Ever heard the phrase “build it and they will come?”

Well, we have and we’re here to tell you that when it comes to building your own app for your community, it’s not necessarily true.

Yep. You read that right. That quote doesn’t really apply here. Because successfully launching your own dedicated community space and getting your community to join and follow you there takes time and careful planning.

And that’s what this blog post can help with – the planning and steps you need to take to successfully migrate your community into your (and their) own dedicated community space.

Here’s what this blog post is not about. It’s not about the benefits for you and your community of building and launching your own community app. Although there are loads of those, which you can read about here and here.

No, this blog post is all about how to communicate those benefits effectively to your community. To make sure they know why you’re launching your new community app and why they should go through all the trouble of signing up to yet another online service.

Effectively communicating that your app is a unique space where community members will get a unique community experience is what will ultimately get them to follow you to your new, owned community space.

So let’s dig in, shall we? Here are our 6 steps to successfully migrating your community into your own community app.

A child standing at the bottom of a set of stairs

1. Plan. Way in advance.

You need to give yourself and your community members plenty of time. Time for you to build awareness about the move. Time for your community to get used to the idea and understand why you’re moving. You’ll also need time to launch your new app and give your members time to sign up, onboard themselves and get settled in their new community surroundings.

How long this’ll take depends on a lot of factors (like your community size, how often you communicate, which platforms you’ll be moving from etc.) so your timeframe will be unique to your community. But, based on our experience, you should do this over a period of months. Not weeks. And definitely not days.

As a rough guide, you should start telling your members about their new community space at least a month ahead of moving day. Minimum.

2. Explain. The full story.

Chances are, an app for sharing a common passion with like-minded people is just what your community’s looking for. They just don’t know it yet!

So make it really clear to them why you’re making the move. It may be that it’s getting too expensive to keep paying to reach all of your community members on Facebook or big social platforms. Or perhaps you don’t have enough control over the community interface or experience.

Whatever the reason, you just need to make it clear to your community members. Especially if they’re quite happy getting their information and updates via Facebook or wherever your current community space is.

From what we’ve seen, communities can be quite protective of their space because they’ve contributed so much time, thought and effort into making that space what it is. So you’ll need to explain why you’re disrupting that experience and why the new experience will be better.

When you’re doing this though, just make sure the emphasis is on what’s in it for them, rather than how much easier it’ll make things for you.

3. Engage. To sell the new space.

Something we’ve seen work really well in the past is giving the community a glimpse of the unique value they’ll find in their shiny new community app. Perhaps a clip of some exclusive content. Or a hint at a competition that’ll only be accessible via the new community app.

Reassure them that they’ll keep getting all the great content and experiences via the same social, interactive features they’ve come to know and love. But with the added benefits of it all being in their own personalised community space that’s dedicated just to their community and the people who gather there.

Really get to grips with what those benefits are for your community members (ie. deeper relationships with each other, more control over how their community works, a higher level of access and exclusive content) and keep communicating those benefits to your members.

4. Excite. With exclusivity.

Don’t be afraid to use every trick in the community building book to create a sense of buzz and anticipation around your new community app. From what we’ve seen, the best way to build that buzz is to offer something in the app that your community members won’t find anywhere else.

Getting that right will give your new app a whole new level of unique value and turn it into something your community will undoubtedly want to be part of.

Here’s a great example from one of our customers – Luke Bryan. Luke’s team (or Team LB as they like to be called) are masters of building unique value and exclusivity into Luke’s community app. They’ve found an amazing way to keep a steady stream of new members arriving in Luke’s subscription-based community app every day: exclusive app-only competitions and backstage livestreams with Luke.

That means Luke’s app community members are the only people who have access to backstage livestreams with Luke. And they’re the only people who can enter the in-app competitions to win tickets to Luke’s shows and even a chance to meet the man himself.

But what does all this mean? Well, it means that joining Luke’s app community gives you a completely different fan experience than you’ll find anywhere else. And that’s exactly the incentive Luke’s community of fans and followers need to subscribe to his app. Pretty smart, right?

Now you just need to think of what your equivalent is. Take a second to think of what your most popular type of content is with your community members. Got it? That’s the content you need to reserve solely for your app community to incentivise people to join you there. Simple, right?

And, to continue the theme of simplicity…

Arrow pointing to a community space

5. Onboard. Simply.

We can’t stress enough the importance of making it easy for your community to move to your new app. Avoid complicated sign-up processes and the temptation of asking for reams of information from them at the outset. The more fields in your sign-up form, the more people will drop off before they hit submit. That’s just a fact.

So keep your initial sign-up form nice and brief – perhaps just email, first name, last name and an opt-in checkbox.

The most important thing is that your members can easily join their new community space and start interacting and connecting with you, your content and each other. So make that process as simple as possible with as few steps and barriers to entry as you realistically can.

Our tech team at Disciple have poured a lot of love and hard work into the onboarding flow for the apps we build. So you won’t have to worry about the technology. Our platform makes it as easy as pie for your members to move over to your new community.

Plus, our friendly Customer Success team and their trusty Help Centre will be here to give you support and guidance – if you need it – to smooth out the onboarding process.

6. Reward.

One thing we’ve learned is that rewarding early movers is a great way to encourage others to follow suit. Your aim is to give them an experience that will turn them into advocates. Evangelists who’ll happily spread the word among their wider networks.

Your first priority is to make sure there’s plenty of cool content and activity in your new community app when they get there. So fill those feeds with exclusive content, personalised welcome videos thanking them for joining and lots of ways to start interacting with you and each other.

Once you’ve got all that going, you can start thinking about more involved reward schemes like referrals. For example, you could give out free tickets, merchandise or discount codes to members who encourage 5 of their fellow members to join the new community space.

But that can come later. Let’s keep it simple for now.

Illustration of people doing yoga

So there you have them. Our 6 simple steps to help you migrate your social, email and website audiences into your own dedicated mobile meeting place.

You may be thinking that there’s a big part of this story missing: the tech. But we haven’t talked about the tech here because it simply works in the background to make all of this possible.

It’s our job here at Disciple to focus on the tech so that you can focus on your community. Of course, if you’re interested in the tech that powers all of this community goodness, you can take a closer look at our platform and some of its key community features here.

But if there’s one key takeaway we’d like to leave you with at the end of this article, it’s this: work out how your new community app will improve the community experience for your members and communicate that to them.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments section below 👇

If that all makes sense then happy migrating! 🏡