10 Steps to Launch a Successful Community

Your budget has been approved. You’ve spent endless hours exploring platforms, meeting vendors and watching demos. You’re ready to sign that contract and finally launch your new online community. But are you really ready to press the button? Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you have these 10 steps in place.

The check list:

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Define the community purpose

Before you begin, you need to start with a purpose, and the purpose needs to begin with the type of community you wish to build. Whether it is around passionate brand followers, peer-to-peer support, enthusiasts, B2B-led or a hybrid of these, start with your community purpose and define this in relation to the followers you would like to attract. Your users and their needs will then play an integral role in your decision-making for your community (see #3). What is the benefit you can deliver to your customers, peers, clients or fellow-enthusiasts? How can you help them engage together? Whatever the community you wish to build, its purpose needs to be crystal clear both within the organisation and to the members themselves.

Members must have clarity of its mission and principles, and know what behaviour is expected from them. The mantra to strive for is Openness, Transparency and Honesty.

 
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Goals and KPIs are set and agreed

Decide on your key goals and objectives early. As per best practice, make your objectives SMART. These could be to increase sales, reduce the cost of customer service, increase brand awareness or maybe improve your NPS. You need to know precisely what technology, processes and resources you need to achieve your goals and measure progress.

 
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You know your audience

It is essential to know your audience inside out. Go deep with the details on who they are, and what they need, want, and are inspired by. Understand when and where they hang out, how they speak and interact, and why. Behaviours are your guiding light for creating meaningful connections with your community. If you have a varied audience, you need to establish a plan to ensure you balance your content, voice and interactions to cater for all segments.

 
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There is a strategy

Craft a 6-12 month plan that ties in with your objectives and within your agreed budget. Have a clear plan on detailing what content and events you’ll be producing and when, how you’ll drive growth, retention and engagement, and how you’ll foster your advocates and ambassadors. You should also set review points to analyse progress and effectiveness. The initial period of growth can be a key test and learn period, so ensure you have some flexibility to optimise performance.

 
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Policies and processes are in place

Preparation is key. Establishing guidelines, processes, and policies to make sure you are legally compliant, and to ensure the smooth running of the community is essential. Check that you have all your paperwork ready; security, safety, guidelines, privacy policies, moderation, and escalation need to all be checked off and agreed by internal stakeholders. Ensure it is all in line with your brand/organisation and your overall mission.

 
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You have support from your stakeholders

Where you are in a position where you have multiple stakeholders, it is critical that the community is a business or organisation-wide commitment, not just a side initiative. Define roles and responsibilities and ensure that all departments involved are aware and actively participating, and that the buy-in is universal.

 
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The technology is tested and signed off

The platform needs to be stable, any integrations with other applications should work. Then test everything meticulously and sign it off. Ensure that once in operation, you have plans in place to adapt and make agile improvements to your community based on data insights and user testing.

 
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You know what and how to measure

You should have a clear understanding of what metrics you need to track – community, web and business-wise – and what reporting is important to you. Tracking should extend beyond the behaviours inside the community and should consider acquisition and retention metrics. If there is a key conversion metric (i.e. a purchase or referral), ensure you have the appropriate tracking in place to continually assess your conversion funnel.

 
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The team knows what they need to do - and how to do it

Have somebody responsible for the implementation of your strategic plan and the day-to-day running of the community and its moderation. They will need to be skilled in the art of community management, very familiar with your brand, and have solid knowledge of moderation best practices. To ensure they are performing at their best you should provide them with access to training and ongoing development.

 
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There is a plan for scaling

Additional funds to increase bandwidth and support a rapidly growing userbase may be accessible if your community’s success exceeds expectations. If not, you’ll need to devise a plan to slow down growth to always ensure a positive user experience.

Are all boxes ticked? It’s time to go live!

The results are in: Nike is crowned the most admired brand for students

Today’s students represent the next consumer powerhouse. Currently aged between 16 - 22 -years old, Generation Z are expected to make up 40% of consumers in the US, Europe and BRIC countries by 2020. With a consumer’s spending peaking in their 30s, companies need to attract a following now in order to create a loyal, meaningful relationship for years to come.

This is exactly why we’ve recently conducted research amongst 2,225 British university students via the UK’s largest social network for students, Campus Society, to find out which brands they most admire and why.

 The findings were fascinating, and somewhat surprising. Despite this generation commonly touted for its passion for social activism and working for their success, 87% of students say it’s the quality of a company’s product that makes them most admirable.  

Beyond this, students say they prefer brands who are innovative and invest in inspiring content. Just over a third (34%) of those questioned said they wanted a brand to have an innovative approach, while a third (33%) of students cited its inspiring content as a draw. This would explain why renowned innovators Nike, Apple and adidas came out as the top three most admired brands of all.

So, what can brands looking to grab a piece of this profitable pie learn from those successfully engaging this audience?

Well, aside from the top three all being renowned for the quality of their products, they also communicate this with compelling campaigns that resonate specifically with this audience. Nike chose Colin Kaepernick as its face in 2018, after he refused to stand for the US national anthem in protest against racism and police brutality. Meanwhile, Apple’s latest holiday advert encouraged people to share their own unique ‘gifts’ and talents, even if they’re scared of what people will think. Adidas announced its plans to produce 11 million pairs of shoes made from recycled plastic waste this year alone; they also produce football shirts made from recycled materials and have committed to stop using ‘virgin plastic’ by 2024.   

All these global issues have a strong connection to the student demographic, who are concerned by world events and looking to be affiliated with brands with a good environmental footprint (13%), who champion diversity and inclusion (17%), and have a positive impact on society (13%).

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But, of course, it’s not just about what you communicate, it’s how you communicate it that is important, particularly for a group with such a multi-faceted approach to social media. They use different platforms for different activities. On Instagram, they showcase their aspirational selves; on Snapchat, they share real-life moments; on Twitter, they get the news; and on Facebook, they glean information, according to a study recently conducted by Response Media.

The communication landscape is rapidly evolving, and the brands who get the frequency, relevance and mechanism of content delivery right will reap the benefits of better, more meaningful connections with their next key audiences. The large social media platforms are not as effective as they once were for content delivery or relationship-building, with a growing emergence of student desire for community-based platforms whose members, whether student or brand, are clearly talking about their shared interests.

Those brands who focus on producing high-quality goods, while having a positive impact on the wider world and communicating that in creative ways through the right mix of channels, will rise to the top. With that in mind, I can’t wait to see who’s topping these rankings in our next student brand survey.

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Connectt’s Campus Society Network goes global

Connectt’s Campus Society Network goes global

We’re excited to announce the Campus Society and ISIC partnership

Today is a big day for our Campus Society brand, announcing a new partnership with The ISIC Association, the organisation behind the International Student Identity Card (ISIC).

Campus Society is already the UK’s leading social network for university students, and with this partnership it will expand internationally to deliver students worldwide a host of benefits to enrich their university experience. Campus Society enables students to connect and share information with fellow students about life at university, find internships and jobs, read their text books online and, with the ISIC partnership, get exclusive access to deals and offers from leading brands.

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Under the partnership, Campus Society will be launching local versions of its student social network, integrating with ISIC’s international community of verified students and exclusive offers. This presents an exciting opportunity for brands affiliated with ISIC as they will be able to promote targeted offers to students via bespoke channels on the network, based on user location and preferences.

The ISIC is the only globally accepted proof of full-time student status and has been endorsed by UNESCO since 1968, supporting over 120 million students worldwide. In addition to providing proof of identity, the ISIC unlocks over 150,000 benefits, discounts and services, helping make student life more affordable and helping students maximise their experience.

Matt East, Chairman of The ISIC Association, explains how this partnership is going to drive the next evolution of student networking: “Every year, millions of students around the world use ISIC to prove their official student status and access thousands of student discounts, offers and services worldwide. We’re in the business of benefitting students, and the platform technology pioneered by Campus Society is the next step in our evolution. It enables us to deliver real value to students via a bespoke social network that is completely tailored to those within our verified, international population of students.”

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Needless to say, Campus Society will be celebrating tonight. From tomorrow, watch this space as the brand prepares for its first country launch and an exciting 2019 with more new ventures and growth to come.

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Find out more on Campussociety.com

10 ways the social media landscape is changing – what does the future look like?

10 ways the social media landscape is changing – what does the future look like?

We’ve had a solid year of continuous bad news about social media – from data breaches, to election tampering, fake news, loss of engagement, and everything in between. We are on the cusp of a new era for social. With the cogs already in motion, we’ve identified our 10 reasons as to why social as we know it is changing, and what we think the future looks like for brands, communities, and influencers in the near future.