Decide how many founding members to invite. Most communities only need 3-10 founding members for a successful start.
Founding members are the early community members who shepherd the community from its beginning to the critical mass stage. Lean on the higher end of the range when targeting more personas with the end goal of a larger community.
Set clear qualifications for your founding members, including a shared positive purpose and values.
General requirements that all founding members tend to need are:
- Strong opinions grounded in knowledge.
- Willing to commit and reliable.
- Available and interested in being part of a community.
- Ideally have previously participated in a community.
Business-specific requirements might include:
- Has spent $X on your products.
- Logged in to your product X times a month.
Clarify expectations for founding members before inviting them.
Founding members may not always live up to these expectations; setting them maximizes the chances that they will. Explain exactly how you want founding members to participate and how they can best help to achieve the community’s goals.
Craft a synchronous or asynchronous campfire experience – such as a workshop, meet up, or networking event.
Give founding members the time, permission, and space to share with everyone else in the group.
Campfire experiences can help founding members grow their sense of mutual concern for each other’s welfare, which is a core part of the community definition. Make your expectations clear so everyone knows how they can share information with each other.
Examples of campfire experiences:
- An educational workshop all founding members attend.
- A meetup or party.
- A discussion space for everyone online.
- A networking event at a relevant location.
Craft a founding member invitation that includes a compelling case for joining and a clear call to action to sign up.
- A succinct introduction to the community’s purpose and the invitation.
- An acknowledgment of their current commitment that has led to the invitation.
- The reasons why they might like to join the community.
- Social proof, like an acknowledgment of how many people have already joined.
- An opportunity for the recipient to provide their consent to join.