Don’t Fight Your Fans

I know a car company that once tried to launch an online community. The problem was their audience already had their own communities. So they tried to sue their rival communities off the web.

Suing your own fans, your best fans even, is clearly dumb. A far better approach is to support the ecosystem around you.

Have a place in your community (or on your website) where you list the top fan communities, let people with a big social media following apply to be listed as a verified top influencer in your community, sponsor relevant events, give members who host their own event a small budget to cover basic expenses.

Show up and participate (ethically) in other communities too. Host prizes for members who share links to their best advice and let anyone from any community vote on it. Invite the top members to meet your team and get insider access.

You don’t need to own and host the community to get most of the benefits from the community. You can still deflect support tickets, increase customer satisfaction, spread information, and get great insights.

And even if you can’t, doesn’t it just make sense to support the ecosystem growing up around you instead of fighting it? Once you have a page listing the top communities to join, members to follow, and best resources shared, you become the beginning of someone’s social journey. That’s a useful place to be.

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