A common idea is to launch a community, get a few members, and wait for members to spread the word.
That can happen, but it’s rare. It’s rarer still in private communities which aren’t open to the public.
Be honest, how many communities have you recommended to your peers in the last month? (or even in the last year?). It’s probably not many (if any!).
This is why Rand’s post on amplification content is worth a read. Many of the motivations/reasons for amplifying a content Rand lists are the same I’d list for promoting a community. To adapt Rand’s reasons slightly, these include:
- Novelty. It’s a completely brand new and surprising idea for a community (a typical forum for people to ask and answer questions doesn’t cut it).
- Belief reinforcement (i.e. it validated your belief). The community concept or content posted within the community strongly supports a closely held belief and connects people who strongly support that belief.
- Relationship with the founder. Members know the founder and want to help the founder.
- Controversy. Disputes between members that resonate on a broader scale (or even a good debate).
- Familiarity. It hosts many of the well-known names in the industry.
- Rankings. The community offers a codified ranking of the best successes within the sector or top people within the community.
- Ego. Members have their egos invested in the success of the community. Either the community is about them, they’re the founding members etc…
This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it’s a good place to start.
While you might attract organic growth via search over time, if you want members to talk about it you need to give them a reason too besides the community simply being ‘really good’.