Create a copy of the CXL survey and interview toolkit.
Use it to write your survey, interviews, and participant criteria.
Write a customer survey to test your assumptions about your potential founding community members, and the wider community that you want to build.
Consider assumptions you might have made about their:
- Demographics and psychographics.
- Technical fluency.
- Career and personal goals.
- Current community memberships.
- Motivations and aspirations.
Always give another option when providing multiple choice categories, such as which topics audience members would like to discuss in your community. Otherwise, respondents will be forced to pick an option they might not agree with. Similarly, offer the option of providing less than the asked-for number of questions, such as picking their top three responses.
At the end of the survey, ask for contact information and consent to reach out for further interviews. Finally, ask respondents if there is anything else they wish to share or that they wish you had asked, providing an open-ended response field.
Decide criteria for the people you’ll recruit to take your survey. Look for people who are already interacting with your brand if you want to talk to potential founding members.
Another option is to survey a selection of your entire audience.
Skip the survey if you have already established relationships with community members that match your core user group and personas.
Keep the survey open for up to 5 business days.
This will help you gather information on whether community members might be slow to respond in general.
Schedule interviews with survey respondents who have consented to provide further information.
Video and phone calls tend to be enough for basic information and provide geographic and accessible flexibility.
Avoid offering incentives or swag, which may prevent you from finding participants who are intrinsically motivated to participate in the community. Finally, be clear that the reasons for the interview are building a community and wanting to hear from potential members.
Ask questions about recent events that happen regularly or something deeply memorable, rather than about what they want.
Most participants won’t be able to easily answer what they want, or their answer may not match their action. Asking them to engage their memory allows you to build insights based on their actions, not just hypotheticals.
Interview at least one member a week for 20–30 minutes, even after the community has taken off.
Create an ongoing schedule of interviews to create a continuous flow of insights from your members.
Compile your survey and interview insights by pulling out quantitative patterns and inductively deriving themes.
Quantitative patterns can include demographics, psychographics, identities, and priorities. Themes can revolve around urgent needs, desired outcomes, motivations, priorities, and what members can contribute.
Create community personas based on common themes and quantitative patterns that describe the different types of members your community will serve.
A community persona is a framework for identifying members served, based on real people, which provides rich context to help you evaluate all community decisions. It is continually consulted, referenced, and refined.
Personas can be text- or image-based. Include elements like the members’ identities, personalities, current behaviors, tech savviness, what they can contribute to the community, concrete outcomes they seek from joining the community, potential demotivators, and quotations from real interviews, which cover their needs, desires, and personalities.