Whether your fans hang out in a Facebook group, fan forum, chat room, or are scattered across several corners of the internet, you will likely encounter a time when you need to introduce them to a new platform.
This is a really exciting time of change, and putting a thoughtful plan behind your rollout will ensure a smooth transition for both you and your fans. The last thing you want is for your audience to successfully offboard from an old platform and fail to make it to the new one.
If you’re currently going through the process of moving your audience or want to prepare yourself for the likely moment when you will need to, read on.
Get fans excited
Before you announce your new plans, make sure your fans have a clear understanding of how the new platform will benefit them. Clearly explain why the platform you’re transitioning from isn’t fully serving the community and how the new location will be better.
If the new space is a complementary platform to another that you don’t plan on getting rid of, clearly communicate what the differentiating factor is. Why would your fans spend their time on it?
Consider writing a blog post or making a video announcement. Give people a place to enter their emails for updates about the move. P.S. This is a great opportunity to build your email list and form an even closer connection to your audience!
Start a countdown clock and continue to build excitement about the new platform as you get closer to the move. Connect with a few news outlets or online periodicals who might be willing to share a press release about your move to a new platform.
Create an onboarding guide that’s easy to follow
New technologies can be exciting at first, but learning a new system can be really difficult for your fans, especially if they have a limited amount of time in the day to spend on you or aren’t very technically savvy.
First, write out every single step your community will need to take to transition onto the new platform. Consider using a site like Snagit to create easy-to-follow screencasts of the onboarding process. Or, if you’re an Apple user, you can also record your screen using QuickTime.
Next, cut out any extraneous steps that might make the onboarding process feel overwhelming to your fans. You do not want to create a barrier of entry to migrate onto the new platform; you want to make it as simple as possible for them to understand the process of joining without any added steps that aren’t completely necessary.
Do a soft launch
A gradual rollout is one of the best ways to onboard your community, as it will allow you to find and fix any issues that might arise from the migration before too many people get caught in them.
Start by asking a few friends or colleagues to join the community and provide feedback about their experience getting started. Ideally, this group should be made up of people who represent users along all points of the tech-savvy spectrum.
Then, once you get some feedback from that group, remove any blockers that made signing up more challenging than it needed to be. Next, invite another group to join, and repeat.
Offer incentives to early adopters
Nobody wants to be the first one to a party. Similarly, you’ll likely come to find that getting the first few fans through the door will often be the most difficult part of introducing them to a new platform.
The best way to combat your community’s fear of joining too soon is by offering them special perks for being the first to sign up. This might take the form of a discount to the new platform, an exclusive piece of content, or even just a cool digital badge for them to display their loyalty as one of your first members.
Getting your early adopters excited about the new platform is only half of the benefit of having a group of dedicated community members with you from the beginning. Early adopters also have a natural knack for evangelising the community they belong to, so make sure you nurture your relationships with your early joiners and empower them to help spread the word about your community.
Want to learn how successful your transition onto the new platform was? Make sure to take note of how many fans there are in your community before and after the move. An easy way to do this is by using a free service like Google Analytics to study the behaviour of users based on different time periods.
If the new platform requires payment, you’ll also want to consider keeping track of how much your fans are spending and whether or not existing members are increasing or decreasing their payment amount to you.
If you find that fans are churning off of the platform, make sure to explore what might be causing it. Is there a barrier to entry that is causing friction? Is the platform less user-friendly than the previous one?
Remind your fans
Every change you make to your process or new piece of work is an opportunity to promote yourself. Moving to a new platform is no different. In fact, some of your fans might not have joined your previous platform simply because they didn’t find value in joining.
Give potential fans an opportunity to be a part of your community by promoting the new platform not just to those already subscribed to your work, but to all of your social networks. Make sure to encourage fans to spread the word by sharing with their networks as well.
More tips for a successful move:
Make sure the new platform is fully made before you close the old one. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is moving your audience onto a new platform too soon. Transitioning your community is not an overnight process, so make sure to be patient and allow your fans to familiarise themselves with the new spot before you cut ties with the old one.
Use the transition as an opportunity to get more fans. Having a new place for your fans to hang out in is a great motivator for existing fans to get excited about joining your new community. Make sure to link the new platform everywhere you hang out online (Twitter/Youtube/Facebook/Instagram/etc.)
Don’t forget about SEO. If someone searches for you online, it would probably not be ideal for them to find your old platform instead of your new one.
Have questions about how to make the most out of a transition onto a new platform? Feel free to ask in the comments!