We Made A Reservation In Your Name

October 29, 2008Comments Off on We Made A Reservation In Your Name

I hate it when my name is taken. I bet John Smith does too. If you’ve tried to register a Yahoo or GMail account recently, you know what I’m talking about.

If you want a big influencer to join your online community, why not reserve their name in advance? It shows a great deal of respect and should appeal to their ego.

You can also attack their fear of loss. In these brand-hijacking days. How many key influencers would hurry to claim their reserved name if you explained it was only going to be reserved for 5 more days.

Why not reserve the names of all your customers and drop them a quick note asking them to claim their name before it’s opened up to everyone?

This also works if your transitioning from one website to another. Everyone’s name is reserved for them, so long as they claim it within a week.

People Will Participate In This Community Because…

October 29, 2008Comments Off on People Will Participate In This Community Because…

You need to answer this about your community. You’re allowed 12 words max, so make them count. The more specific, the better. You’re not allowed an ‘and’ or an ‘or’.

One more crucial rule, it has to improve the life of the member. No-one’s going to participate because it boosts the company’s quarterly earnings.

So for example:

People will participate in this community because they want great advice from recovering alcoholics.

People will participate in this community because they want to build their reputation as a great gamer.

People will participate in this community because they might find perfect partner.

People will participate in this community because it helps them get a dream job.

Don’t rush, there is plenty of time to get this right.

Be very precise with the wording. Precise actions, precise people and precise benefits. Take a week or so, do some research. Ask your target members what they would love and try that.

This is your mission statement. Day by day you work to make that single appeal even stronger.

Writing An Online Community Brief

October 28, 2008Comments Off on Writing An Online Community Brief

Bill Johnston has an excellent format for an online community brief. You can download it here.

What would you add? Or remove?

One Hundred Little Community Builders

October 28, 2008Comments Off on One Hundred Little Community Builders

Help your members grow their own followings.

When a member emerges from the pack, drop him an e-mail. Congratulate them on being a top member and offer advice they can use to build their following.

If it works, they'll be working hard to build their own mini-community. Wouldn't it be great to have 100 mini-community builders in your community?

When Your Community Isn’t Gaining Momentum

October 28, 2008Comments Off on When Your Community Isn’t Gaining Momentum

Statistically speaking, you’re probably going to fail.

I know, it’s gloomy stuff.

If you’ve tried everything and you’re not getting anywhere, it’s time to ask for help. Find 15 influential people and ask for their expert advice.

Most people are nice. If you ask them for advice they’ll give you some. They might even offer to help.

Hate Is A Lazy Community Building Strategy

October 27, 2008Comments Off on Hate Is A Lazy Community Building Strategy


Hate is a short-cut to building an online community.

Arguments are easy to get sucked in to and hard to walk away from. If your online community is filled with arguments, you’re going to get people joining quickly and visiting often. It’s addictive.

But you attract the lowest common denominator of people. You attract people that don’t want to achieve anything. You attract people that love arguing.

Have you seen the “We hate [celeb/group name]” groups? They’re popular, but they never get much done.

A hate-filled online community is a live grenade. They will always be looking for people to hate. Sooner or later, they’ll target you or someone smart enough to report your online community to your ISP.

Then it’s game over.

Can You Create In-Jokes?

October 27, 2008Comments Off on Can You Create In-Jokes?

Every night, from 4am to 6am, a hosting bug messed up our iGUK website. The format went crazy and precisely 32 anonymous users were erroneously reported online. It become a running joke, our website had ghosts! Whenever anything went wrong, website or with the company, the ghosts took the blame.

I started that joke, which leads me to believe that you can start in-jokes for your community. If not directly, then you can increase the odds something will become an in-joke. Here are a few ideas I’ve seen work in my community and elsewhere.

  • Steal, Steal, Steal. Find a community you love, look at a few of the in-jokes and colloquialisms, and adapt them for your own community.
  • Name actions after people. Pick on people that can take it. What are they known for? What have they done? Can you name it after them?
  • Refer to a funny comment/incident from one thread in another. Perhaps the only practical advice in this post. If something’s funny in one thread, refer to it in another, and another. If it catches, you’re in.
  • Frequently Recite Strange Phrases. Did someone say something that sounds a little odd. Can you repeat it more often and in nonsensical ways?
  • Create ACRONYMS. Now no-one will have a clue what you’re talking about…unless they do.
  • Mimic Someone’s Writing Style. Does someone have an annoying habit of misusing capital letters and ending bullet points with an unnecessary .’s ? Repeat.It.Often.
  • Mis-Apply Topical Terms. Pick something quite relevant, and apply it in strange and bizarre ways. Has your community got any Mavericks? Can you see the moon from your house? What about bailouts?
  • Quotes of the Month. Create a quotes of the week thread. Let people add their funniest quotes. Let people steal and recycle them as they see fit.
  • Turn Big Mistakes Into Big Jokes. Skip this one if it was YOUR mistake. What’s the most famous blunder in your community? Do you have your own community-gate? How about an
  • Never Forget Terrible Excuses. I don’t know why, but terrible excuses about anything make for great in-jokes.
  • Refer to Real Life Meetings. Things tend to happen in real-life meetings that are endlessly repeated. Who got lost? Who forgot to tip? Who tripped over?
  • Top 10 In-Jokes List. Yes, well, it works.
  • Do Something Random. Sometimes I eat brown bread.

Here’s a good list of in-jokes at MetaFilter. What in-jokes does your or your community have? Did you help start them?

What Matters (and what doesn’t)

October 26, 2008Comments Off on What Matters (and what doesn’t)

What Matters?

  • Average time on site.
  • How many members are actively participating once a week.
  • Members meeting new people who can help them.
  • Whether the debates are positive/constructive or negative/destructive.
  • You’re doing less work than last month.
  • You have more super-members.
  • More members are volunteering to help you out.
  • The ideas and feedback the community is generating.
  • Whether employees have embraced the community.
  • How many of the discussions are generated by you, and how many by the community.
  • The community is recruiting new members themselves.
  • How many people you approach join the community.
  • Your business is committing to serving its community.
  • Members feel they are part of your business.
  • Is the community growing or shrinking?
  • Offline events and real-world meetings.
  • Technical problems.
  • Are you closer to quitting?

What doesn’t matter?

  • Number of members.
  • How many ads are clicked.
  • Page views.
  • Does it look good?
  • PR coverage.
  • Competitors.
  • The number of links you’ve received.
  • Sales.
  • Fights.
  • Income -vs- Expenditure
  • Invites to conferences.

Can You Build An Online Community In 3 Weeks?

October 25, 2008Comments Off on Can You Build An Online Community In 3 Weeks?

Maybe, it depends.

It depends if you’ve established yourself as an authority beforehand, or you’ve got the respect of those who have.

It depends if you’ve got 5 to 10 community builders to help you out, or a small legion of volunteers.

It depends if you can offer huge prizes for a competition, or reward each and every new member.

It depends if your audience is extremely welcoming to mail-merge, or are predisposed to invite all their friends.

It depends if you’re only interested in numbers, or have a big list of customers who have expressed an interest.

To adapt an old saying, you can build an online community well, fast or cheap. Pick two.

What Did You Say About Me?

October 24, 2008Comments Off on What Did You Say About Me?

If you want someone to join an online community, try talking about them. People are staggeringly self-interested.

If you want a group of people to join your online community, talk about the individuals within the group.

If I wanted employees of Edelman to join my community, I would start debates about who my members most admired at the organisation. Who’s the most overrated Edelman employee. Who would be the biggest loss to Edelman. Maybe rate Edelman’s prominent bloggers out of 10.

It’s good content (content about people usually is) and it’s likely to be passed around the offices.

The stronger the emotional pull, the easier it is to overcome the joining barriers.

List Your Phone Number

October 24, 2008Comments Off on List Your Phone Number

It’s basic customer service.

If you’re building an online community, handling problems and helping people, then make your phone number available.

You will probably solve problems quicker and your community will appreciate someone they can call.

Mine is 646-241-1536 (US)

One Big Play Per Week

October 24, 2008Comments Off on One Big Play Per Week

What’s your big play this week?

What’s the fun tactic you’re using to grow your numbers? You should execute one every week. You can theme the weeks, set the ideas in advance, even have registration pages.

All your other work is housecleaning, you plays are the important stuff. Try to execute one per week. It’s fun for you and your community. It shows commitment and builds relationships between members.

If just one idea per month succeeds as you hope, you will never have to worry about membership numbers again.

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