The answer is probably “you can’t”, but…
We’re in the middle of community discovery. We’ve had some good conversations with our target audience and started running some event tests, but we haven’t yet hit on a format or niche that makes people really excited. Obviously failure and iteration are part of the process, but they’re the worst part.
We’re trying to figure out how we can move a little faster. One approach we’ll likely take is ads targeted at our audience promoting different event formats and niches, to see which get the most clicks and help us narrow things down.
Anyone have any other tips on moving faster? Once we have fit I’m not concerned about the time investment it takes to build connection and engagement, but the discovery part is killing me a little bit.
For community discovery, is it about having enough discussions to develop personas? It almost sounds like by discovery, you’re really describing experimentation. And when these experiments (ie events) have low turnout, you are discovering what is working/what isn’t. Is that accurate?
Yes, I think that’s accurate!
We’re a much smaller community, and I kind of feel like we’re always doing some form of discovery. I personally treat the digital questions and conversations as an opportunity to learn more about what’s behind the question/share.
Recently, I took a question from a member about what others are doing with champion programs, and ended up bringing more folks into the thread from both within the community and those that hadn’t yet joined. Then we turned it into a live discussion and shared the notes out. It was one of the more “successful” things we’ve done in the value it provided, the buzz for others to see, and the ability to produce lasting content.
I feel like for us, experiments occur when there is some build up / pattern emerging, and you capture it and turn it into something. For us, it’s about making the “experiments” small enough to where you don’t feel like it’s a huge undertaking. Then measuring somewhat objectively to determine if it can become a “program”
Is the bullseye framework on your radar? It’s from the book Traction. While targeted at Startups I imagine the framework would be useful for community discovery.
I’ve only ever used it in a startup context and not in my community context — I happen to advocate for a very well established community. Yet the principle of “pick three approaches and run with them all in to experiment and learn” could be useful.
I’d look to see what you have access to as a competitive advantage.
Your company is big and likely has many resources to tap into. People that can do favours, that have insights, that would want to be associated with your brand.
I often think about how community discovery is about identifying gaps that exist for your niche too. What isn’t being served well?
Also, it’s totally valid to do discovery by observing what people are doing now in the open, what is being written about, what kind of topics gain interest, what approaches other niches are taking that you can be inspired by.
Exactly what I don’t think we’ve landed quite yet. We have plenty of access to folks, but we haven’t made the thing that gets their attention.
Community discovery at this scale is often harder than when you have fewer resources and less brand recognition.
I have no insight to help, but I am enjoying this conversation.
I’m feeling the same. I’ve been trying to find good words for it and keep having response drafts left open as I get stuck (and distracted).
It’s hard - if it (community and any kind of business) were easy, then we’d all be succeeding. And yes, I can imagine the pressure of the business reputation making it even harder.
Also you might find lightning in a bottle by accident and think you’ve cracked it, only to discover you can’t repeat it.
It is hard. Community building is hard.
Following this. I’m in a similar place. I feel I have the persona reaaaasonably nailed, some validation, but finding more of these people is challenging.
I read an interesting post recently on knowing when to quit and knowing when to grit. I.e. just because your audience doesn’t immediately jump all over it doesn’t mean it’s not valuable to them - it’s just genuinely hard conveying something effectively and building trust that they want to join it, even if it’s offering the right value to them.
For me personally, I’m considering more direct approaches like you’ve mentioned - actual ads, very specific partnerships with publications that align with the persona well, and even direct messaging on occasion.
Not sure if you’re in a similar boat or not - but broadly I’d say your approach is well worth trying, and I’d be keen to know any other routes you try!
Community discovery is like any other type of discovery - you’re trying to build the A in AIDA (Awareness or Attention - the other steps being Interest, Desire and Action) which is a sales / marketing principle and it applies to campaigns of any size IMO.
So to get the awareness or attention you really need to know your target audience. If you are finding it challenging to know how to reach them, maybe go back a few steps and think about how you identified them in the first place, which might throw up a few answers.
Love “when to quit vs when to grit”. Gotta keep truckin’! Thanks for sharing!
I think we may actually be in I. We have a lot of access to these folks - we’re just trying to get their attention better than standard marketing, and we haven’t yet landed on something that interests them enough. Helpful framework to consider though!
They might be aware of you[r company], but are they aware of what you’re trying to offer via membership of your community?
If so, then yes, you need to ask yourself why they’re not interested and address that