[tweet_box design=”default”]Communities with a strong, shared, sense of culture will outperform those with a weak culture.[/tweet_box]
A unique culture (or identity) separates your group from others in your space. It gives the group members a reason to participate (to reinforce and sustain the identity).
If you’re creating and growing a social group, you want to instil your beliefs or personality within the group as it grows.
This means abiding by two principles.
1) Make the identity unique.
There’s nothing wrong with fun and kind. A lot of the successful communities out there today are based around being fun and kind. And that’s the problem. It’s very, hard to stand out if your community is about being fun. It’s a crowded space.
Our focus in our community has been clear, we’re serious about community.
We’re serious about identifying and resolving the problems that stop us building communities. We don’t try to be fun. We don’t do quirky things. Other groups do that much better. We care deeply about identifying challenges and taking a serious, decisive, approach to tackling them. If you want to have quirky discussions about Foo Fighters, we’ll probably send you elsewhere. If you want to tackle your community challenges, we’ll jump on it.
2) Reducing the scope of identity to scale.
In a group of 5 to 10 people, it’s easier to instil your beliefs and personality.
You can ensure everyone is following precise guidelines. You can respond to their questions, highlight situations where things can be improved, and take a hands on role in ensuring the group abides by a particular culture. You get to create the early rules that others will hopefully see when they join and follow.
But we’ve all played Chinese whispers (apparently called Telephone in the USA).
As messages are conferred from one person to the next, the interpretation begins to change. You have transmission errors, sender errors, and receiver errors. People interpret the details and emphasis differently. The more specific the details, the more errors there are likely to be. For example, being fun means different things to different members.
It’s tempting to be more specific and strict by producing more detailed rules/guidelines or clamping down on greater number of violations. This is only a mistake.
As a group grows, you need to increasingly reduce the beliefs and personality that members have to abide by. You have to focus on the very core of your message and propagate that.
A rule of thumb:
- In a group of 10 people, you can create an entire page of rules/examples of situations to follow.
- In a group of 100 people, you only get a paragraph.
- In a group of 1,000 people, you get a sentence.
- In a group of 10,000 people, you get 2 to 3 words.
Moz, for example, has reduced everything to a 6 letter acronym TAGFEE.
The key to having your beliefs and personality create a strong community culture is to begin with the first members fully understanding them. Then reduce the scope as the group grows. This lets your beliefs and personality scale without frustrating members with nonsensical rules.
The more you can reduce everything to its core elements, the easier it is for them to spread.