Why you need to consolidate your community platforms
Words like ‘operations’ and ‘consolidation’ used to make me want to fall asleep. If that stuff sounds super boring to you, stick with me! I’m going to tell you a story of how someone just like you, overcame their frustrations and came out the other side a better entrepreneur and community builder.
I did a terrible job consolidating my community offerings
Let me share the real story of how my company’s early community experience was (this is a little painful to even read back…). Here was our setup:
We would go to our email marketing platform and email our list to attend a community event.
Members would have to register on our webinar platform and sign up to attend.
They would join the live webinar and engage in the live chat with other community members.
They would then continue the conversations afterwards across two Facebook groups (the few who bothered to make the trip over to that platform anyway).
In short, it was a messy, overly complicated nightmare, both for our members and our team managing things behind the scenes.
A scattered community creates a poor member experience
When your community experience is scattered across multiple platforms and touch-points like this, you’re creating unnecessary effort and friction for your members. At best, they’ll feel frustrated. At worst, they just won’t bother.
Sadly, this example is something I see all the time with other people’s communities.
They have their members jumping from Patreon, to Discord, to Facebook, to Teachable, to their website. It quickly becomes a hot mess as their members are dragged along for the ride.
My first big win with consolidation
We actually experienced a similar thing with our internal team communications at my company. We would jump from emails to Slack, to Zoom, to Skype calls. It was a total nightmare. Since we migrated our entire team into G-suite, we get all of our work and internal comms done in our central place. It’s been a TOTAL game-changer for our business.
I’ve seen the power of consolidating things under one platform first hand:
- Lower platform costs (one versus many)
- Fewer security considerations
- No ongoing platform maintenance
- No software/platform updates to worry about
- Less task-switching (let’s face it, jumping between endless different platforms is as much fun as playing tetherball with a bee-hive).
Consolidating our community platforms
Embracing the power of consolidation, I became determined to find a consolidated solution for our community members too.
I knew we wanted to do a few key things:
- Have a dedicated community forum platform (unfortunately most of the community platforms out there seemed to be course platforms masquerading as a dedicated community platform)
- Allow us to host live events for members
- Let us have gated paywall areas for premium members
- Let us manage members analytics
It didn’t feel like too big of an ask, but we went through a whole R&D exercise with my team, and none of the options felt right.
My favourite consolidated community platform
Thankfully, my friend and incredible UK-based entrepreneur Dan Murray-Serter (CEO at Heights and fellow community lover) sent me a link to a new platform he’d stumbled across called Circle. We were basically geeking out about community on a call and he said ‘I think you’ll like this’.
I watched Circle’s homepage video and immediately got that gut feel I get sometimes as an entrepreneur where I know I’ve just discovered something magical. I signed up for a free trial immediately.
Since signing up for Circle for both my main company and personal brand over a year ago, I absolutely love it. I’ve become a happy customer, use the platform daily and even speak in their community as an official Circle expert. It’s like the community platform I was waiting for my whole career. They have continued to rapidly evolve the Circle platform, so now my communities benefit from:
- A thriving forum for members
- Private / group messaging
- Native events right inside the community (members can RSVP, add to calendar etc)
- Live streaming!
- Paid memberships and paywalls on specific spaces in the forum
- The ability to host content like resources, knowledge bases and even courses
- Analytics and data for my team to monitor
My members don’t have to go anywhere else, and neither do I.
Compared to the hot-mess we had with endless platforms, costs and places to switch between, I’ve literally never felt calmer, happier and able to focus more on my actual community members!
Consolidate your community platform
I work with a lot of members in Learn.Community (our community for community builders) and whenever I see someone’s community unnecessarily spread between 2-3+ platforms, I always immediately speak to them about my experiences with consolidation. Time and time again I see our members benefit from the ‘all under one roof’ approach that Circle offers.
If you’re interested in trying Circle, to help consolidate your community, they’re offering a 14 day free trial.
And if you do go with them, let me know! I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have, plus I’d just generally love to hear how you enjoy using the platform and benefitting from simplicity. I would love to help you to consolidate your community offerings.
PS: This article features affiliate links. I’ve spent the past year recommending Circle to everyone I know and I love using it personally – so it made sense to join their partner program. If you do sign up for Circle via my link, it means the world, as I receive a small commission.