With the release of new technologies and applications almost everyday, it’s likely that the demand for migrating online communities to new platforms that feature some of the latest functionality will increase.
The migration of an existing online community is, at best, a tricky process for the community manager to lead. Get it right and the vast majority of your existing community members will stay to enjoy the benefits of their new home. Get it wrong and you’re left with a mere shadow of your former community.
Any good community manager worth their salt will realise that the most important feature of any online community is the community members and the relationships they have with each other. So here are seven factors every community manager should consider in order to successfully migrate a community:
1. Understand how the existing community currently operates
A community has a culture, a shared history of experiences, and a certain way of doing things. Knowing what works and what doesn’t will help you to avoid replicating pitfalls in the new community.
2. Be transparent
The migration date shouldn’t be a surprise to community members. Tell them what is happening well in advance. It doesn’t have to be too granular in detail but community members need to understand why the migration is taking place.
3. Explain the benefits of new community
Community members will always ask “What’s in it for me?”. Ideally, you should highlight the benefits of the existing community, which will be transferred over in addition to the ones associated with the new community.
4. Explain the potential risks
There will be bumps in the road. For example, community members may loose some personal data in the transition. Be clear as to what the risks are and stipulate which measures you have in place to help mitigate those risks.
5. Keep open lines of communication
The community manager needs to be vigilant and proactive when communicating with members. Providing useful and timely answers to their questions will go a long way to getting buy-in from community members who still need to be convinced.
6. Establish a clear timeline for actions
Community members need to be aware of the timeline for the migration process. They will appreciate regular reminders of the deadlines for performing certain actions e.g. “Make sure you’ve made a note of your login details and backed up your pictures by XX date”.
7. Involve your community champions
Your community champions love to be trusted to perform important tasks for the community. For example, it might be to beta test the functionality of the new community or to act as go-betweens for general community members. Getting your community champions on board early on will help the migration process to run much more smoothly.