The Power of Personalization Helps the Best Communities Scale

How do the best communities do it? How do they continue to grow and thrive even as their member numbers soar? The secret is a personalized experience that lives at the center of the larger community.

The Power of Personalization Helps the Best Communities Scale

How do the best communities do it? How do they continue to grow and thrive even as their member numbers soar?

The secret is a personalized experience that lives at the center of the larger community.

Think of it like jumping on the latest fashion trend for shoes. The personalized experience is that you get a pair that fit you. Bonus if you can add a bit of custom flair. But you're still wearing the same brand.

The best communities allow you to do just that and in this article I'm going to show you how you can easily add some of these critical elements to your community.

The Problem with One-Size-Fits-All Communities

There's a prevailing "one-size-fits-all" approach for online communities.

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Cookie cutters all the way down.

This is NOT the way.

In this model, the person is nothing more than a widget. They plug in and zone out.

A lack of personalization leads to disengagement. Members struggle to find their place or see their unique value within the group.

The consequence? A community that fails to retain its members or foster deep, meaningful connections.

Let's Get Personal

This might seem daunting at first, but really it's not. Just imagine the difference between two events. In one, you enter a room where there's a sign at the door saying hello and welcome to this conference.

At the other event, there's someone there greeting you, saying hi and connecting you with another person.

A subtle difference, perhaps a few more dollars spent on that moment, but an exponentially better outcome in the second version.

Here's how you can add that personal touch to your community.

Nurturing Individual Journeys

The beauty of a well-crafted community lies in its ability to nurture individual journeys.

By recognizing and celebrating each member's unique starting point and desired end state, community leaders can create a rich mosaic of experiences and perspectives.

Personalization in this context means offering tailored opportunities for learning, development, and expression.

Action Steps:

  1. Assess Individual Goals: Start by understanding the unique aspirations and interests of each member.
    You can do this at onboarding or event sign up.
  2. Create Custom Pathways: Design a roadmap that links different activities, workshops, and discussions in such a way that it caters to that person.
    A community sommelier, if you will.
  3. Offer Flexible Engagement: Allow members to choose their level of involvement, ensuring they can navigate their own journey within the community.
    A mix of group and solo milestones works best here.

Encouraging Meaningful Interactions

At its core, personalization fosters deeper connections not just between the individual and the community, but between members as well.

Encouraging members to share their unique stories and skills helps communities to become hubs of mutual learning and support.

In this scenario, everyone has something valuable to add.

Action Steps:

  1. Facilitate Interest Groups: Create sub-groups within the community for specific interests or skills, allowing members to find their tribe.
    This could be geographical, age-related, experience-based, etc.
  2. Host Share and Learn Sessions: Regularly organize events where members can showcase their expertise or learn from others.
    Ideally have members even lead these events!
  3. Encourage Mentorship: Pair newer members with more experienced ones based on shared interests or goals.
    Not easy 1:1, but you can have "group leaders" that is a higher value.

Adapting to Change

Personalization is not a one-off task – it's a mindset.

This is your reminder that not everything has to be new. Sometimes just making the same thing better is enough.

This is an opportunity to allow people to make small changes that add their personalization to the community experience, whether it's through content events, or even messaging.

Not everyone is ready to take this larger personal journey, but they are willing to add their two cents to your community. Add up all those $0.02 and you've got something!

Action Steps:

  1. Gather Regular Feedback: Use surveys and feedback sessions to understand members' evolving needs and preferences.
  2. Iterate on Offerings: Continuously update and refine programs and activities based on member feedback.
  3. Celebrate Individual Achievements: Recognize and celebrate the milestones and contributions of members to reinforce their value to the community.

The Final Word

The best communities are the ones that really get how important it is to make things feel personal for everyone. This keeps members around and ready to pitch in.

The Old Way: Come to my house for this dinner I made.
The New Way: Come to my house and bring your favorite dish and the story of why you love it.

Making it personal is the secret sauce that takes a regular hangout and turns it into this amazing place where everyone's growing and finding out new things about themselves – and each other.