Getting started with the community - is this a good strategy?


We’re about to launch a forum for the users of our SaaS customer service tool. I don’t want to let everybody in at the beginning (we have quite big base of our users), I think it’s better to invite personally around 100 users, see what it’s working and what isn’t, ask for feedback and then invite anybody else. So, here’s the plan:

  1. We make our forum pretty
  2. We start by ourselves some discussible topics, that might be attractive for our users
  3. We send personal invitation to around 100 our most active users asking to check it out, use it, let us know what they think (there’ll be a special topic about the community)
  4. We let everybody else in.

Please let me know what you think guys


If you have a centralized database of your customers that they use to log in to their account, I’d highly recommend using SSO instead of invites only. That way, all your customers will be able to directly sign in instead of you having to invite them.


It’s a good strategy that several forums used, especially after a platform change.
I can only suggest you carefully choose the 100 members.
They must have a constructive attitude (if one only knows how to complain, it will not be of any use to you, on the contrary), and be able to dialogue.
Any discussion that comes about “how do you do this or that?” do not take it lightly but answer as accurately as possible and then turn the topic into a how-to. It will be useful for all users who will come later.

User suggestions are always welcome, but remember that you are the administrator and that you have to manage the community and give it a precise direction. You will never be able to please everyone. You also need to know what Discourse can do and what can not do, so you’ll have to try to get to know it as well as possible (even to respond to your users).



I think having some “early adopters” is a good idea. When SitePoint moved from vBulletin to Discourse a few years ago, a staging forum was set up a few months before the move. Staff and a select group of established members were given access to try it out. Staff members were allowed to create and use alias accounts.

It would be a bit different starting with a fresh membership instead of a migration, but the concept is similar. Doing this gives you time to identify and smooth out any problems or at least have members that will be able to explain “how to”, “where is”, etc. questions.

One thing you should prepare yourself for is making calls on any “bike-shedding loops”. You don’t want to delay launch if everyone isn’t happy, you’ll end up never launching.


Hey quick question, kinda OffT, were you able to import your users, topics, and post with the import script? I got errors on both methods and no scripts could run. (its bbpress tho im moving from)

For OP, Ive seen if you get people to share your ‘grand opening’ on the day of it helps, or at any point I guess. Find those people to share that socially

There are lots of things that can go wrong and it can be tricky getting stuff set up to do an import. The bbpress script has been updated recently, though, so it should be working. It can be surprisingly fiddly business doing imports. I’m happy to help if you have a budget (Discourse Migration – Literate Computing, LLC), or you can post specific issues in a new topic or the one about bbpress.

Thanks for the reply and help, Im probably gonna start clean, we literally only have like 30 topic post (mostly introductions and the few ‘bigger’ topics only have about 25 replies)

Also to OP, maybe sure you sync up the announcements with your other social media networks when you do your launch for maximum effect of course. Maybe use something like hootsuite. Encourage your members to share really interesting post via discourse share buttons

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Yup, that’s a solid strategy.

Adding to what @dax says around carefully selecting your first members, they should be people that you already have a good relationship with. In community terms they are known as your ‘founding members’. You should nurture that group carefully so that they become a centralised ‘micro-community’ whom you can promote to superusers or moderators down the line.

I’d actually strongly advise against this. More info on why here: Big Launch Syndrome | FeverBee


I’ve read your article and I was wondering - do you have any examples of communities that failed because of a big, fat launch?

I do. The Evolution Of A Big Community Launch | FeverBee

I can prob come up with a few others if I commit some thought to it.


A “big, fat launch” is symptomatic of deeper conceptual problems, in my opinion… community should never be thought of as a simple one-and-done sprint to a finish line, but as an ongoing marathon where you have to prioritize and invest in sustainable action rather than using up all your energy at the start. :wink:


SO much this ^

A community is not a marketing strategy. Big launches are generally about vanity metrics. They artificially stimulate activity that is generally not sustainable.

I’m not saying that every community that had a big launch has failed, but I am saying that IMO they are generally a gratuitous waste of resources that could be better used elsewhere.


And totally going to echo the above as well. Community != marketing. Sure they can collaborate, and may even live in the department (mine does), but they are different.

Your approach sounds good. In my opinion the “soft launch” to most active founding members is good, but probably only if you don’t already have an active community outside of the forum.

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good info but it seems like you can still do both within reason. You have to advertise some kind of way and thats getting people to know about it. If noone knows about it then no matter how good stuff is there wont be hits. not saying do a 2 thousand person launch with 1 thousand promoting, just saying it helps to have people repost some things at times

Absolutely. You have to market your community, but don’t do it until you have good engagement amongst your beta members.