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This presentation covers various life cycle stages in an online community and how you can identify the stages. Plan different action items for each stage of the life cycle. If you can successfully execute the activities, you'll be able to amplify the potential of the community as well as the value it delivers to your business.
Community Life Cycle
Plan Activities and Grow with the Stages
Online communities have existed in different forms
since the beginning of the internet.
At Tribe, we have launched several large and
small communities by closely partnering with our clients.
With the experience of launching and growing communities,
we have identified common stages in the community life cycle.�
This presentation is based on five life cycle stages
Development 2-12 weeks
Inception 0-6 weeks
Expansion 7-18 months
Maturity 1.5-3 years
Autonomy 2+ years
This is the precursor stage of
any online community.
You would first get the internal
buy-in from the organization and
finalize a blueprint that can be
followed to launch the online
Action items for development stage
Focus on one primary objective -- it could be anything from brand building to
customer success and product ideation.
Create a document and add the team members required to support the
You need to finalize the technology stack and create a brief for the community
This includes creating a process for member acquisition, establishing
community guidelines, moderation rules, onboarding strategy, content
generation plan, engagement plan (e.g., gamification techniques).
This is the precursor stage of any
It is generally marked by the time
when you start interacting with
Action items for the inception stage
Your goal is to acquire a small set of highly focused members who would be
most active in the community. Hence, identify, recruit, and nurture a group of
members to support various discussions as well as networking events.
Tap into an existing audience base, forge partnerships with influencers, invite
relevant members from generic social media sites, promote on channels such as
Quora, and Product Hunt, create a referral program, etc.
Create a content calendar and start generating ideas around your key topics.
You need to aim for authority in the domain, focus on SEO, and maximize the
content reach by distributing via different channels.
Validate that you are heading in the right direction in terms of execution by
collecting feedback and closing the loop.
It is critical to convey the vision of the community from the very beginning and
align the members with long-term goals.
This stage is identified by growth
in engagement and surge in new
The community would have
garnered higher visibility and the
need for you to generate
engagement would decrease.
Action items for the expansion stage
Your key focus would be around establishing a scalable blueprint to further
increase new member acquisition, improve onboarding, and engagement.
Focus on promoting your community and increasing awareness using
techniques such as AMA sessions, showcasing the social proof extracted from
the community in your site, tapping into the referral networks of the superusers.
Create engagement activities (e.g., exclusive online events) that appeal to the
sense of belonging. Another key element is the development of certain
community cultures and rituals to strengthen the bond between members.
Track how your community has been performing based on the metrics for the
business goal and the value generated by the community for your company.
This stage can be identified by
an established and strong sense
The members would be
organically engaged and the
majority of the activities would
be driven by the members.
Action items for maturity stage
Take the relationship with the members to the next level by partnering with
them for idea generation. Work n high-level ideas related to content generation,
events, infrastructure to ensure that the sense of community is stronger.
You would work on establishing your community as a leader by showcasing case
studies, participating in events, telling your success story at events, and getting
Since the majority of the content in this stage would be created by the
members, your focus would be on properly organizing the content. The
activities inside the community would be at the peak.
Prepare the internal supporting materials (e.g., success stories and impact on
business) as well as documentation on existing shortcomings to secure
resources and prepare the community for the next stage.
At this stage, the sense of community and internal culture would be well-
established. The members in your MVP (Most Valuable Person) program are
ready to step up their role so they can act as mentors.
This is the final stage and once
the community reaches this
stage, it goes into a self-
The size of the community
outgrows the shared identity,
passion, and connectedness of
Action items for autonomy stage
The sub-communities inside your community would grow and you should
empower the creators of those spaces inside your community to invite new
Focus would be on creating robust engagement plans via the sub-groups or
independently managed channels. You will repetitively work with the owners of
those subgroups to engage the members.
It is time to scour through the content and update or archive outdated content.
Also, ensure that the way you are organizing content still makes sense for the
members. That way you can present the most relevant content to the members.
If your community reaches this stage, you would already have a strong retention
rate. The members would be coming back to the community automatically and
traffic via search engines would be high as well.
You would want to create custom metrics to measure the success of your
community. For example, you might want to introduce a score on the sense of
connectedness of the members.
community life cycle
Amplify the potential of the community as well as the value it
delivers to your business by carefully planning key activities
based on the life cycle stage.
For questions and more information