33+ Community Best Practices for your SaaS from Experts
Read a curated list of community best practices and tips for SaaS products with examples from community managers and SaaS Founders to grow your SaaS.
Table of Contents
- 1. PUSH < PULL when building community.
- 2. Build a give-first and value-first mindset
- 3. Play infinite games
- 4. Always be service-minded
- 5. Be a listener
- 6. People gravitate towards authenticity and empathy:
- 7. Don’t be exclusive
- 8. Don’t play hierarchical games
- 9. There's always an opportunity for community.
- 10. Focus on building in small groups
- 11. Communities are defined by who doesn't belong.
- 12. Identify a pain
- 13. Earn people’s trust
- 14. A good community is like a song
- 15. Identify frequent members
- 16. Innovate
- 17. Overcome fears
- 18. Keys to a successful event
- 19. Push out control as far as possible.
- 20. Meeting People
- 21. Purpose
- 22. Niche community
- 23. Do not prioritize your goals over your member's goals
- 24. Do not do community tour videos
- 25. Stop the We Miss You Emails.
- 26. Always Introduce Yourself
- 27. Do not send Lengthy emails
- 28. Don't leave all of your defaults on your community.
- 29. Get rid of meaningless badges and ribbons
- 30. Handle Gamification with care
- 31. Do not give extreme importance to community opinion or
- 32. Balance community and community members’ priorities
- 33. Have great Introductions for members:
We curated community best practices for your SaaS from many experts. Let’s go!
Note: SaaSwrites is a curated growth marketing hub and resource built to help SaaS founders grow their products. We sincerely thank all our experts for their constant value addition to this world.
David Spinks says
PUSH: Launch a community and then promote it to as many people as possible, hoping to convert a % into engaged members.
PULL: Build a small core of highly curated and engaged members. That core, like a center of gravity, will draw others in.
The fundamentals of community building are tied to principles of giving what you have and sharing what you know(value). Ask yourself what you can offer and wholeheartedly put it out so others can benefit from it.
Community building is an infinite game to play with long-term players. It is not a game to play to win. It is a pie that everyone can share and should be played to benefit each other. Build that level of culture that drives communities to last longer.
The best community leaders are always service-minded. They give without expecting. They root for others to win. They empathize and understand what others want. They are compassionate and are willing to go one extra mile.
Great community builders are great listeners. They patiently observe what people want and provide value accordingly. It can get noisy so it is important to signal value and contextually create content around it. Make it a habit to listen, learn and execute.
We live in a noisy world where we are surrounded by marketing BS so authenticity is really important. Empathy makes you stand out. Show support and care towards people. Make it about them and less about you.
Don't act or be exclusive. Be available for others and show care. People sense that and they try to do the same with others. This is how you create a strong community that self-sustains by itself.
Hierarchy doesn't work in communities. Everyone is equal and important whether you are building a community or being part of one. Treat everyone the same way and respect others for their uniqueness.
Even if a community for a topic already exists, you can always bring a new angle. Find that angle by building the community that you wish existed for yourself. There's only one process that truly works for finding community-market fit:
- Talk to your members
- Form a community hypothesis
- Test the hypothesis
Repeat, repeat, repeat…until it "clicks
There's a magic you can only create in small groups. As a community grows, it loses some of that magic. It's almost always better to start small when building community.
All communities exclude. The key is to exclude with intention and an awareness of bias that could cause the wrong people to be excluded. Always exclude with empathy.
The strongest communities are built around a pain or struggle that people feel shame around. Identify a pain that people are experiencing, and create a space where they're accepted because of that pain. Give them a place where they don't have to feel shame.
How to earn people's trust:
- Help them with no expectation of return
- Give them a space to vent without judgment
- Go deep, not shallow
- Make high-quality introductions
- Always be kind
- Admit your mistakes
It has a steady beat of conversations that keeps people engaged over time. And, once in a while, a huge crescendo event that gets the entire community energized.
Every community has a few members who show up more than anyone else in the community and bring a massive amount of passion and energy. They are the lifeblood of your community. Make their happiness your priority.
All communities will stagnate if they don't keep evolving. The OG members will be upset by changes and some will leave. But if you don't innovate, the community will stop growing, and begin its decline. Don't over-index on long-time members.
A community builders' greatest fear is that no one will show up. So they stop taking risks to avoid the embarrassment of silence. You have to overcome the fear of crickets. You have nothing to lose.
There are three keys to making an event successful:
1. The right people
2. The right space
3. The right content
If you nail all three, your event will become a staple that people will keep coming back to.
A community builder's job is to push out control as far as possible. If you're still controlling something, figure out how you can distribute those responsibilities to the community. David learned this from Philippe Beaudette who architected the Wikipedia community program.
Community values aren't fluffy. They're the key to scaling community. Because they teach others the formula for recreating your community's magic. All the biggest communities in the world started with a founder who spent countless hours building relationships one at a time. There's no short cut.
Building a community begins with meeting people (one at a time) and forming meaningful relationships. Always try and help people first before asking for anything in return! Helping people make meaningful connections goes a loooong way! However, always check before making connections and set the right context.
Every powerful community which got built, always started with a purpose + someone who is passionate about the cause and wanting to make an impact. So it’s very important to articulate who doesn’t belong in the community. Find the true purpose and articulate it for yourself before sharing your idea to the real stakeholders. Be very very clear on why you are doing it and what do you expect from this.
Magic only happens in small groups, by bringing in the right people. Curated communities are always better and allow people to open up.
It’s very important to get people talking. Always look for people who are genuinely interested in building the tribe. Look out for givers, be watchful of the takers, as they are always looking for something in return.
Building niche communities where there is a big community is truly possible! In fact, try and focus on going niche, as many people are more comfortable in smaller groups.
Speed thrills, but kills! It takes time to build Rome. Move step by step and always focus on adding value to the community members.
A true community is always less about you and more about its people. So ensure to get the best people to do what’s really required. Trust me, it’s good to stay behind the scenes and enjoy the magic!
Embrace what your members want instead of swimming against the current. It is their community after all. Always ask yourself: "What does our community members want?"
Don't put time into something that people may not care about. The people who will view it are already in your community. Then ask yourself - what problem are you truly trying to solve? You can come up with a better solution.
Using articles is a great way to start discussions if you make it personal and create a question that works for the community.
Do not force your members to go somewhere else and then ask them to come back to engage with open-ended questions.
It won't happen.
Why? You need to understand why they aren't coming to the community. Switch it up - instead of we miss you, frame it as the member needs the community.
1) Collect data, hold focus groups if you can.
2) Improve the value of your community
Threads are great but also can hinder engagement
It's lower quality and doesn't add value. How do you change it? Make connections between members. Find the right people and bring them together with intentionality.
Emails should only be 100 words and make sure to create value and call to action for the member when they are reading. Lengthy emails are part of days of past.
Think of it as a buffet and go pick & choose what will serve your members the best. Sometimes your members want spaghetti and a taco, not the whole buffett.
If you are going to have ribbons or badges, make sure that they make sense for your community. Badges or ribbons should earned and you are proud to have on your profile not just for noise.
It is on the chopping block. Is it worth it? Does it inspire people? Or does it make it feel like something they will never get to? Does it fit your community? Instead, spend time developing relationships with the members & your colleagues to create value.
a) Listen & respond unconditionally
b) Balance interests & communicate
c) Tell community we hear them, but can't deliver (right now/at all)
Any response can be ok, but having a shared understanding of how heavily the voice-of-community weighs into decision-making is crucial for avoiding misalignment.
Having this understanding upfront will help you set expectations with your community and avoid bad blood.
- Are community members considered 'consulted' or 'informed'?
- At what point in decisions are community members consulted, if at all?
- How important are community member opinions, especially when in conflict?
The answer should rarely be "we don't take community member opinions into account at all," but it should also rarely be "we do what community members say, no matter what."
A Community Managers' job is to understand & balance priorities when possible, communicate when not.
This usually goes off the rails if the CM believes/assumes/messages that the community's voice will be listened to, but other project stakeholders (execs, product team) disagree.
This misalignment is the start of almost every wave of negative sentiment from a community.
Having this understanding (even if you don't like the answers) is crucial for a CM to be autonomous.
When community managers have accurate info about company values, it lets them go from gatekeeper -> stakeholder, & create more nuanced relationships w/ communities.
Ramil John shares:
One of the best ways to check the health of an online community is:
Check the introductions channel or thread. If current members are not welcoming new members, that's a bad sign.
Swipe Files by @coreyhainesco is a great example:
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