Setting up your conservation (sub)community. Where to start?

It's Monday morning, you are tasked with setting up an engaged community of conservation professionals. You feel you should be doing 100 different things in parallel, but where do you actually start?
Setting up your conservation (sub)community. Where to start?
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Bit strange perhaps to publish insights in our conservation community about managing conservation communities, you may think. More and more networks and communities are joining our amazing global WildHub community by using our private or even secret room option, and whilst coaching them 1:1 through this process is rewarding to me, I would like adopt the same principle of our wider WildHub community: 

Many to many communications, like we do in our WildHub Community, is more impactful than 1:1 emails! 

Also, as more online conservation communities are being designed, I am often asked: what has been key to the success of  the thriving WildHub community? It's been an amazing journey with you all and one that is impossible to fit in a single post, so let's start small and easy with some top recommendations below.

Recommendation 1: One suggestion is to come up with one or two actions that you would like your members to take as soon as they can access your community. This provides the opportunity to create immediate value of your community to members.  For example, is a current pain point of your members that they lack the opportunity to connect to other professionals and expand their network? Some communities, like WildHub, ask their members to introduce themselves so that they can get to know each other, network and together create a safe space to interact. 

Valuable relationships were built during our WildHub Socials last week!

Recommendation 2:  Another suggestion is for all who are involved in setting up your community to take those two actions you ask your members to do in your welcome messages. Building on the example under recommendation 1, this translates to publishing an introduction each in the days after you launch. This way you lead by example, hopefully others will follow suit by publishing their introductions after this;

Recommendation 3: Make sure you schedule relevant content to be published in your community in the weeks following launch (perhaps with 3-4 days in between posts). This will help remind members that the space is there for them to use and encourages them to follow your lead; 

Recommendation 4: When your members take those actions you asked them to do, take a moment to celebrate and show appreciation, however small or large this action is. For example, if a member publishes an introduction, or other content that is of value to the group, it is key to respond asap by adding a comment. This comment could be a simply 'thank you for sharing' below their post to show your appreciation for their time and effort. I often include a question in my comment, because our WildHub members simply have fascinating backgrounds, and also it may trigger further engagement :)

I will stop there, but, if this post has been useful to you, please let me know in the comment section below and I will consider writing a follow up post with some more lessons learned and recommendations based on my (almost!) 4 years with WildHub :) 

In essence:

My no. 1 advice: Facilitating regular interactions (e.g. content, responses, opening discussion questions) is essential to creating value for your members and this encourages them return to your community. The more you put into your community, in terms of nurturing the relationships with your members, the more results and impact you will see.

Any questions/comments/experiences you would like to share and/or advice, please share them with us in the comment section below! 

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Go to the profile of Grace Alawa
8 months ago

Thank you Thirza, this post is helpful to me. Managing different groups virtually, I am able to learn how to engage with them better. 

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
8 months ago

Great to hear this post is helpful to you Grace - I appreciate your feedback!

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
8 months ago

To those who are in charge of connecting conservation communities, this post may be of interest to you/your colleagues and I look forward to learning from your expertise & experiences as well, feel free to add them below:  @Shelley Bolderson , @Chris Sandbrook  @Elena Cunningham , @Jo Setchell , @Tatyana Humle , @Steve Unwin, @Mark O'Connell , @Rachel White @Zoe Melvin   @Lenke Balint @Aiita Joshua Apamaku , @Yen Parico , @Fátima D. Gigante @Tamara Kovačič , @Kate Stephenson , @Lisa Wheeler , @Lydia Johnson @Annabel Falcon @Bob Smith , @Magdalena Svensson , @SUSAN CHEYNE , @Nina Paige Hadley 

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
8 months ago

Based on our previous correspondence, this may also be of interest to you @Emily Caruso and your colleagues Nessie and Simran: I invited them to WildHub so they can chime in here too if they would like. 

Go to the profile of Elena Cunningham
8 months ago

Thanks very much Thirza - super helpful!

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
8 months ago

You're most welcome Elena and good to read this post is useful to you and the team.

Go to the profile of John Atibs
8 months ago

Thanks Thirza,  it's absolutely useful and helps with setting up our sub-community, "Africa Action Group on Ecosystems Restoration", we discussed during last week's meeting. 

Your guidance is very much appreciated. 

J

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
8 months ago

Hi John, Wonderful to read that discussing this topic is helpful to you with setting up the sub-community "Africa Action Group on Ecosystems Restoration"; I look forward to learning about the next steps and feel free to email me if you feel this action group could benefit from having its own (private) room on WildHub. 

I aim to publish more regular contributions on this topic in our "community management" room; if you click the "Watch" button, you will be notified of new content when it's published in this room. 

Go to the profile of John Atibs
8 months ago

Hi Thirza, 

Thanks once again. I'll definitely update you on progress. 

Best wishes 

J.