Creating a Communication Plan for Marketing Your Online Community

Platform launch is about engaging your community which requires robust and strategic communications. You might find it helpful to start a Communications Plan to manage this critical time for the growth of the community. 

TIP: Craft your messages in advance so you have them ready to go. This will give you the most flexibility in case you want to speed up or lengthen the various phases of your communications.

Your Website

Plan your community presence and link as it relates to your existing website. You will want a link on the website to the platform (and vice versa.) You might want to post a message on the website encouraging people to activate their profile and engage with the community through the platform. For most organizations, that means having membership/alumni relations work with your webmaster. 

A prominent presence and promotion page is a best practice, but a direct link to the community from a top menu structure will work just as well too. The goal here is to minimize the number of clicks that your alumni need to do to get to their community.

Emails and Social Media

Follow this three-step communication plan for launching your site and engaging early adopters followed by your alumni community as a whole. 

Step 1: Early Adopter Engagement

This is a personalized email invitation series to your Affinity Group leaders and those whom you have identified as your Early Adopters/Ambassadors.  These are your champions who will manage groups, and encourage others to join and be active participants in your community.

Goal: encourage them to come in early, update their profiles, add content for any Group(s) they might lead, post jobs, create mentor posts, etc.  

Give them a date range to do this, and perhaps even hold a virtual tour/training session to get them excited (create the event in your community). This is your special group!


Hold a training webinar-virtual pizza party. If the group is small enough - send personal pizzas to arrive at their homes for the virtual training and pizza party session. Record it for reference and for those who could not join.

Create a private group just for them - this is their support group. You can post messages, hold training sessions, share links to recordings and upload materials to help them be successful with their engagement mission.

Step 2:  PreLaunch Coming Soon Emails & Social Posts

Have your launch date set - give yourself a few days after your Early Adopter end date so you can review the content and your total community presence before you launch.  

While your Early Adopters are activating their profiles and creating content, you can deploy your Coming Soon messages. This is where you’ll start to generate excitement about the benefits and value that the community will provide to all your constituents.

Think about an email series with coordinating social posts in 3 drops.  

Sample timeframe:

  • Email 1:  2-3 weeks before launch (aligning with your Early Adopter timeframe)
  • Email 2:  1 week before launch
  • Email 3: the day before launch

Step 3: Launch Series

Launch emails (3)

  1. Day of (all)
  2. Day after launch (exclude those who have registered)
  3. 1 week after launch (exclude those who have registered)

Welcome Series

  1. General welcome with overview
  2. Feature focus series - this can highlight Map & Search, Groups, Jobs, Mentorship or Events, have one email for each.
  3. Did You Know series  - focus on updating profile, creating lists, in-app messaging, notifications and mobile icon - one email for each.

TIP: Create short promo videos to showcase your community. Include them in corresponding social posts and/or your emails.  

Bonus Step: Profile Completion Series

After your community has been live for 4 weeks or so, do a profile completion check on your active members.  Then set this up as an annual or twice a year communication.

  1. Headshot completion prompt
  2. Career information prompt

Social media - have posts that coordinate with the emails and other communications prepared in advance.

Ongoing Messaging

  • Newsletters - now is the time to establish a newsletter - maybe this is monthly or quarterly.  Encourage participation from across the organization to provide content. Set up a template and a timetable for content to be provided. 
  • Plan a 3 - 6 month campaign that highlights the benefits to your members. 

Other promotional opportunities

  • Presence at events - have a computer available, take five minutes at the end of an event for people to register on mobile
  • Negotiate space in any direct mailings from other departments to promote the community
  • Coordinate with your marketing team to deploy social media posts promoting the community.
  • Encourage your constituents to share their stories and promote those.

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