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10 Signs It’s Time to Move Your Community or Courses
These early warning signs can tell you when it’s time to make a move.
Most community or course builders wait too long to move. Here’s how to avoid that mistake.
There’s a lot of fear around moving a community or courses. The old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” exists for a reason! But it can be hard to know exactly when to consider a move, especially since not all community analytics are created equal.
Based on data from thousands of Mighty Networks Hosts and our own community building experience, here are ten signals to watch for. If some or all of them are present in your community, it’s time to start looking for a new home.
1. New members don’t know how to contribute.
Pick a handful of your newest members, and take a look at their activity. Are they introducing themselves? Do they show up at events or comment on posts? If they’re doing more lurking than contributing, this may be a sign that your community has become too chaotic or there isn’t enough structure to help people find their way.
If you’re able to look at member cohorts in your analytics, you’ll have an even stronger sense of how new member activity compares to your long-term members.
This issue is common in: Chat-based communities, like Discord or Slack, that have grown quickly.
2. Older members have stopped showing up.
This goes both ways! Check in with your older members. Are they less engaged? Are they no longer clear on who the community is for? Are they spending less time on the platform you originally chose?
They may be looking for a community with different features they’ve come to love elsewhere, or interested in spending less time on certain corners of the internet.
This issue is common in: Communities on platforms where people may be spending less time than they used to, like Facebook or Slack.
3. The platform changed the rules on you.
Did you wake up one day and see a huge drop in views or comments? Was your moderator banned unexpectedly? Are your members complaining that they don’t see your posts as frequently as they used to? Or maybe your favorite features just...went away. Changes big and small, public and secret—they can all impact the health of your community. If you keep wondering when the rug is going to be pulled out from under you, it’s time to consider a move to a platform where you’re more in control.
This issue is common in: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or other social media communities.
4. You want to do something your current platform can’t.
This seems obvious, but we’ve been surprised at how many creators try and force something on a new platform because they feel stuck and scared to move. That can mean trying to build a custom add-on, or stitching together multiple platforms into a frustratingly complex experience.
This issue is common in: Course-only platforms, when you want to add a community. Or community platforms—when you want to add a course!
5. Members are getting lost between different platforms.
Maybe you already went down that road and bolted on a few different things to create a course and community platform. Or added a payments gateway to a custom member-section of your website. But then you wanted chat, so you set up a Discord server...and when it’s time to do an event, people have to head to another platform! Between multiple log-ins and lost invitations, it can be impossible for even your most dedicated members to follow you around and stay engaged. It’s time to think about a more streamlined experience.
This issue is common in: custom-build websites using multiple plug-ins, or communities that combine a Facebook Group with course platforms like Kajabi, Teachable, or Thinkific.
6. You’re growing—but not getting paid.
Great news: your community is highly engaged. Members can’t get enough of the content and discussion and more are joining every day. You spend hours moderating, answering member questions, and doing other administrative work. The problem? You’re doing it all for free. And there’s no easy way to throw up a membership payment at the door.
This is the perfect time to think about what you could do if just a fraction of the free community members were willing to pay a fee for a more premium experience, on a new platform with new capabilities.
This issue is common in: Facebook Groups and free Discord servers.
7. The platform you’re on is desktop-only.
Over the past few years, many of us were waiting at home, eager to engage with the world through our laptops at our desks. We all got a little too comfortable on Zoom!
But now, is your community ready to enter the real world? Mobile apps are essential, so that members can check in as they’re on the go. People will be traveling and commuting again. You’ll want to meet them where they are—on their phones.
This issue is common in: newer community platforms who haven’t yet developed full-featured iOS or Android apps.
8. You don’t have access to any member data or emails.
Your community is alive and growing. But then one day, you want to host an event in a different place. Or the platform goes down, but you need to make a big announcement. You go to email all your members and—you can’t.
It’s strange to realize but if you’re running a server or a social media group, you don’t actually own any of your member data. You’re just renting it. If the platform shuts you down, goes offline, or you just need to get in touch in a different way...you don’t have many options. If you’re building a business based on the community you’re investing in, you’ll want to get ahead of this moment and look at other options.
This issue is common in: Facebook Groups and Discord servers.
9. Your members don’t like coming to your current platform.
When a platform does tons of other things, it can be great for discovery. But it can be disastrous for long-term engagement, because the popularity and stickiness of your community may not be up to you.
Once members turn on the platform, they may lose the motivation to show up for you. This is why it’s also critical to ask for feedback: take the pulse of your members to understand if they’re happy with your community’s home. They may be even more ready for a change than you are!
This issue is common in: Facebook Groups, Twitter communities, Discord and Slack chats.
10. You don’t have any data.
Sometimes no signal at all is a pretty big signal! Without strong analytics to tell you what’s working and what’s not, it can be hard to grow a community. Especially if some of the activity is happening “under the surface” in chats and private messages.
If you’re not able to see any analytics, or the analytics you have are too difficult to understand, it may be time to invest in a new platform that helps you keep your finger on the pulse.
This issue is common in: Discord servers, new community platforms, Facebook Groups.