5 Tips for Staying Sane During Your Online Community System Migration

Community Strategy // As you manage your online community migration, rely on these tips to guide you. Just remember: moving your community to get it right is totally worth it.

Elizabeth Bell
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Most of us hate moving. It means hassle, stress, PACKING, money, and time, but it’s one of those things you just have to do sometimes. And in the end, it’s usually worth it for a bigger space, a better yard, a faster commute, and more bathrooms.

It’s the same way when you’re planning a system migration, especially when it’s a software platform you’ve invested a lot into, like your online community.

Just remember that moving your online community to get it right is totally worth it. According to Aberdeen Research, firms with online communities:

  • Enjoy 5.4 times greater annual increase in customer satisfaction rates.
  • Achieve 41% greater average customer profit margin
  • Are 2 times more likely to have a formal strategy to encourage loyal customers to become brand advocates
  • Improve (decrease) support costs by 32.9% year-over-year
  • Grow customer retention rates by 15% year-over-year

Since migrating your online community to a new community platform vendor is a big commitment, I’m sure you’ve carefully considered the change. As you project manage the migration, rely on these tips to guide you (and preserve your sanity) as you progress.

(If you’re moving your community from a social media group to a community platform, we have specific tips for you here.)

Use These 5 Tips to Project Manage Your Online Community Migration with Ease

Unfortunately, for everyone reading who hates cheesy analogies, I’m going to continue the moving theme to help clarify each of these tips. But trust me, it makes total sense.

1. Make your plan and stick with it.

Before you migrate, here’s a couple key factors to keep in mind:

  • Set KPIs for your migration. These Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should help you measure the before-and-after of your migration. They could cover things like number of unique logins, discussion posts, or resource downloads.
  • Make your packing list. Ask each department using the community to compile a wish list of must-haves and nice-to-haves for features and functionality, mapped back to goals and use cases. You’ll also want each department to outline the tech tools they’ll need to integrate with the community.

Download the Community Roundtable's State of Community Management Report

2. Label your boxes.

I’m queen of forgetting to label my moving boxes, resulting in chaos when I arrive at the final destination. To avoid a scenario like this with your system migration, don’t forget to outline which content you want migrated, like discussion threads, webinars, etc. Your new online community vendor will need to know this. Follow the same process and create a wish list with must-haves and nice-to-haves in terms of content, by department.

3. Purge the past, prioritize the future.

Just like when moving homes, don’t be afraid to purge. Know the difference between an evergreen resource that users still download, versus a webinar invitation from three years ago. Remember that the more content you bring over, the bigger lift your migration will be, so try to prioritize based on your goals. Don’t bring your childhood drawings from all those years ago (unless they spark joy, of course). Paging Marie Kondo!

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Some things matter when you move – like the movers losing your new big screen TV. But other things don’t – like a chip on your dresser. Keep in mind which functionality is crucial to achieving your goals (like accomplishing your use case(s) for the community), and don’t sweat the rest. For example, one feature might not work exactly as it used to on your old platform, but no two platforms are exactly alike.

No two platforms are exactly alike, so don’t put too much pressure on duplicating look, feel, and functionality with your new vendor.

5. Work in advance.

Most people feel frantic to unpack and get settled once their belongings arrive to their new home. With a little pre-planning (“This couch would look amazing in this room!”), you can save yourself some stress. The same is true for your new community. Before your members arrive, be sure to:

  • Create an updated FAQ. If you didn’t have a community technical FAQ before, now’s your chance to create one. If you did, update it based on the new platform. You’ll probably need to work closely with your vendor on this, or they may have something pre-written you can adapt.
  • Create email templates. Once you launch, you’ll be facing a lot of questions, so help your future self out by creating content in advance. Put together some email templates and gather links that you can use to answer questions or proactively communicate with staff and users.

Just Remember: Getting Your Online Community Right is Worth It

Managing an online community migration isn’t easy, but with careful planning, the project can become both a huge value-add for your company and line-item to add to your resume. And your successful online community can help you transform the way your company approaches the customer experience. I mean, did you see those Aberdeen stats at the beginning? Don’t let the prospect of the hassle of moving dissuade you from a great next step for your company if it’s the right choice.

Elizabeth Bell

Content Marketing Manager

Elizabeth Bell is the Content Marketing Manager at Higher Logic. She’s passionate about communities, tech, and communicating about both effectively. When she’s not writing, you’ll probably find her cooking, reading, gardening, or playing volleyball.

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