Many pole dancers dream of quitting their “day job” and working in the pole industry…
Creating a virtual community is a great way to support your clients and grow your pole-related business. There are countless tools and resources out there to help you choose the right platforms and create content, so we’re going to explore who you need to be as you build your online safe space.
As your network evolves, so will you. You’re going to play three key roles as you create and grow your community: Innovator, Moderator, and finally, Leader. At each stage you’ll need a unique set of skills and a different focal point, so let’s explore each in turn!
Innovator—Just starting out
You’ve been inspired to create your pole-related community. You may have spotted a problem that you are uniquely positioned to solve (e.g. you may be the best provider of custom poles, or you are the ultimate hype human for pole dancers on an online program), or you are exploring possible options to help you grow your pole-based business. Regardless, you need to work out what your community is all about by asking the following questions:
- What’s the purpose of your community?
- Who is your community for?
- Who would make a great founding member?
- Why would someone want to join your community?
- How and where are you going to spread the word?
Once you know the basics about your online space, it’s time to create it!
Where to host your pole-related community
Where do you think your founding and future members would like to hang out? Where you host your community needs to make sense for you and them, and options include platforms such as:
- Mighty Networks: A paid website specifically for hosting your online community.
- Pole Disco: A new platform where you can create free, pole specific communities.
- Facebook or Discord: Pre-existing social networks where you’ll catch future members scrolling by!
Of course, there are plenty more options out there and there’s no wrong answer as long as the platform you choose works for you.
Inviting Key Members
Now you’ve got a purpose and a platform, it’s time to get this show on the road. As the innovator behind your online community you are going to be the main driving force behind new memberships. By inviting your founding members in directly, you’ll boost their connection to the group and populate the group with friendly faces who will support you.
Once you’ve reached out to your favorite pole people individually, it’s time to SHOUT about your community. Use your existing social media channels, email lists, and contacts to share the word.
Nurturing Your Members
There’s got to be something in it for your new members. Provide conversation pieces, resources, and activities to keep your companions engaged. Encourage members to create their own posts and invite their friends.
Gradually, your community will become less about your posts and prompts, and more about your members (wahoo!) – that’s when it’s time to retire your innovator hat, and become a moderator!
Eventually, your community will grow primarily from your marketing efforts and your members directly inviting their contacts. You’re no longer directly reaching out to people, but instead allowing them to come in on their own. This is a great feeling, so make sure you take some time to enjoy seeing those numbers roll up!
At this stage engagement will increase and become more self-sustaining. You will still need to provide input to steer conversations back on track—if you’re talking about pole that shouldn’t be too tricky!
While all of this new growth is great, it means you will have a bigger mixing pot of people and a bigger potential for clashes. That’s why your new job is focused on maintaining a safe space for everyone. The main ways you’ll do this are:
Refining Rules and Guidelines
If you have troubles with self-promotion, discriminatory language, or any other inappropriate conduct, your guidelines give you a clear reference point for removing posts or banning individuals. By sign posting your rules you remind other members what you stand for, and you help to protect those who may have been in harm’s way.
Not the most exciting, but seriously important!
Moderating Member Disputes
Hopefully this won’t take up too much of your time, but sometimes members of large communities clash. If someone breaks your rules, you can act to protect everyone else… and if it’s a clash of personalities you can work to reduce flames and bring everyone back on track to talk about your community’s pole related obsession.
Improving Member Experience
You’re going to get some feedback along the way, and this is the perfect time to act and improve your online community so it better serves your members. As a moderator you are still active in your community and can ask for direct feedback when it’s appropriate. You don’t need to act on everything that’s suggested, but where you can, updating your tech, resources, or rules can help make being in your virtual network more rewarding.
A more rewarding space means more recommendations and more members. Plenty of opportunity for some positive feedback loops!
Checking in with Your Purpose
It’s easy to get carried away, so take time every now and then to see how you are aligned with your original purpose. You may find your purpose evolves too—just make sure you are clear about what you need from your ever growing band of pole enthusiasts!
Before you know it, there will be members of your community who step up and take on additional responsibilities. That is when you move on to your final role.
Leader—Well, this escalated quickly!
You have a band of engaged members who have taken on duties from moderation, to promotion, to leading discussions and events on key topics. This means new initiatives can form outside your area of expertise, and you move from moderating posts to leading new moderators.
At this stage, the way you lead will be determined by the specific needs of your community, but you will likely need to take on the following responsibilities:
Managing Scope Creep
It’s easy to get excited about something new , so as the leader it’s your job to keep an eye on the compass. If you find yourself or your moderators drifting then it’s time to check in and decide if this is a path you want to take, or if you’re better pruning some of the new offshoots to stay on track.
Finding and Training New Moderators
Once you need moderators, you may find you end up with gaps. It’ll be your responsibility to find and train people to take on new roles in the community. These people will be extensions of the existing team, and their success is your success!
Improving Member Experience Even More!
Yep, this is your life now. What is your pole-related virtual community without your members?
As your community expands, you’ll need to update processes, change platforms, or even add paid tiers to your membership. All of this is here to make your online world the best it can be for your members—they will reward you in recommendations and engagement for your efforts!
What are you waiting for?
If you’ve been waiting to start a pole-related community of your own, it’s time to put on your innovator hat and get to work!
And if you’d like to join a community of other pole professionals, well, you are in the right place. For more information on IPIA membership click here!