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Functional Communities And Remarkable Edges

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

There’s a gap between the communities that die and those that thrive.

It’s filled with communities that lack a remarkable edge. They lack the ‘thing’ that’s going to get people to rave about it, invite others, and decide to associate their identity with it.

It’s filled with communities that are functional. People use them when they have to (i.e. to solve a problem), but they’re not going to grow much neither.

If your community feels static, if it’s not growing, if you feel stuck you need to find and push an edge.

Your edge is the remarkable part of your community. It’s the unique gift that only you, through your vision, creativity, and determination, can bring to the group.

There are no shortage of edges, here’s a few.

Practical Actions Hypothetical Ideas
Serious Fun
Cutting Edge Proven
Expensive Cheap
Compassionate Professional
Newcomers Experts
Hyperlocal Global
Advanced Beginner
Scientific Street Savvy
Masculine Feminine

You can add plenty of your own too I’m sure.

Spend 10 minutes with your team. Agree which edge(s) you’re pushing. Go through your upcoming plan of action. Align every item of content, every discussion, web copy, and events with that edge. Mentally prepare yourself to stick with it.

You need to go all in here.

If your edge is practical, remove anything theoretic. Ensure every discussion lists practical next steps. Demand event content lists how it applies to members. Remove discussion posts which don’t meet the criteria.

This is going to upset some people. Don’t worry about how many people you upset, worry about how many people you delight. The people that love the concept will participate a lot, they will bring in others that love the concept too. This is the very thing that gets you the kind of growth you need and want. Track your referral rates and online mentions.

However, this is the easy part. The hard part is sticking with the edge when the going gets tough.

What will you do when your boss’ boss suggests you broaden the focus?

Will you remove members who don’t have enough experience for your edge?

Will you remove posts and upset members to prevent blunting that edge?

What will you do when people get upset you’re not letting them talk about what they want?

If your community is about what your brand sells (e.g. a customer service community), you might be fine without an edge. There’s not much competition there. If you’re the biggest community in your field, your focus is on appealing to the masses, you can probably skip the edges too.

If you’re neither, you need to identify the edge you’re trying to push.

An edge is what’s going to attract the people you need. It’s going to attract the people who are dissatisfied with the status quo, the people who aren’t highly engaged in existing communities. The people most open to joining and being a part of something new.

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