Community growth people understand the mission. They have their minds set on big dreams. They want to help change the lives of the people in their community. They have their feet grounded in reality, yet are focused on where the community needs to go to succeed.
They also understand the boundaries, such as:
- community is not marketing
- community growth comes from a strong foundation
- relationships are key
- things like ads will likely not work
- community grows at the speed of trust
- listening and researching (aka Community Discovery) is crucial to understanding how to grow
- instead of growth hacks, they seek opportunities
A community growth role is more about having the ability to understand the community strategy as a whole and identify ways to grow a community. Part of it can be improving conversion rates. Or ensure community processes are tight-knit and growth-oriented. It could also be about addressing the content and the culture of the community.
However, more meaningful parts could be using community research to learn to deliver extra value. With great research come great opportunities. Community growth people learn to spot gaps to fill. They understand the industry inside out. They know what people need. And they jump on opportunities that help members or the community grow.
Community growth builders know that growth in numbers is not all that matters. They know that context matters and vanity metrics can equally harm a community. As much as they might look for opportunities to grow, they may also look for ways to cut back on community debt, or the overwhelm of noise. Just like in the SEO world it is recommended to remove unnecessary pages to help websites gain traffic, the same principle can apply to community — less is often more.
Community growth is not about more. It’s about doing better and creating value. It’s about retaining over churn. About understanding where people are at in their community journey and (co)creating something to help pull people in and bring them together.
Community growth specialists get good at creating community journeys that work. They understand growth tends to come slowly. They understand the pieces that work within a community flywheel. They know that if one piece of community flywheels are removed then it could all come tumbling down.
Importantly, they know when is the right time to act.
Good growth people:
- know when a good idea from a member is worth backing
- are strategic rather than in the day to day trenches of the community
- know what makes the community tick
- create a bridge between stakeholders and the members
- experiment with ideas and conversations
- know that they need to invest in their members
- capture feedback and progress to show what is working
- love creating and improving upon community flywheels
- understand that many communities are distributed in their nature and develop strategies to pull them in
- can report on quantitative and qualitative community data
- invest in community opportunities
- optimise for many parts of the community journey
- support reducing community debt
Ultimately, community growth specialists understand what makes communities tick and have a strategic view of the future of community. The moment we stop focusing on growth is perhaps the moment our communities start to become irrelevant.
What do you think? Listen to Erin
and I try to think this through a bit.