There is a lot wrong with iParents’ story.
In 2009, iParents was a community of 70,000 parents and growing. Venture capitalists promised to invest $3m if they reached 100,000. iParents recruited a few employees, aggressively added new features and spent $18,000 on a marketing agency to run a $100 photo contest.
The contest failed, members stopped visiting, investors balked and the company collapsed.
What did they do wrong?
- Too focused on content. Content is overrated. There is too much advice out there in every sector. Borrow existing content, don’t spend your time creating your own.
- Too focused on growth. Rapid growth is bad. You need slow, steady, growth and to nurture relationships at a brisk pace.
- Too many features. Features are overrated. You need to concentrate activity.
- They hired a marketing agency. You should never hire a marketing agency to help your community. Competitions are a terrible incentives.
- Seeing Facebook as a competitor. It’s not, it’s your best friend. It’s a place to recruit members to your community and remind them the community exists.
- Pressure to earn money. Communities take years to properly develop. Don’t spend money that you need back in the near future.
Too many communities suffer the same fate as iParents. They repeat the same mistakes and fail to learn. This needs to change.