Easy Come, Easy Go: Why to Toss (Or Re-Evaluate) Your Community Programming

When should you end a Community program? I came across this question in Matt Laurenceau‘s fantastic article on Community Programming, and it’s been on my brain ever since. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for your programming, and naturally a host of reasons to consider that aren’t touched upon here, I decided to share a few common pitfalls I’ve seen Community Programming fall into.

1. It’s the Mayor of ghost town.

Image result for tumbleweed free use

There’s no shortage of resources written about Community Ghost-Towns. Places that once were vibrant, robust areas of discussions are now showing their age, and sometimes cobwebs, of inactivity.

Reason to toss it:

Members who come into these places are immediately aware of the digital dust that’s gathered in these areas. Leaving up programs that have clearly expired sends a message to your users that their engagement is not a requirement for entry, a death knell for engagement.

Reason to reconsider:

Some programs may have died off, and should be left up. Why? Perhaps it includes an incredibly valuable evergreen resource to share with others. I’ve seen Communities successfully amend older threads and site areas as well, giving them new life and purpose.

2. It cannot be sustained.

Image result for growing garden

It has happened to all of us. We come up with a project or idea with the best of intentions, but life gets in the way (not unlike my 4-day-a-week gym resolution of 2019). Perhaps the project needed too many man hours, or required an immense amount of hand holding to get it to stick.

Reason to toss it:

Community initiatives that need an extensive amount of attention can end up putting your Community engagement in the red. When you’re putting effort into one program, you are deciding against other Community needs that may require your attention. Being an effective Community Manager means knowing how to navigate around these programming rabbit holes.

Reason to reconsider:

A task that may require TLC may be the perfect fit for an intern, or summer project when the Community intensity may lessen. Who knows, the benefits may not be fully actualized yet and just needs another set of hands to help grow.

3. Right Idea, Wrong Time

Even the most veteran Community Managers can fall into the “Right Idea, Wrong Time” trap. Perhaps they had deployed a program in a Community previously that was ready for more advanced engagement strategy, or maybe the technology simply doesn’t support the full vision of your program.

Reason to toss it:

If a program isn’t matching where your Community Members are at, it makes more sense to re-evaluate the programming than to think your members interests and reason for frequenting your Community will change.

Reason to reconsider:

A bad apple doesn’t ruin the bunch, in this instance. Perhaps the Gamification idea you had isn’t able to be implemented with your technology, but there’s a clever way to integrate a point system on a profile page.

A few final words: At its best, your Community Programming should try to exist in flux, adapting and innovating over time. As your members and Community grow, so should the efforts to keep them engaged and interested.

What are your best Community Programming wins? Share your feedback below!

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