The Wall Street Journal claims that most online communities fail:
Ed Moran, a Deloitte consultant who just completed a study of more than 100 businesses with online communities. Not surprisingly, these sites failed to gain traction with customers. Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members; less than 25% have more than 1,000 members – despite the fact that close to 6% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects “A disturbingly high number of these sites fail,” Moran tells us.
I suspect no-one wants to do the hard work. The hard work is reaching out and talking to people one at a time. It’s talking to 10 – 20 people every day for a year or two, selling them in on the community and keeping them involved as it grows (trying delegating some responsibility!).
Gradually, it gets easier. Friends recruit friends, the community gains prominence, and then maybe you can ramp up some budget from advertising or PR to reach the masses.
But that first year…it’s hard, slow, work. But somebody has to do it.