be more than people gathered in a digital space. It should be more about the connections and less about the platform.
What should you look for in an ideal community software before migration?
We have curated a detailed checklist you can use to choose the best platform. Keep in mind that your business goals come first and then the features in the platform.
If you want to read in detail about this checklist, we have a whole blog on this. You can read the blog here.
In my experience, if the connections formed within your community are strong enough, those will translate no matter what the platform. In fact, it's a great test to gauge how sticky your community truly is. If you’re planning to switch your community platform, then you’ll probably need some help along the way, so shoot us a message.