Building A Community Around A Content Site
An audience responds and interacts with you – not each other.
A community builds relationships around a strong common interest.
Most media platforms have an audience, not a community.
There are some great exceptions. HuffingtonPost, The Guardian, many blogs, and even radio shows have a intelligent (and less intelligent) debates.
Classic magazines like Amiga Power spent as much time writing about games as they did about self-indulgent community material – but it worked. My former employers, PCGamer, did the same. It built a community. It encouraged interaction between readers.
It's readers felt they were part of something. They frequently referred to readers, by name, in articles. That's powerful.
If you're trying to build a community around a media/content entity, you need to change the entity to faciliate a community. That means turning some pages to member columns, hosting live events/activites (online or offline). Featuring members in different ways. Summarizing the best member contributions. Setting goals/actions for the audience to undertake and reporrting on the progress.
For simplicity, focus on three things:
1) Featuring members. Interviews, mentions in articles, reviews/reports on member milestones, member contributions/comments.
2) Creating opportunities for members to interact with each other. Live events and activities. Ongoing debates. Letters to each other (not just the magazine) etc…
3) Establish common goals/purpose and culture. Have a personality. Have inside jokes that only some members get. Set common activities/challenges/goals for the audience.