I’m delighted to share this guest post by Marisa Goudy of www.OnlineEmpowermentFormula.com. Marisa & her Online Empowerment Formula partner, Corinna Rake, were guests on my Creative in Business podcast earlier this year. They really know how to set you up for online success & I love the programs they have been developing! Be sure to check out their Grow Your Business with Online Groups course.
You’ve been watching your role models and your peers expand their influence and build their businesses by teaching group programs. Thing is, there are a lot of moving parts to consider between coming up with a great curriculum and filling your class. Here are four essential elements that have to be part of any successful program.
Live calls and presentations: These live events are the glue that hold your program together. You build and energy that sustains the entire group and the shared mission when you offer an opportunity for everyone to gather together to focus on the course material at the same time.
● What details do you need to think about?
- Decide what platform works best: is audio enough or do you need a video component? (Video is important if you are discussing anything technical that would benefit from screen sharing.)
- Make sure whatever you do is recorded: though you hope that everyone can make it live, you have to accommodate participants and send along the recording no later than the next day.
- Enable live and Q & A, preferably via video or voice. While you could take questions over text only, you really improve your participants’ experience by giving them a chance to interact live.
A community space: Online community spaces are important for a number of reasons: you can communicate with participants, you can answer questions, you can track what participants are excited about and concerned about, and so students can network with each other. Remember, the best online programs offer not only great content, but the chance to meet like-minded people and gain clients – create an environment that encourages real connection.
● What details do you need to think about? Your responsibilities as moderator. Any community is only as strong as its leader, especially when just starting out. Create community guidelines regarding self-promotion and asking questions. Plan out your posts ahead of time to guide the discussion.
What platform will you use?
- We highly recommend that you use Google+ because the interface isn’t clogged with ads and distraction, you can categorize posts, and the video chat feature – Hangouts – is unparalleled when it comes to creating connection. Also, you’re seen as a pioneering leader who is guiding your tribe to the up and coming social media space.
- If your audience is less tech savvy or if you feel unready to take the leap to Google+ right now, Facebook groups can still do the job they’ve been doing for several years.
- Both of these options are preferable to hosting a forum on your own website. Though we recommend you always exercise caution when relying on third party sites, your participants will likely engage a lot more when you host the community on a social media site that’s already a destination.
Deliver content by email: If you’ve been getting by with a free email newsletter program, this is the time to switch to something more robust so you can deliver content.
● What details do you need to think about?
- “Autoresponders” will be your new best frenemy (it can get complicated!). You’ll need them for everything from the very first “thanks for registering” email to the follow up sequence that you send after the course is done and for all of the course content and announcements you will share in between.
- We recommend Aweber. Switching to a new email/autoresponder system can be a challenge. Look into whether your current service offers enhanced options. For example, MailChimp offers an upgraded paid service that allows you to set up autoresponders.
House your content in one space: It’s not enough to communicate to your participants by email. You also need to house all course content in one place so that people can access it on their own time without having to keep track of dozens of emails.● What details do you need to think about?
- You can house material on your website, but you will want to be sure that it is password protected and that you have a simple system for restoring lost passwords.
- You can use a “cloud sharing” option. Our recommendation is Google Drive.
Is this all a little overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be! There’s a class that begins on June 26 that will empower you to develop a curriculum, promote your offering, and cover all of the technical bases. I’m co-teaching this course with my Online Empowerment Formula partner, Corinna Rake, and Cathy Wilke of Freedom and Fulfillment. We’d love to have you with us for Make a Bigger Impact: Grow Your Business with Online Groups!
For details and registration, visit: http://GrowYourBizWithGroups.com/course.