I too was once tasked with taping together a community home for our members - I called it the empire built on toothpicks and marshmallows. If you have slowly added new community tools to your home, by now it might look and feel something like this.
While there might be many internal signs (headaches, lack of organization, and general confusion) that you are ready for one centralized community platform, I'm going to focus on the signs that your community is sending you that they are ready for one too.
Sign #1: You've outgrown the chatter channels
Community is more than just chatter and conversation. Whether your community is hosted in a FB group, Slack, forum, or another conversation-centric platform, as your community grows, their desire for diversified experiences will expand as well. You'll know this sign if your community is asking for:
a way to match 1:1 with members
a better way to save helpful conversation threads
a better way to host events
Sign #2: You struggle to organize content
Communities usually start by hosting events or hosting conversation. As your community grows, both of these categories begin to create long-standing content. If you don’t host your community in a centralized platform, knowing how and where to go to find that content is a primary pain point. You'll know this sign if you yourself wonder where the best place is to keep content for your community. If you are confused, you can bet that they are too.
Sign #3 Your members want to host events
If your community is more conversation-centric, it’s likely that as your community grows, members will request events to continue the conversation. If you're not in a centralized platform, you’ll likely hodge podge together tools like lu.ma to host your events, but it’s likely a clunky experience for your members to find the events that are right for them and a confusing experience to RSVP and get follow ups.
Sign #4 You need a customized member directory
It sounds so simple, but most communities hosted off of centralized community platforms are at a major disadvantage when they lack an up-to-date member directory that shows details specific to that member’s involvement and interest in the community. A simple member directory (included in almost every community platform I tout) is insultingly simple, but profoundly helpful in allowing members to form connections with each other.
Sign #5 Your community has a wide range of programs to offer
Think about the place you host your community online like a coffee shop. Decentralized communities are like selling coffee out of a kiosk in a subway station. There’s one thing: get your coffee and move along. Attend the event and leave. Ask your question, get your answer, and leave. These spaces lack the capacity to foster an ecosystem of experiences and thereby struggle to create connections between members. If your community is thriving, your members are likely asking for additional programs, but you are hesitant to launch them because of the logistical complications. You might hear yourself say "if we can't do it well, then we should hold off."
Your ill-defined community home is holding you back from being able to offer greater value to your members. Migration is never easy, but it is worth it in the long run.
If you resonate with these signs, then I encourage you to consider carefully which centralized community platform is a good fit for your community. We hope our in-depth platform comparison article helps!