Common Community Building Mistakes to Avoid

We’re all human and can make mistakes. The beauty of committing mistakes is that we can really learn from them and improve our community management careers each time.

Our advice is simple, avoid these 7 deadly sins while building community and you will be fine :


#1 :- Having a ‘big bang’ launch

One of the biggest mistakes brands make when it comes to launching their new community is taking the “big launch” approach (stealth mode). Community managers often mistakenly believe that an effective community is launched with a big bang—from our community building experiences, this is just not the case. A community should grow organically, so it doesn’t become self-cannibalizing. The way to enable this is by taking a staggered launch approach using the following steps: 

Treat your members (especially that initial, founding group) as the precious brand ambassadors they are!

Don’t invest budget or resources into a ‘big bang’ style launch – you may see a larger number of initial members, but you’ll struggle to maintain engagement in the long-term and your community may die a disappointing death


There Are No Facts Inside Your Building, So Get Outside

Ultimately—maintain realistic expectations when it comes to the speed at which your new community grows.( If you’ve ever been part of a Slack channel /Discord server / Facebook groups with 20,000 + members, you’ll realize how little member count has to do with a feeling of community.) At the end of the day, you want to run a community that’s strong and successful in the long-term rather than a flash-in-the-pan site that disappears as quickly as it launched. There is no such thing as overnight success when it comes to community management.  

 Start small. Choose no more than 3-6 content categories to begin with. 

Avoid content categories that could be defined differently by different people - keep it simple and clear. In time, more content categories can be added, and your existing categories can be refined and extended accordingly (for example, an initial category on ‘product information’ can later be broken down into specific product categories)


Starting small, and celebrating the small victories will lead you to the big ones. 


#2 Building a community on someone else’s network 

For today’s entrepreneurs, marketers,&  community managers, the platforms that you once loved, no longer love you back.

The well-known social networks often change their algorithms to suit their own purposes, not yours or that for your community. On the flipside when you connect your users in new and more valuable ways that benefit them more outside the noise and clutter of the Facebook, Discord etc. than within it, your fans and followers will try it and thrive. To be sure, it won’t be everyone, but off these media platforms, you have new opportunities to create true fans.  

 Use technology (Community Platforms) to speed up your community development & focus on what matters more!

Unlike Social media platforms, modern community-building software like Pensil and others takes on the mechanics of your audience engaging with each other, allowing your social team to get out of the way and spend your time dreaming up new and awesome things to do that build your brand.


Start A Branded Community (Not Just Another Social Network)
The savviest among us today understand Facebook, Discord, etc.. is great for continued acquisition, but the faster you can funnel your engagement work off these, the better.

#3 Hoping your community will replace your marketing campaigns 

 Yes, communities executed well drive phenomenal SEO results. Yes, you get to communicate with your customer base across a multitude of digital channels, wherever they are. But whilst an online community is a highly effective tool in your digital marketing toolbox, it doesn’t constitute the entire toolbox.

Social media platforms V/S Community platforms

Marketing has certainly gotten a lot more complicated in the last few years. So many platforms, so many ways to connect and communicate. At the crux of it all though, is the need to build a community and this community needs to consist of our biggest fans. This doesn't matter whether you are a large global corporation or a micro business running from a garage. How do you reach out to people? In other words, how do you make people aware of your community and—most importantly—aware of what they can gain from visiting and becoming a member? 


This first step entails getting the word out about your community and creating awareness. Creating awareness involves using different communication channels and different messages.

Why different channels? Because not every potential member is active on the same channels. People tend to have a preference. Some people are more active on Facebook and follow your company’s Facebook page, whilst some spend their free time scrolling through Instagram. Others are more likely to visit your company’s support page instead—especially those who face technical issues. 

 And let’s not forget the potential members who will actually become aware of your community through their Google searches—which is why having content that search engines love is also a fundamental aspect of your long term acquisition strategy. Why different messages? One thing to realize about community traffic is that the source of the traffic matters. 


What this image tells us is that there is a correlation between channel usage and member motivation. People who are fans of your Facebook page are likely to be motivated in a different way from the people who receive your email newsletter, or from those who find your community through your website’s support page. 



#4 Leaving your community to ‘self-regulate’ entirely


A community is a project and is not our friend group in WhatsApp where we can send a fun meme and mute it for 8 hours. As a community manager / Lead we have to be consistent in our participation, not only related to the new content creation, but also in how we dealt with situations. More than being consistent with a set of guidelines our communities might have, we should make sure we respect a certain Community Management routine. I’m not saying we should have an unbreakable hourly schedule, but find a way to make sure that all tasks are covered and no expectation is left behind.


We recommend allowing early members to shape the concept and guidelines of your community, but as engagement and interactions increase, you can’t expect your brand ambassadors to do all your community management for you, like a group of vigilantes! 

You will need a community management team in order to keep the community alive. 

#5 Misunderstanding true motivations of your community 


As we already know, most users join initially with a need for themselves, not out of a desire to contribute to a community. As a community manager, your challenge is to turn this initial self-serving motivation into a group-serving mentality, using activation and engagement techniques.

I read a post recently that strongly influenced my views on communities called “1000 True Fans”. The author made the case that an artist can be a success even without fame and millions of fans. All an artist needs is 1000 diehard fans. They are the ones that keep the artist afloat in the long run

The Internet also works along the same lines. A site does not need billions or even millions to thrive. A site just needs to have a large enough “fan base” to sustain itself. For example, Stack Overflow’s community is developers whereas Dribble focuses on designers, both of which are large enough groups.

CAN YOU INTRINSICALLY MOTIVATE users to participate in the community.?? The answer is no because intrinsic motivation is something internal to each person. What you can do however is provide an environment that makes it natural and easy for those with the motivation to want to participate in the community.

 This gets back to true fans.

 There are individuals that are already avid fans of communities, think of the developers that participate in hackathons, attend conferences, and organize events. They understand the power of people coming together to share knowledge, to help each other, and to learn new ideas that spur on even better ideas. They value human based knowledge and the value they have received from participating in communities. They understand the WIIFM (known as “What’s In It For Me”)

#6 Choosing The Wrong Platform

Digital organizing is becoming key to community building and organizing. But are all digital community platforms equal? No they are not !

Choosing an online community platform is one of the biggest challenges for a community builder. While an online platform does not equate to a community, when done well, online community platforms are incredibly effective at organizing, amplifying, guiding, and scaling a community strategy.


Challenges you will experience when selecting your community platform 

  1. Platforms feeling massive, clunky, & lacking flexibility
  2. Not integrating well with other popular tools
  3. Not optimized for mobile use
  4. Having poor design & user interface
  5. Being limited in functionality & features

With all that you have invested in your community, your team should have a quality platform that can grow as your community grows & we at Pensil are solving all these problems. 

Ultimately, choosing a community platform is a process that we always recommend CMs weave through their entire strategy process — your choices will get better the more you consider them dynamically with content, audience, and long-term vision. Keep an open mind, and have fun!

#7 You start over communicating with your community 

This is a sure fire way to lose your community - start bombarding them with way too much communication. We all know what it's like when we sign up for something and next thing we are getting a hundred emails a day from someone trying to sell us something. We don't like it. So please avoid spamming community members.

Build Authentic communities that build authentic relationships within your community.

 If you build it (right), users will come.

See how Pensil can help your members be more engaged and enthusiastic about your brand — sign up for a free community trial now.

Give your community a chance from the start! Don’t be part of the #EpicFail club!

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