The seasonality of community
5 min read

The seasonality of community

Navigating the ebbs and flows during a long hot summer.
The seasonality of community

As we transition from spring to summer, here in Brooklyn things are already feeling a little slower and lighter. The baby ducks, swans and birds have hatched, the spring flowers have given way to many shades of greenery and the sunset is happening closer and closer to bedtime.

Noticing both the subtle and big differences in the seasons has been a gift from pandemic living. It’s hard to believe I was too preoccupied to notice some of these big changes to my environment in the before times!

Communities, regardless of weather, are also very seasonal. Just as in nature, personal growth and change happens in cycles. I’ve noticed I go through phases, sometimes regardless of the time of year, when I’m more open to connection and learning. And other times when I spend much more time integrating and building. You may have noticed member participation often naturally happens in these cycles of deep engagement and then breaks.

Paying attention to those changes in yourself and in your members, will help you stay at your best and able to support members at both different times of the year and at different points in their journey.

If you are building a community with members mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re about to enter (or have already entered) a collective quiet period.

Summer tends to be a time when people are busy. Kids are off from school, vacations are planned, there are more picnics, concerts, camping trips, beach trips and other reasons for members to be happy outside. People tend to have less time for online classes, connecting with new people and joining online events.

Research also suggests that warmer weather increases happiness, and lowers our motivation, our energy and our ability to think critically. (It’s not just you!)

So for many reasons, online communities are A LOT quieter in July and August.

As community leaders, what should we do in these quieter months?

  1. Know that this is true across most communities.
    Every year I know attendance will drop in the events and communities I lead, but it doesn’t fail to have me think “oh no, is this all over!?” It’s not! Your members will return and be more ready to engage in September.
  2. Pause on the usual schedule.
    Knowing that there will be less activity in the community, you may want to scale back what you offer for July and August. You might consider hosting less events, pausing on welcoming new members, or posting less prompts.
  3. Be transparent with your members.
    Not all your members will be tanning on boats this summer. The ones who stay may be disappointed and confused if they all of a sudden find themselves the only ones at the party. Let everyone know in advance what they can expect and guide them in planning their participation in the community accordingly.
  4. Launch a summer-specific program.
    There’s no way around summer being a slower time. But you can embrace that!
    I tend to think of summer as a time for fun experimentation in community.

    Maybe there are community programs you want to try with a smaller group first before bringing it to the full community. Or you see an opportunity to go deeper with the members who are still around. If you’re intentional and keep your member journey in mind, summer can be a great time to deepen key relationships and test new things.
  5. Use this time to plan for fall!
    Unlike the summer, September and October are a very busy time for most communities. Your existing and future members will be super ready to connect and learn in community with others.

    So the slow summer days are a perfect time to plan a launch, relaunch or membership push. Or build a new operations system, a big event or new community experience. Any larger projects that are hard to do when there’s too much going on (and maybe don’t require you to be at your very sharpest 🙃) may be good to tackle.

Remember, there are different reasons your member participation may be seasonal and everything above may not apply to the unique community you’re building.

If you’re not sure where to go during these slower months, your community probably has your answer.

That’s what I realized with BACB. Since we are a community for community builders, the summer is when many members need more support as we plan for a busy fall. We are taking our own advice and launching a summer-specific program for members called Community Launch Camp to be a companion as we put the pieces together for September and October. Because I know we’ll all be busier outdoors and moving a little slower, we are incorporating the summer vibes into how it’s structured. You can learn more about how we're structuring it below.

We can build better communities if we pay attention to the way seasons may effect our members’ journeys. And, we can listen to our own community’s unique seasonality and find ways to thoughtfully meet members’ needs.

I asked about this on Twitter yesterday and got many other great responses from community builders in this thread.

How are you planning on spending summer in your community? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Join us for🏕 Community Launch Camp!

An interactive 8-week experience where you'll get support in planning a launch, relaunch, migration or an end-of-the-year membership push. All while in community with other impressive community founders.

Here’s what it includes:

Brand new live sessions throughout July and August meant to be immediately actionable as you plan your launch.

  • Planning a community launch step-by-step.
  • Refining your community offer and price.
  • Growing your membership via partnerships.
  • Crafting your community landing page.
  • How to write email copy that converts without sleazy marketing speak.
  • How to host a launch event and pitch community live.
  • Keeping things organized with a community operations system.
  • Designing a member onboarding flow.

Member-hosted events are about bringing out what you're best at by offering that to the community in a way that fills a need and feels good to you. During Launch Camp, several of our members have committed to hosting events like...

Virtual Co-working • A zoom where everyone is quietly working on their own thing with quick breaks to rest and connect.

Feedback Sessions • An event where attendees are invited to give feedback on each other's work. This could be for landing pages, email copy or any other part of launch.

Show and Tell • Community members show us how they've launched in the past, the details of an event that converted well, social media strategy or anything else.

Venting Sessions • An event where we hold space for the frustrations and fears that are coming up as launch approaches, without advice or problem-solving.

Launch camp is your introduction to a full year in the BACB community. You’ll get access to the full course with step-by-step plans you can implement to increase engagement, grow your membership, streamline your operations and more.

We understand that you too may be busy outside during these 2 months. This is not an intense, bootcamp situation that requires all your time. You’ll have the opportunity to come in and out and participate however you feel comfortable.

Sessions will vary in time to accommodate different time zones and will be recorded and annotated for those who can't make it live.

We highly recommend this live learning experience as a way to kickstart your learning and get the most out of the BACB experience.

Here’s where you can learn more about launch camp and apply to join us →🏕

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