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What is Community Design™?
Community Design™ is the practice of intentionally structuring how community members come together in order to meet a defined goal. For online communities, this means tailoring every element of your online community platform to help members and hosts meet shared objectives. You then execute your Community Design™ plan using great cultural software to bring it to life.
So, when we talk about online Community Design™, we're really talking about intentionally and carefully crafting your community so that it has the greatest chance of helping its members master something interesting together. The spaces where people meet work better when they're designed well. This is true in the offline world, and it's true in online communities.
Why Community Design™?
In your community, it’s impossible to do everything. Too many people feel like they need to get on a treadmill of producing content, videos, webinars, etc., and they burn out. And, all that work doesn’t actually help their members achieve what they wanted to achieve when they joined the community.
The answer is to get clear about what to focus on. And that’s where Community Design™ comes in.
As Doug Neill, Mighty Host of Verbal to Visual, says of sustainable Community Design™: "It's not about doing more work, it's about identifying the deep roots of a common "why" and a light structure of community activities that will accelerate your community in whatever direction you point."
The 5 essentials of Community Design™
1. Your Big Purpose, your story, and your ideal member
Your community is going to form so that you can master something interesting together. So, before they do, you should start with some basic questions: 1. Who is your ideal member? 2. What will you master together? 3. What are the tangible results your members can achieve by being part of the community?
We love to turn this into a Big Purpose statement:
2. Year in the life
If people choose to come along on a community journey with you, where will they be one year from now? Great design means being clear on the journey your members will go on and how belonging to your community will help them get there.
3. Community Design™ plan
Once you've figured out where you want your members to be in a year, break this journey down into months and weeks.
- First of all, what are the monthly themes you can set that will benefit your members’ journey and focus your efforts?
- Secondly, what activities can you do week by week to move members towards their goals? (i.e. you might choose 2-3 things a week to start that help members connect and learn from one another. ie. live sessions, conversations, featured member days, or polls).
4. Structure and pricing
Would you believe that great Community Design™ usually involves charging members? Contrary to the common advice that you need to build a huge social media following, get people into a free community, then slowly charge something that costs the same as a cup of coffee, our research into REAL Mighty Networks shows this is WRONG.
People pay attention to what they pay for. Put differently, if your members pay nothing, or next to nothing, for your community, guess how much they'll value it?
Our data from 11,000 communities shows that 77% of Mighty Networks that charge for subscriptions, sell subscriptions. 70% of Mighty Networks that are successfully selling subscriptions are doing so with 25 members paying an average of $39.55 (that's $1,000/month!).
There are different ways to charge but do consider charging something.
5. Launching and Growing!
Don't wait until you've got it all figured out or have 100 members lined up! The most important and final step to great is to get started! But, once you've started, don't forget to tweak and learn as you grow--becoming the best Mighty Host that you can be!
And focus on what works, not on trying to create EVERYTHING you can imagine for your community. Unlike other social media platforms, you're not going to get stuck on a content treadmill where it feels like YOU CAN NEVER STOP POSTING. Our most successful paid Mighty Networks post only 2-3 times a week
If you need a deep dive on all of these, we run a Community Design™ Accelerator that will give you the foundations!
Now Read: How to Start a Community From Scratch