Start Your Community Makeover

By Lindsay Starke posted Jan 20, 2016 12:37 PM




It’s a new year, so how about starting off with a clean slate? Now is as good a time as any to clean up your community for a fresh 2016. You may not even realize the photos look stale or you forgot to change the date on a page buried deep in the community. It’s hard to catch the little mistakes when you visit your community every day, which is why it’s important to comb through it every once in awhile.


We collected a few community makeover tips to help you get started:

Check those slide images.

How much do you trust a website advertising an event that happened months ago? It’s easy to forget about your community’s images when you’re so focused on moderating conversation. Now is a good time to go through all site images -- especially those sliding banners since it’s the first thing people see! -- and make sure they’re current. Do you have any leftovers announcing last year’s events? Do you still have “Happy Holidays!” and “Happy New Year!” banner images? Clean any stragglers out and make sure your images are up to date.


Don’t get in the habit of only doing this once a year. Rather than thinking of it as your “yearly clean up,” think of it as the beginning of a new resolution. Set up regular calendar reminders to check through photos and change sliding banners (weekly, monthly, quarterly - whatever works for you). Create an action plan and list of images you’ll need throughout the year so you’re always up to date.

Update all copy.

Now it’s time to put on those reading glasses. Little details are easy to mess up but look bad and confuse members/customers. Check the bottom of every page to make sure the address and phone number are correct -- did you recently move offices? Who knows what you’ll catch; maybe there’s a little typo like an extra digit in your contact number you only just realized.


Besides little details like the footer, the new year is a good time to audit all your site’s copy. That doesn’t mean you have to read through every discussion and edit out typos --it’s not your job and it’s not useful. What is good to read over is the copy your organization produced, like an “About” page or support/help documents. Since people don’t read these every day, it’s easy for them to get outdated without anyone noticing.


Another good document to re-read are your terms and conditions. If nothing else, consider it a refresher. You may also notice typos, changes or areas for improvement to suggest to the community management team. As always, it’s usually a good idea to have a lawyer look over any changes you want to make, and notify your users if you do update anything.

Set up some new automation rules to kickstart lurking members.

Want to convert some of those pesky lurkers to take action? Brainstorm and set up a few automation rules to get their attention.


First, decide what metric you want to increase -- target people who have never posted before? Or bring back a once active member who isn’t active any more? Knowing your goal will help you craft your rule. Next, come up with a hypothesis: what do you expect will happen when you set up the automation? Finally, put the rule in place and measure the results. It may take a little time to get usable data, depending on the rule and number of people involved, but give it a few months. Once you have enough data you can decide how to tweak the rule or the tactic.

Rethink your newsletters -- consolidated digests anyone?

Do you have regular contact with members? A newsletter or digest is an excellent way to stay top of mind with members, with minimal intrusion. Even if they don’t log in every day, at least that email pops up reminding them of your site’s existence and that people are active. It’s a good tool for prompting community habits for your members/customers.


If you have a newsletter, now is a good time to reevaluate the structure, frequency and content. How many people are signed up and are you satisfied with your open rates? We recommend the automatic enrollment approach -- all new members automatically get signed up for digests. It’s hard to get people to sign up, but easy for them to unsubscribe if they don’t want your content.

Create a “Quick Tips” sheet.

You probably get a lot of the same questions over and over again. Or maybe you see a pattern in the types of questions members/customers ask each other in your community. Since you’re so used to answering them, hopefully it won’t be too hard to type them out and put it on your community. Rather than being reactive, this will help you be proactive, saving you time in the future.


To raise awareness about the “Quick Tips” sheet and make sure it’s comprehensive, start a discussion amongst your members. What questions do they have or what questions do they frequently answer for fellow members/customers? Depending on how much information you receive, you could opt for a small, easy quick tips sheet or make this document a comprehensive guide.

Take Action on Your New Community Makeover Resolutions

Although January is a good time to clean your slate and start resolutions, all of these tips are helpful to keep in mind no matter the time of year. Rather than thinking of them as a box to check, think of them as a habit to form.


What are your community makeover tips?

#Maintenance #Staff #How To