Tuesday, July 17, 2007
How to build a community
I love message boards. To be very specific, I love one message board. It's a private board built around the appreciation of EDM (Electronic Dance Music). That board has about 300 members, a lot of information, some drama, entertaining voices and just a great way to find out what's going on in the heads of 300, mostly, strangers.
There are many other boards out there that talk about EDM but they have no traffic, a lot of spam and nothing worth coming back for. Why is that?
They didn't follow the basic rules on how to build a community:
Create a community about a passion
It can be the iPhone, a car you love, music. Only if you tap into the passion of many will you be successful.
Invite the right people. Get rid off the wrong ones.
Easy to define the wrong people: Spammers, shills for brands, stalkers.
Hard to define the right people: You want to have a good mix of average Joes, freaks, weirdos, drama queens, super experts. Too many drama queens might result in a telenovela, too many average Joes in a borefest. You have to calibrate the right mix.
Ask community evangelists to support you
Communities are build by passionate people. Their first thing in the morning should be the check of overnight posts. Every few minutes they should be on the board, trying to feel the pulse. A community is a living thing. It needs a fire and police department, a hospital, a psychiatrist, pastor, city hall, etc. And all that in one person: your community evangelist
You know the saying: Opinions are like a**holes, everybody has one. But not everybody has a point of view. Clear, distinct point of views will start a discussion. A conversation. I'm not talking about stunts that we are familiar with from talk radio: "Bush should go to jail for treason. Call 1-888-I FELL FOR THAT DUMB STUNT." I'm talking about real opinions. Personal experiences. Detailed observations. The most benign observations spark often a heated debate.
That's the basic rule of all communities. Be real. Share your feelings. Or keep them to yourself. And log out.