Building a community-led growth strategy
Most people think community-led growth is starting an online community. But, it's more nuanced than that.
Community-led growth = bringing the people you serve together around a shared purpose to drive human connection, common learning, and advocacy.
And that doesn't necessarily mean you need to jump right into starting a Facebook group, a Mighty Networks space or a StoryPrompt community.
Community isn't a tool. It's a movement.
And usually all it requires is bringing people together and engaging them in an authentically human way.
When I created the Sendible community, I invested in brand messaging first in order to attract an audience that felt strongly about the problem we were solving.
The idea was not to talk about our product, but rather focus on the challenges we saw social media professionals facing. Our belief was that for our customers to be successful, they needed to become better storytellers.
So, our brand essence became “Every brand has a story, be its voice”. And all our content was focused on helping social media marketers become better storytellers.
Once we had the audience who were tuning in to the podcast, attending mixers, joining educational webinars etc, our community came together organically because they aligned with Sendible’s vision and wanted to learn about storytelling.
If you want to get started with community-led growth, don’t worry about building an online community. It will happen organically when you follow these 3 steps:
Write your brand canvas and find your brand essence
I recommend reading the book StoryBrand, or downloading a brand canvas. If you’d like a copy of the template I use personally, reply to this email.
Identify the problem your product or service solves
Your customers come to you to take away their pain. To build a community, you need to talk about that discomfort so that it attracts other people who are suffering too.
Have a strong opinion and pick an enemy
Now that you’ve outlined the problem, you need to take a stance. Where do you see the world going? Have an opinion that aligns with your values and that will attract like-minded individuals. Then, build that into your messaging.
Create content that talks about the problem
It’s natural to want to share content about your amazing business and the services you offer. Don’t. Instead, talk about the problems your customers face. Then, watch as you draw people in.
Let me show you how this works…
At StoryPrompt, we have 6 content pillars that we cycle through whenever we produce content. We have enemy-focused content pillars (the status quo) and pillars about the hero (the shift we want to see in the world):
You can see how we’ve used this approach on our website in the screenshot below. Inefficient meetings are the enemy. Asynchronous video is the solution.
Once you have your content pillars ready to go, it’s time to kickstart your community-led growth engine.
Here are 6 ideas to get you started:
Launch a podcast series and interview customers
Provide ungated content and encourage comments
Host regular educational live streams with influencers
Prompt customers for UGC and share on social
Use video instead of text and give your brand a face
Publish a Substack newsletter (like this)
Oh, and speaking of Substack, if you know of anyone who could benefit from my newsletter or podcast, feel free to forward this on. 🙏
After a few months of producing content like this, you’ll have an audience that trusts you. And that’s when it’s time to think about investing in a community platform.
Here are the 15 best online community platforms for 2023 (for when you’re ready).
Until next time,
P.S. I've started accepting applications for my new mastermind group launching later this quarter that also includes 1:1 coaching with me. It will be online and asynchronous – no Zoom meetings. Read more and grab a spot.
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