When it comes to membership sites, you’ll often find that people will come for the content, but they’ll stay for the community.
An active community is the glue which holds a successful membership together.
It’s where your members will form relationships, where they’ll receive and give support, where they’ll build connections and even make friends.
It’s things like that which will keep people subscribed to your membership for months and years to come.
Use an on-site forum platform
When it comes to the community side of membership sites, the biggest question we get is about which platform to use.
More specifically — should I use a Facebook group, or an online forum?
While a Facebook group may be the easiest and more attractive option there are several reasons why having an online forum is preferable.
Members having immediate access to the community, as well as the ability to more closely integrate forum solutions such as bbPress or IPBoard into the member experience are key to actually getting your members taking part.
Use a “Seed group”
When creating your membership site, you’ll reach a point shortly before launching where you should be running a “beta test”, enrolling a small group of members at either a reduced rate or for free, with the purpose of having them extensively test everything on your site.
These testers could essentially become a “seed group” for your community too — tasked with starting and participating in discussions, so that when the doors to your site open there’s already momentum within the community.
Even if you’re not running a beta test you could recruit a seed group from your network, existing clients or people on your waitlist.
Start small in terms of forum sections
There’s a temptation when setting up your membership forum to go crazy with the number of forum sections you set up.
Our tip is to start small and scale up as needed — rather than creating a separate section for every conceivable topic your community may want to discuss.
And don’t be “all business” either — create a section for off-topic conversation too; as those more relaxed, casual conversations will often be an easier “in-road” for new members to jump into and start posting.
In terms of quantity, you should be going for no more than 6–8 sections to begin with (unless you’re putting all of your membership content, courses and so on inside your community — which is a different topic entirely!)
Have realistic expectations
Success and failure are all relative.
Often people will view their efforts as being unsuccessful based on unrealistic expectations, and the same goes for building your membership community.
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