Before a community is launched, you must build
relationships with prospective members.
These are the founding members. These are the people that join when there's nothing there because they have a commitment to you as much as they have a commitment to the cause.
Building these early relationships is a time-consuming process. This
means repeated messages over long periods of time. You can only maintain so
many productive relationships. I suspect this number is between 50 and 100
(possibly less). This is a natural cap on the community’s initial growth.
If you want more active members in an
early-stage community, don’t spend more on marketing, hire more community
managers. Marketing will get you more registered members; community managers
will get you more active members.
This applies to existing communities too. One
community manager can only do so much. A second can spend more time inviting
members to join, converting them into regulars, initiating discussions,
creating content, organizing events/activities etc… All of these have a
bigger impact on a community’s success than any investment in a platform.