Why Amateurs Build Better Online Communities Than Businesses

November 23, 2009 Comments Off

There are few successful online communities founded by businesses. Amateurs usually do it better.

  • Contacts. Amateurs are typically passionate fans with lots of friends they can tell about their new online community. This helps a lot. They have trust and respect from the people they want to join.
  • Knowledge. They know what the big issues are, who the most influential people are, the personality of the people and what the audience intends to talk about.
  • Passion. They’re passionate about the subject, they work on the online community during off-work hours (the times when people can visit and participate). They enjoy doing this. 
  • No Objectives/Time Frame. Amateurs aren’t concerned with objectives, ROI or time frames. They’re not burdened with anything other than creating an awesome community for the community. No extractions are necessary.
  • No Budget. Amateurs aren’t burdened (yes, burdened) with a budget. They’re not forced to waste a five-figure sum and countless months on a bespoke community site reflect an organization’s brand image.
  • Technology Luddites. They pick a simple technology they know how to use. By coincidence, this is also a simple technology their audience knows how to use.
  • No plan for growth. Amateurs don’t try to grow big. They focus on making the community fun rather than huge. If they don’t want more members, they don’t  try to get any more members.
  • They stick around for longer. Amateurs don’t abandon the community when they find a new job, or get given a promotion, or their work load picks up. They make the time every day (or evening) for the community.

You’re competing against amateurs. If you can’t run a better online community than the amateurs, members will leave for one run by one. The very online communities that most businesses want are the communities they would have if they acted less like a business and more like a passionate amateur.

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