Guide to Community Building

This article provides tools and techniques for building your community whether you're just getting started with your CaredFor app or looking for new ways to grow your existing community. 

Contents:

  1. Building a Unique App Culture
  2. Maximize Admin Engagement in the Stream
  3. Utilize the Admin Dashboard to Post Program-Specific Content
  4. Utilize Alumni Ambassadors to Liven-up the Stream
  5. Incorporate Automated Private Messaging into Your Strategy
  6. Daily / Weekly / Monthly Cadence for App Management
  7. Get Creative-- Contests, Book Clubs, and More
  8. Fight Perfectionistic Tendencies


Let's Get Started!


1. Building a Unique App Culture

When getting started with your CaredFor App, we suggest getting together as a team to consider and draw up a unified vision for the type of culture you want to build with your app. 

Create a vision board or inspiration page compiling your answers to these questions. This will serve as your north star when considering what to post and be a resource to come back to at regular intervals to check in on if you’re delivering on the vision, or if you need to make any tweaks to how you are managing your community.

Questions to ponder:

  • What kind of vibe do you want to create?
  • What values does your organization prioritize?
  • What phrases or words are in your program vernacular?
  • What sort of life events does your community celebrate?
  • What imagery or analogies do you champion? 

Successful communities require a combination of intention and action. 

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2. Maximize Admin Engagement in the Stream

It is important that the voice of your staff is heard regularly in your app. Admins of the most successful CaredFor apps regularly post and engage with their members creating a mirror for how members should engage with the app. 

We suggest your staff proactively engage on the app at least 3x’s per week for as little as 15-20 minutes. On top of sending invites and reviewing access requests, staff should like and respond to member posts as well as post their own authentic content. When creating posts, pose a question that encourages others to chime in in the comments.

The goals of having staff engaged in the app are:

  1. To have members feel seen and heard.
  2. To be an example of how members should utilize the app-- conversing with their peers, sharing life updates, posting gratitudes.
  3. To share facility-specific content that personalizes the app to your community in a way that reminds them of the experiences they had in your program. 

Help members feel seen and heard by:

  • Responding to posts by new members sharing about ways to connect with the community. (Ex: Welcome {Name}, Have you tried any of the alumni meetings on Zoom? They are a great way to connect and give and get support from other members of the {facility name} family.)
  • Commenting on and liking member content. 

Be an example of how members should utilize the app by:

  • Creating gratitude posts.
  • Sharing authentic content to the stream. For example, maybe share a photo of one of your favorite places and what it means to you. Then, ask members to share a photo of theirs. 
  • Celebrating your own recovery milestone if you have one. 

Share facility-specific content that personalizes the app to your community:

  • Sharing about the places and pets of the facility (a beautiful sunset, visiting therapy horses, the labyrinth, duck pond)
  • Sharing about a snack or meal that may resonate with alumni, for example a specialty of the dining hall or a signature snack food that’s provided.

In addition to individual staff admins posting in the stream, it is a best practice for admins to also add to the basic content plan with more program-specific resources posted from the dashboard. More on this in the next step.

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3. Utilize the Admin Dashboard to Post Program-Specific Content

The CaredFor content plan includes a baseline of general well-being, mental-wellness, and mindfulness content that is applicable across the range of programs we serve. App administrators should add more specific content that relates to the communities they serve as well as share information and announcements specific to their facility.  

Good content for dashboard posts:

  • Introducing new hires to the team
  • Linking to blog posts, recovery content videos/podcasts/articles
  • Posting about new programs, meetings, or happenings
  • Celebrating staff work anniversaries or life happenings of members of the team.

Unlike regular posts to the stream, dashboard content can be scheduled up to a year in advance… perfect for planning and scheduling posts in bulk. 

There are 5 types of content you can create from the dashboard, each designed for conveying different types of content:

  • Promoted Posts - these are great for announcements, program changes, staff introductions, and general reminders. A push notification goes out when posted, and they can be pinned for prominence at the top of your stream. Promoted posts have the ability to be posted under your name OR the facility and you can embed a linked button which looks more polished than just pasting a URL.
  • Inspirations - the best content for this type of post are made for quotes, recovery reminders, and slogans. They can be pinned for prominence at the top of your stream. 
  • Topics (Conversation Starters) - the goal of this content type is to cultivate community by creating a starting point for guided conversation. It can also be used for contests. They can be pinned for prominence at the top of your stream. 
  • Explore Resources - this content type is meant for educating, inspiring, and sharing tools. Classify by type: article, video, podcast, or book. These posts live in the Explore Resource Library for future reference.
  • Helpful Tips are designed to educate and answer frequently asked questions. In addition to posting in the stream, they are compiled in the Helpful Tips section of the menu.

Pro tip: Resources shared from YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud and Kindle Books are embedded into the stream so your members don’t have to leave the app. 

For more tips and step-by-step instructions on creating each post type click on the linked names of each type. 

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4. Utilize Alumni Ambassadors to Liven-up the Stream

To make your app stream an engaging, lively place to be that is filled with content that brings members back again and again we suggest asking for the support of  5-8+ standout alumni. Ask them to engage on the app at least once a week to normalize member posts and help to reduce fear that new or more shy members feel when they consider posting. 

Here Are Post ideas to Share with Your Alumni Ambassadors:

  • Post daily gratitudes.
  • Share milestones.
  • Life check-ins, encourage utilizing the 30 second video recording in-app and asking others to post their own updates
  • Share your why(s) for getting sober, prompt others to share theirs.
  • Share a life update.
  • Share a favorite memory from treatment. Ask other members to share theirs.
  • Share a photo of your pet(s) and how your sobriety has affected them.
  • Record a short video sharing gratitude in the app to share in the feed.
  • What was your favorite spot at treatment? 
  • What online meetings do you attend and enjoy? 
  • Share about your favorite way to get your heart rate up.
  • Share your favorite recovery book(s). 
  • What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned in therapy?
  • I’m inspired by _______. What inspires you?
  • Sobriety date roll call -- share your date and ask everyone else to share theirs in the comments.
  • Excited to do ___ this week / weekend. What are you up to?
  • I’ve been attending ___ meeting(s). What meeting(s) have you been attending?

You’ll notice most of these prompts also include a prompt to the reader to respond and share a response-- this is a best practice for creating a stream filled with dialogues instead of monologues.

Also encourage Alumni Ambassadors to comment on posts from their peers. This will encourage others to do so as well and create a greater sense of community. 

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5. Incorporate Automated Private Messaging into Your Strategy

Automated private messages are triggered whenever a new member is added to a team, and can be set for unique intervals. You can set up multiple messages at different intervals or for your different teams. The goals of this feature include introducing the private messaging capability to reach staff, as well as to set the tone and let new members know the admin and their fellow Alumni would like to hear from them.

By crafting a warm welcome message with specific directives on how you’d like your members to utilize the app, you empower them to interact from day one. 

You may want to prompt alumni to “share life updates, daily gratitudes, recovery materials, and inspirations” or prompt families to “reach out to their peers in the stream for advice” or post about resources that have been helpful to them as they support their family member in treatment.

There’s the option to add a photo to your Automated Private Messages, which can be a nice personalized touch. This could be a photo of you, so they recall who’s reaching out to them, a photo of the facility, a graphic of your community guidelines for the app, or something else iconic to your program. 

We suggest setting up at least one Auto PM, but setting up a cadence of them can have an even greater impact. See our suggested cadence and additional best practices in this article.

Ready to get your Auto PMs set up? This article will walk you through the process. 

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6. Daily / Weekly / Monthly Cadence for App Management

Building a dynamic, supportive, and engaging community requires intentionality. Utilizing tools like checklists and recurring calendar events to block time and hold yourself accountable will create a level of consistency that is guaranteed to yield results. 

3x’s per Week up to Daily:

  • Send Invites
  • Check pending access request
  • Respond to messages
  • Comment on and like alumni posts
  • Welcome new users

Weekly:

  • Create or aggregate content to share
  • Schedule your posts for the week

Monthly:

  • Pull your engagement stats and reflect on what is working / where improvement is needed. 
  • Thank your ambassadors, communicate about what is upcoming, how they can continue supporting

Your content doesn’t have to be original or customized to be compelling, but there are many free resources for creating original content, such as Unsplash for free stock photos you can download and use in the app and Canva to easily import photos, add text, and customize graphics.

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7. Get Creative-- Contests, Book Clubs, and more Outside-of-the-Box Ideas

Don't be afraid to try things and think outside-the-box.

💡 Use a Topic post to host a contest. 

Example 1: "What does recovery look like in your life? Have you taken up a new hobby or sport? Learned a new skill? Show us what it looks like to be living your life to the fullest.

Post your favorite photos of your sober life and staff will choose the winner who will receive ____!

Contest ends ____."

Example 2: "Post a picture to win a ____! This contest is for photographs which represent topics important in recovery. The topic for this contest is PEACE. What personifies peace in your eyes? 

All alumni that submit a photo will be entered for the drawing."

💡Host a self-care challenge.

Challenge your members to post pictures relating to each day's challenge for a period of time. Activities could include:

  • Take a walk.
  • Connect with an old friend.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Try a new exercise.
  • Get a good night's sleep.
  • Organize a space where you live.

💡Create a book club.

A unique alternative to traditional meetings, start a book club! 

  • Create a survey to determine which book everyone would like to read. In the survey you can also gauge attendance interest. 
  • Then, set up a recurring virtual event for your members to join for discussion and announce the book selection in the feed using a Promoted Post to trigger a push notification for maximum visibility. 
  • Set a schedule for reading and ask members to RSVP their attendance / participation in bookclub. 

💡 Engage with humor and emojis.

Consider adding an on-topic meme to draw attention to your meeting reminder posts. 

Or use emojis to 🔆draw ☀️attention 🌸to 🌿your 👉posts❗️

Pro Tip: You can also use Markdown to add formatting that draws greater attention to your posts. 

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8. Fight Perfectionistic Tendencies 

Present in the stream will always perform better than perfectly done. Your members want to hear from you. Posting something is better than not posting anything. If in doubt keep it simple and authentic and you’ll be on your way to success!

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