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Community! Community! Community!

Hello!

My name is Max and I'm a community manager for Phlywheel.

Phlywheel has a few different arms, but we are majorly a membership site for marketing professionals, business owners, entrepreneurs, and anyone looking to learn more about marketing-related topics. We are currently in our beta, but we're officially launching in July!

You can check it out here: https://www.phlywheel.com/

Although it hasn't been very long, I've learned how important cultivating and managing a community is for membership sites. We're lucky to have been able to leverage a lot of pre-existing relationships to fill up the community during our first couple weeks, but it's already becoming apparent how much management is needed – you don't want your initial excitement to wear off!

So how do you accomplish this?

There are simple answers: post frequently and engage people in conversation!

And there are more complicated answers: create some sort of program to reward members for loyalty/prolonged use (and maybe turn them into moderators).

Either way, you need to be engaging with your community and showing them value as much as you can.

When you were a kid, did you ever put cornstarch and water together to make a 'putty' like substance? (If not, I'm sorry you missed out. You can catch up on your childhood here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbWBkwM1WAI)

Like that cornstarch putty you made, your community will become stagnant and shapeless if you do not interact with it, but if you do interact with it, it takes shape and becomes a fun thing to play with!

I hope this helps and I invite you all to check out Phlywheel, we have tons of resources available for building membership sites and all things marketing!

(https://www.phlywheel.com/)

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    I definitely agree that community building is often a great way to improve retention for many membership sites. They often get started purely around access to content and then later build forums or other community related features.

    Some outliers like Netflix or Mixergy pretty much just keep doubling and tripling down on content, though!

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      Should you start with content first, then move toward a community? What kind of content? Blog, podcast, course? Does it matter?

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        This is actually what Indie Hackers did, first the interviews then the community came after.

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          Wow that's really to know. Best to use a proven method ;)

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        I started with a podcast first and have recently launched a community inviting guests from the show into a private community which I'll eventually open up to more people.

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      Great point!

      If you're a membership site like Netflix, which doesn't naturally involve any sort of conversational arm (like a forum), there is a lot more emphasis on just generating new content for your audience to consume.

      A membership site like Phlywheel, however, is heavily reliant on creating new talking points (ex. articles/blogs, events, polls, planning jams, etc.). It's easy to make a quick "Introduce Yourself" post to create a bit of chatter right after you launch, but you definitely need refresh conversation with new shiny toys (i.e. great content pieces)!

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        I could definitely see your users "come for the guides, stay for the forum & community". It will be interesting to see how you balance work on the two and what works!

        For me, 99% of my users are just watching and reading tutorials on my site, but added a section for voting and commenting on new tutorial requests and comments on all tutorials. Eventually, I'll probably add a forum but I still need to focus on making the tutorials people have asked for in the short to mid-term.

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          Interesting...I could see some sort of gamification working with your platform. Maybe rewarding people for watching X amount of tutorials (or something of like that)? It could help with converting some free users to paid.

          We're trying to incorporate a rewards system on our end as well...easier said than done!

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    How often should i be engaging with the community? Every day?

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      At https://indiestack.org/ which is the community I manage, I'm on there all day every day. Always engaging. It needs to be that way at the beginning.

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      In general, interacting with your members daily is a good rule to follow.

      That being said, it can change depending on the community – you don't want to engage too much and be annoying (nobody likes their inbox being flooded with emails or notifications), but you also don't want the community to become stagnant (by not engaging enough). The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle of those two sides, but in terms of frequency, it'll will be different for each membership group.

      I'd say rely on this as a general guiding principle, but gauge your specific audience. You can also find that sweet spot by just asking them! Feedback forms and surveys are a great way to figure this out.

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