A short-sighted approach to building a community is to start with any activity you can get and then try and improve it.
This almost never works. The people who would make high-quality contributions will be turned off by low-quality activity. No one is going to add a thoughtful analytical piece to a site filled with memes and off-topic discussion. Soon, people will notice they’re not getting much value and move on.
The better approach is to demand high-quality contributions right from the beginning. Be clear about the expectations. Reject and remove contributions (even contributors) who can’t meet that high standard.
It’s much harder to get started, but once things get going quality begets quality. The key is to create and sell a compelling vision. A vision that highlights the benefits of this community, the unique role members can play within it, and the urgency of doing it now.
Low-quality engagement is a trap. It might seem like metrics are improving but you’re just digging deeper into the quicksand. The real magic in starting a community is in creating and executing a powerful story that attracts and resonates with the very people you want in your community.