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Best Practices for Building Online Communities
Best Practices for Building Online Communities

Our recommendations for building, launching, and maintaining a community

Mahalia VanDeBerghe avatar
Written by Mahalia VanDeBerghe
Updated over a week ago

There are so many possibilities when building a Webex Events Community, and we want to help you create an engaged member base that supports your goals. This article provides best practices for building, launching, and maintaining a Community. 🌟

Decorative screenshot showing the Wall feature in the Web App and the home screen of a community on the mobile app.

Define goals

Before you do anything else, it's important to define your goals for the Community. You'll use these goals to inform each step of creating and developing your Community's content.

List all business stakeholders, along with the metrics each will use to measure success. Common goals include increasing brand loyalty, producing user-generated content, gathering feedback, and reducing support costs, to name a few.

Next, consider what value your Community will provide its members and build your content to maximize that value.

Build protocols and plan community details

Once you've defined your goals, you're ready to plan:

  • Content - Decide when and what you'll share, including push notifications to community members and embedded Community widgets in your website and partner websites. We recommend having a detailed plan for at least the first month. Any more, and you'll have a harder time pivoting as you determine the community's interests. Any less, and you may feel rushed or directionless.

  • Roles - How will each Community administrator interact with members, and what protocols should they follow? Answering these questions with clear, documented guidelines for staff helps guarantee a distinct and unified voice. Train staff on using the Webex Events platform, share our moderation guide, and encourage staff to regularly attend our virtual office hours to ask our trained staff questions and get advice.

  • Touch-points and protocols - Figure out cross-department touch-points and protocols to maximize Return on Investment (ROI) and ensure that each member is heard. For example, if a community member gives product feedback, then your product management personnel may need to be notified. If a member asks about purchasing, a smooth handoff to your sales team is important.

How often and what you should communicate will vary depending on your member base. Experiment to find out what resonates!

Seed content

First impressions matter, so don't welcome members into an empty space. Seeding content that garners interest from new members at the start is critical. You can always add more content later, and we highly recommend that you do!

Screenshots of the Wall feature in the Web App and the home screen of a community on the Mobile App.

Create discussion boards with different categories and prompts to nurture conversations. Have your team comment, post, and add forum questions. No blank screens allowed. 🌈 At the same time, your team's feedback will help you make any needed adjustments before the soft launch.

💡 Keep in mind, use Privacy Settings to prevent access to your Community until you're ready.

Have a soft launch

While it's not necessary, inviting a small group to join your Community early can give you better outcomes from the start. Invite influencers in fields related to your community, brand ambassadors, or your best customers. Show them that they're valued and special by telling them that you're keeping it exclusive, and especially let them know what they'll gain from joining.

Consider this small group as your beta testers. They'll give you a good idea of what your members value in your Community, so you can refine that value as you expand. Once your soft launch concludes, be sure to thank your early members for taking part.


You're ready to scale your Community once you're confident in its value, you've learned what sparks member engagement, and several members engage regularly with the content and each other.

Screenshot of a Custom List item titled Refer a Friend.

The best promotion method likely will depend on your member base, where they get their information, and how they share it with each other. Here are some ideas to get you off to a great start:

  • Referral program - If you have a solid member base, it's safe to assume that their referrals are probably candidates for the Community, too. Encourage referrals with prizes, recognition, swag, or anything else that appeals to your member base.

  • Influencer promotion - Ask influencers to promote, especially if you included them in the soft launch. These folks are a great resource to get your Community in front of the right people. Let them know the value they'll receive from being involved and consider offering additional incentives.

Include games in your Community

The Game feature is a great way to kick off your Community, foster engagement, build and maintain momentum, and encourage fun. Here are some recommendations:

Screenshot of the successful code entry screen in the mobile app.
  • Have a new Game every month, every quarter, or whatever cadence works best for you. Make sure to have a clear end date and hide the Game feature once that Game is over. An end date helps create a sense of urgency, encouraging members to start playing. Let them know when to check back in to find out who won!

  • Use ongoing challenges to encourage members to interact with Community content. One week, one challenge code could be a word from an article you posted. The following week, send a challenge code to each member who posts what they liked best about your most recent webinar or blog. Don't forget to deactivate the challenge once it's over.

  • Have a 'Winners' feature highlighting the winner for each completed game and the prize they received (if any) — the Custom List feature is a great option. This is a great way to recognize users in your Community and encourage engagement. We also highly recommend prizes such as early access, discounts, swag, or anything that your member base would appreciate.

Embrace Community sponsorship

Screenshot of the Game feature's instructions sponsored by Slido.

There are a ton of ways that sponsors can support your community. They can sponsor a webinar, newsletter, benchmark survey or report, banner, giveaway, or the Game — you can even ask them if they'd like to provide the game prize!

Our Showcase Sponsors article offers more great ideas and inspiration for highlighting sponsors in your events and communities.

Keep it fresh

Share content like videos, podcasts, articles, product updates, and other points of interest for your member base. As you add fresh content, use the Announcements feature or email your members. Keep them informed about what's upcoming, whether that's a podcast series, standalone webinar, or events. Banners are a great way to promote these, too. 🤩

Provide exclusive opportunities and content

Provide exclusive content for community members, including job postings, training, mentoring programs, events, industry reports, discounts, or anything else that interests your members. These unique offerings add value to members and keep them engaged.

Screenshot of an Upcoming Events feature in the Mobile App.

Foster healthy networking

Encourage your community members to network and engage in meaningful ways, and they'll keep coming back. There are multiple networking options such as Shake & Connect, chat features, the Wall, and networking game challenges. With a little planning, you can even schedule informal meetups with Video Rooms or Webex hangouts, where members connect and discuss common topics of interest. Use surveys and the polling feature to crowdsource topics beforehand. Move the Wall or Game features to the top of the feature list so they're highly visible.

Pro tips! 😎

  • Get creative and embrace your community's unique personality in the colors, icons, and graphics you use. We've even seen organizers create music playlists for their Community!

  • Not sure if you need a separate Community, or simply multiple discussion boards in one Community? Consider the content and the networking value. If you have content and topics for widely different member groups, we recommend a separate Community to keep the experience tidy and relevant. If there's value in connecting content across different member types, or if content is mostly the same, use Groups to personalize experiences and show or hide content based on attendee types.

  • Not sure if you need a Community or an Event? An Event App is a better option if there's a clear end date with activities happening within a short timeframe. Events usually happen "live", whereas a Community is a year-round hub for people to connect, share, and discover. Want more guidance? Ask us for a personalized demo!

Ready to start building your Webex Events Community? Start with our article about creating an Event or Community.

Questions? Chat Us or Email

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