Online Membership Community Features

Essential Features for Online Membership Communities



Looking to start or grow an online membership community?  Then you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve developed a variety of online communities here at member(dev).  From private coaching groups to full blown passionate communities.  We’ve helped a variety of businesses and organizations plan, launch and grow their online communities.

Here’s a quick overview on the essential components to consider for your online membership community.

  1. Content Library
  2. Member Directory
  3. Event Calendar
  4. Groups & Activity Feeds
  5. Forums
  6. Courses
  7. Affiliate Program
  8. Private Podcast

Content Library

One of the most overlooked and critical features of an online membership community is a content library.  There is a saying in the business world:

“People come for the content, they stay for the community.”

This is why having a well designed content library is key for your initial member onboarding.  Every community has some type of content to share whether it’s Zoom call replays or advanced training material.  Giving your members easy access to community related content will add immediate value early on.

Key features and considerations:

  • Simple and clear navigation
  • Search and advanced filtering
  • Content favoriting (bookmarking)

Member Directory

Most online membership communities will benefit from having a Member Directory.  This allows members and admins to find each other, network and communicate more effectively.  Giving your members a private directory adds to the “exclusivity” factor of the community your building.

Key features and considerations:

  • Custom member profiles
  • Directory search and filtering
  • Private member-to-member messaging

Event Calendar

Another great component for your community is a member-only event calendar.  This can be used to display things like community events, workshops, group coaching calls, and much more.  Having a private calendar will be a huge value add for people looking to engage and interact in the community.

Key features and considerations:

  • Add to calendar sync with Google/Outlook/iCal
  • RSVP system for members
  • Event resources and media

Groups & Activity Feeds

Member groups and activity feeds are another valuable asset for online membership communities.  This offers your members clear structure and organization for community interests and daily interaction.  It also allows you to grow from “network effects” as your community starts to drive itself through organic member engagement.

Key features and considerations:

  • Commenting and notifications
  • File / media sharing
  • Access settings for public vs private groups

Forums

Forums are the last key component to consider for your community.  Not every online community will need these, but in general, forums are a great way to house evergreen topics and discussion threads.  These are different from dynamic activity feeds in the sense that they last or stay prioritized for important discussions.

Key features and considerations:

  • Forum subscription / notification system
  • Organized topic threads
  • Moderation settings for admins and curators

Bonus Features

Here are some additional features that will add value and depth to your community as you grow.

Courses

Online courses are a great way to add curriculum based content to your community experience.  These can be used for things like certifications, member learning paths, and eventual gamification strategies.  Courses also provide you with new revenue opportunities and customer lifetime value growth.

Key features and considerations:

  • Course progress tracking
  • Downloads and resources
  • Quizzes and smart forms

Affiliate Program

Offering an affiliate or ambassador program is a great way to reward your member referrals and incentivize organic marketing.  Affiliate programs can be a huge asset for member led communities that promote a mission-driven culture.  They can also serve as a primary growth channel for your business or organization.

Key features and considerations:

  • Easy registration and approval process
  • Affiliate dashboard and reporting
  • Referral email notifications

Private Podcast

A new and upcoming component to consider is a private podcast.  Podcasts have exploded in the last decade and are quickly becoming a primary medium for how people consume information.  Offering a member-only podcast is a great way to diversify your content offerings.

Key features and considerations:

  • Easy subscription / download access
  • Protected podcast feed / URL
  • Multi-channel distribution

Need some guidance / help?

Get in touch!  We offer a customized service to help you design, build and launch your private online membership community.  This will give you the confidence, clarity and control to launch and grow your online community!

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Ali Jafarian

Ali is the founder of MemberDev. He's a serial entrepreneur and software engineer with over 15 years of experience building technology. Ali's spent the last decade focusing on membership websites and the subscription business model. He enjoys helping small businesses with early stage development and growth.

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