6 July, 2022

How Do I Grow My Community Fast?

Dominic Kentby

Dominic Kent

Whether your community is a Slack community or growing on social media, cadence and quality are the most crucial factors to grow your community fast.

But one needs the other. There’s no point creating quality community content if you have 0 members. Likewise, rushing to a goal number of members but compromising on quality will only lead them to churn.

The key is finding the balance.

In this post, we reveal the best community engagement method, the importance of your first 100 users, and how to build a cadence when growing a community.

How do you grow a community from scratch?

They say starting is the hardest part. And some say the best advice is to “just start”.

But a better way to grow a community from scratch is to have a solid plan behind it.

When you’re starting out, write your mission statement. This is why your community exists and the purpose it will serve.

You can change this over time. But having a mission statement will help you in the early days when it comes to identifying your first members.

When you have your mission statement, decide on where you’ll host your community.

What platform will be the main place people get together?

You’ve got a lot of options here. Pick what’s best for your community. 

It should be something familiar or simple to use. If new members already know how to use the tool, you skip technical onboarding and start participating from day one.

Online community platforms

Community platforms include:

  • Slack
  • Patreon
  • Circle
  • Mighty Networks
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Sociabble
  • Discord
  • Tribe
  • Thinkific
  • Vanilla Forums
  • Insided
  • Jive
  • SocioHub

When you’ve chosen your platform, it’s tempting to rush out and invite everybody. Growth is the name of the game, right?

Wrong.

Invite a select few people to test the water and get used to how things are going to work in your community.

Why?

Because these will be your guinea pigs. The people who will help iron out the creases before new members join. Your goal in inviting these people is to make your genuine members’ experience as great as possible (without feeling like it’s new and you’re working out how things will work).

Choose contacts who will give honest feedback about what you plan to share and how you’ll engage with members. Implement their suggested changes before you go looking for your first 100 members.

How to get your first 100 community members

In all reality, your first 10 (or even your first 100) members are likely going to be first-hand connections or friends of friends.

They could be your friends, colleagues, or even co-founders of the community. 

Approach your first members personally. Reach out to them via email, Twitter DM, or even ask them face to face.

Use a friendly approach to explain you’re starting a new community and you’d love to get their input before you start your first growth phase.

Let’s say, at this point, you’ve hit five members. Iron out the creases with them then move onto your first wave of growing your community fast.

Community growth tactics 1.0

Here are some tactics to kick start your community growth:

  1. Share a welcome post on your personal Twitter.
  2. Share a welcome post on your personal LinkedIn.
  3. Share a welcome post on your personal Facebook.
  4. Create a launch video using Tella welcoming people.
  5. Share your launch video on your personal social media.

When it comes to creating a launch video, use Tella to record yourself walking through some key elements of your community.

Use the screen share option to literally show people the features and content you’ll be posting. Then edit out anything you didn’t like using the in-app editing and customisation features.

You can even create a custom background to match that of your community.

Don’t worry about folks who watch videos with their sound off, either. Tella automatically adds subtitles for you!

These are basic tactics to reach your primary connections. If they follow or connect with you, they are good targets for your online community.

Exhaust your personal audience by sending warm emails and direct messages on social media. This should get things moving to double figures and beyond.

Community growth tactics 2.0

When you’ve moved through your personal connections, growing your community fast depends on external sources. 

Here are some higher-effort methods of growing your community.

1 - Dedicate an entire day to launching

When you launch anything (a product, community, service), it’s important to dedicate the entire  day. No distractions and no other projects.

Your entire social media and outbound communications must reflect what an important element this is for you.

You could launch on Product Hunt. Setting up is simple: follow the steps and upload content where prompted.

At the video stage, use Tella to record, customise, and download your video. You can combine multiple clips and apply custom layouts to stand out from other people also launching that day.

Check out the best Product Hunt Videos of 2021 here.

2 - Hang out in similar communities

Charlie Ward, Founder of Ramen Club, advocates hanging out in similar communities to yours. This is a neat tactic that exposes you to two things:

  1. An audience that will potentially join your community.
  2. Ideas and practices that do/don’t work so you can replicate yourself.

When you become an active member in a community, your name (or at least your profile photo) becomes known to other members.

When you’ve contributed and built your own credibility, you can reach out to existing members and tell them why you think your community would be a good fit for them too.

You might even have the opportunity to pay (or not) for promotion of your community within this community. 

3 - Create adverts for podcasts and newsletters

Charlie also suggests running ads on podcasts or newsletters in these communities. It’s one thing participating in the Slack workspace but the most dedicated community members are consuming content across multiple channels.

These are the people you need to target.

Reach out to the community founder or manager and request a media pack or rates for sponsoring their podcast or newsletter.

Every community will have different requirements. Be ready to record a high-quality audio advert or write some neat copy to accommodate an attention-grabbing image.

For the audio, you might need to invest in a high-quality mic. The prices for these can be daunting. If you plan on creating podcasts or videos in the long term, we recommend the Shure MV7.

This practice was mirrored by Araminta Robertson who posted an ad on her own podcast. This reinforces how close to home your first users might be.

If you have existing assets like a podcast or newsletter of your own, use these to spread the word of your new community.

Why your first 100 members are the most important

Your first 100 members are those who will do several things throughout the lifetime of your community:

  1. Refer their friends and peers.
  2. Remain loyal for the longest time.
  3. Take part from the beginning and become super users.

If you plan to grow your community fast, pay special attention to these people. Looking after them is the easiest hack to starting genuine cadence in your community.

How to build cadence when growing a community

Participation is the name of the game when it comes to growing a community.

Your participation and your member’s participation. And in the early days, yours drives theirs.

Think about the very first thing you want a new member to see. Which of these options sounds better?

  1. Automated onboarding sequence 
  2. Personalised video tour

Assuming you picked the second option (🤞), it may seem like a big ask to create a personalised video every time a new member joins.

And you’d be right.

Rather than creating a new video every time, use Tella to create the basic onboarding clip you want everyone to see. This could be 30 seconds or 10 minutes. 

Then, instead of creating that every time you have a new member, re-use that clip and record a quick personalised introduction. 

With Tella, you can merge clips together to create one powerful and personalised onboarding video.

If you run a technical community, you can re-use this tactic to create a video knowledge base for new and existing members to reference.

Once you’ve kick-started your community and your early members are referring their peers, you could leave it at that. 

In fact, when we interviewed Slack founders on how they grew their communities, they all mentioned natural organic growth because they created a high-quality experience.

One thing you can do to encourage the chance of a referral is…ask!

Sometimes, it really is that simple. There are a few ways you can do this.

1 - Ask by messaging people directly

The most straightforward way to grow a community is by asking members if they know someone else who’d like to join.

Your message can be as simple as:

“Hey Grant, you’ve been participating in this community for a while now. Are there any friends you think would benefit from this too? Invite them using this special link.”

(The link doesn’t have to be special but you might choose to reward them through an affiliate system.)

2 - Ask the entire group

If you run a Slack community, you could @ mention an entire channel every week/month/when the time feels right with a similar message.

This removes the personal outreach feel but is useful when you’ve already got a lot of members.

“@channel I hope you’re all loving this community. To help us spread the word, invite your friends using this special link.”

(Special link once again optional.)

3 - Create automations to do the hard work for you

You could go a step further and create a trigger to send automated messages when members reach milestone dates in your community.

Check out this example where a message was triggered after being a member for a week. At this stage, the message suggests you can upgrade your free membership to unlock more perks.

Set up automations to encourage existing members to invite peers and grow your community

You could use this to invite new members or introduce a rewards program.

Do consider rewarding members for referring friends and colleagues if you run a paid membership program. 

Members may love your community but an incentive to invite others is stronger than pure enjoyment. You can reward members with a % of the new member’s sign-up fee.

Ready to grow your community?

Now it’s time to put these suggestions into action.

To recap, here’s your five-step plan:

  1. Write a community mission statement.
  2. Spend time creating a quality environment.
  3. Target your first 100 users within your personal connections.
  4. Set aside a dedicated launch day (on Product Hunt and social media).
  5. Create a regular growth cadence through other communities, sponsorships, and referrals.

Don’t forget you can use Tella to create personalised onboarding videos (that don’t take forever).

Sign up for Tella (it’s free!).