There’s a saying: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Anyone who has built or managed a community will tell you making mistakes is inevitable.
It could be errors in judgment, missed opportunities, or not having the adequate knowledge to handle an issue. Learning from them and moving forward can lead to growth, not only for your community but for your career as a Community Manager as well.
That is why we’ve put together a list of mistakes made by other CMs that you can learn from to avoid or fix in your own community. Let’s dive in.
Having a solid strategy is essential to a community’s survival and growth. Seems like a no brainer, right? Not quite.
Many CMs often get stuck in the day-to-day running of the community and don't take the time to settle down and create a solid strategy.
CMs that fail to build a strategy from day one run the risk of stifling their community’s growth — or worse, leading it to an early end.
If you don’t currently have a strategy in place, it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s never too late to get started with a strategy that can improve how you run your community and the results it can yield.
👉 Need more guidance with your strategy? Here is a step-by-step guide to building your community strategy.
Your community onboarding process is the first look a new member gets to see when joining your community, so if you want to retain them, make it count.
There are basic rules to onboarding, but using a generic template from another community can seem inauthentic and make a member’s first impression of you a bad one.
Community Manager at Cerulean Blue Jephtah Abu says he made this mistake in a previous role and found that it significantly affected the member experience.
“In retrospect, I would have been more intentional with the onboarding process by asking for feedback from members of the community,” says Jephtah.
The best way to do this, he says is to find what works best for your specific community based on factors such as its size, voice, and the experience you want new members to have.
“Go beyond generic welcome messages and personalize it as much as possible to make the new member feel special. Just using a template won’t be enough for a growing community,” he says.
Community guidelines are the road map for your member behavior.
Creating an unclear code of conduct for your members will lead to you having to do more damage control and putting out fires in the long run. During onboarding, your members should know what the culture of the community is and what is expected of them.
Don’t have a good code of conduct right now? Fortunately, it’s never too late to get started or update the one you already have in place.
👉 Need more guidance on how to create and enforce your guidelines? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help.
Running a successful community is not just about intuition. You need to make decisions that are data-driven and can be proven to work. Not doing so can mean wasting your time and money on initiatives that might not be successful or align with business goals.
Community Manager at The Community Club Izzy Ortiz says this was one of their biggest mistakes as a new CM in a previous role.
“Going through C School really helped me to build up my confidence in data-driven decisions by learning how to use Amplitude, Google Analytics, and Statbot for Discord,” says Izzy. “This painted a picture that determined community needs, where the community was, and where we needed it to be.”
Another way you can ensure you're making data-driven decisions is by measuring the success of your community against pre-set metrics. This will help you see where you've gone against your goals for the community and if your efforts actually yield results.
In many companies, Community is still a new function. This can lead to CMs feeling as if they have to constantly prove their worth.
Izzy says one of their biggest mistakes was not advocating for themselves in their previous role as CM at another company.
“I am a quiet, timid person. Because of that I usually go with the flow,” they say. “As a CM — especially working at a company where community was a new concept — I didn't speak up about what the community needed.”
The company was going in one direction and the community was going another, but their voice wasn't being heard, says Izzy.
Izzy says they learned from Brian Oblinger that as a CM they need to speak up and talk to the stakeholders about data-driven decisions and how they are ensuring that the community aligns with the business goals.
"As a new CM I had a lot of self-doubt and imposter syndrome," says Izzy. “I learned that I needed to believe in myself and my abilities. Also, as a BIPOC LGBTQ+ non-binary person, it's hard to do this, but I know my voice was valuable and it needed to be heard,” they say.