The Amateur Approach To Building Online Communities

April 2, 2011Comments Off on The Amateur Approach To Building Online Communities

Amateurs succeed where professionals don't when it comes to developing a community. 

Brands usually build the website, find lots of people to sign up, publish content, provide a forum and see how it grows. They have ideas for growth but not for sustained engagement.

If you follow this approach, you will get a failed online community. Like Dove's community or the BMW XPlor community. Pretty websites, but dead as communities. 

Amateurs have natural advantages. The founder(s) usually begin with a good number of contacts in the sector, they're fully committed to the project, they know what sort of discussions to start, what content to write and have a good number of existing friends who share their interest. They know the community they're trying to start will work – because it's the sort of community they want to participate in.

Most importantly, they don't have any ulterior motive other than to create a fun community for members. Members never feel manipulated.

Brands need to adopt the amateur approach. Forget the explosive growth and persuasive messages. Start small. Have real employees making real friends amongst your audience before you begin – at least 50. Start discussions you know your audience will be interested in (often discussions about them) and ask them to participate.

Use a simple forum package and build your community around that. Write content about what members are doing. Target your growth on select audiences at a time. Ensure most discussions get a reply. 

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