Seeking advise for community management- conceptualization

Hello everyone, my name is Chad.

I am hoping to get some advise about how best to approach conceptualizing a forum community as a CM.

I have never managed a community, but I do have a pretty basic understanding of what it entails. I’m also actively researching this subject, so I’m learning more and more as I go.

The situation in a nutshell:

I have pitched an idea for a forum community to some of my favorite content creators [podcast], and they like the idea. They do not have the time to take the project on themselves. They are, however, okay with this being a listener led project- which they will facilitate and fund.

Which basically makes me the driving force behind this project.

They have been producing content for 7+ years, and have a pretty decent following, my guesstimate is somewhere in the ballpark of 150-200,000. I haven’t asked them for this information, that’s just a shot from the hip after looking at their Patreon/YT/FB and IG sub and like numbers.

They have a listener led private FB group, but from what I understand, only a small percent of their listeners actually use FB. Their community is scattered throughout the platforms currently available to them (YT, FB, IG and Patreon). Several listeners have voiced a desire for a forum too, from what I understand.

BUT they [the creators] don’t have an actual team/administration under them. Which means that I will have to vet staff volunteers one by one.

My question is:

Do I need to assemble a staff team before I start the formal comm. conceptualization process?

What [and when] would be the best way to approach assembling a team? Since they do not have one dedicated platform for their community to interact with, should they put out a formal “help wanted” add in their podcast and then direct all the traffic to me?

Or is there something much more prudent I should be focusing on at this stage?

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

-Chad

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No, definitely not. You need the community up and running with some content, first and most of all. There has to be a place for people to go before anything else is relevant.

So in the sense that you are recruiting early power users to help you seed the initial content / conversations then perhaps, but thinking of it in terms of “build a staff”, that’s premature until the site … exists.

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Hmm :thinking:

So,

  • open up the forum first
  • set it up all by my lonesome
  • then field for/assemble a staff [mods etc]?
  • fine tune the forum and begin generating content for the community to interact with
  • open up the floodgates?
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Almost, you may want to recruit one or two power users (people who post a lot and talk a lot and know the existing community well) on board as helpers when the site comes online, to help seed it with content.

But I would not delay, unless you have a place for them to actually go and add topics & replies, it is kind of academic, isn’t it?

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How would I go about this as professionally as possible? Right now, like I mentioned, the community is pretty scattered throughout the various platforms available to them [private FB group, IG, Patreon and YT]. Should I just lurk around and look for quality contributors on these various platforms and then reach out to them privately?

Sorry if these are silly questions, I just want to approach this as professionally as possible.

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Yes, I think that’s an excellent idea! Being a quality contributor yourself :necktie: I think you’d have a good hunch on maybe ~2 other folks to help pitch in when seeding the site with content.

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Alright cool.

And what about the “staff”? Would I just keep an eye out for potential mods as people start to come through the forum and approach them as the community begins to grow?

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Yup, totally this. Get a feel for the people that have the same approach to things as you do. The most important thing about staff is that you can trust them to make decisions that you are comfortable with, in your absence.

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This honestly feels counterintuitive to me, but logically it does make sense. There really isn’t a better way to approach the situation.

Thanks you guys!

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One of the biggest mistakes that people make when starting a community from scratch is over-thinking, over-planning and over-engineering things based on assumptions of what might happen. Start really small with just the bare minimum. One person is more than enough to moderate a brand new community, especially on Discourse. As you scale the community you can bring on appropriate new resource and reconsider your structure.

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Wow, this is true about a lot of things!

Okay then, I guess I’ll just have to take the plunge.

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That said it is a VERY good idea to recruit new users who can help you grow the site, and have them there on day zero. But all that is predicated on actually launching the thing :rocket:

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I moderated my community myself until I had about 8000 members. I don’t think that would have been possible without Discourse’s built in moderation features. Go for it! :slight_smile:

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I’m late to this, but another suggestion: answer two big questions right up front.

  1. What is the community for?

  2. Who is the community for?

Be as specific as you can, since the answers will drive much of your initial design work.

Sure, it might change over time, but at least set some guardrails up for yourself.

Good luck!

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Hey I appreciate the advise! I am currently building the forum, and I definitely have a clear answer for both of these questions. At least, clear enough to lay a thoughtful foundation.

I’m trying to keep the site as simple as possible, to start.

I’m anticipating the first question’s answer to change [slightly] over time as the community matures. When that time comes, we will strive to facilitate the directions in which the community naturally wants to grow.

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Absolutely. Simple is good. I manage a small business community (using different technology) and we redesigned it based on member feedback after the first year. The main feedback was Simplify! Simplify!
I had created so many forum categories nobody knew where to post!

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