Imagine a line that represents what average in your field have. If you’re below that line, you’re disadvantaged in some way. If you’re above the line, you have an advantage others don’t.
Saul Alinsky brought people together to reduce a deficiency in their lives. This might be poor housing conditions, lack of voting rights or solving the dog litter problem in the local park. He resolved the problem, he brought them back up to average.
Most online community builders don’t do this work. They work above the line. They connect people to open up new benefits, advantages or opportunities they didn’t have. But these are a hard sell. You’re convincing people to want something new.
It’s tempting to act below the line and conjure a problem, with a strategy and a solution. It’s a mistake. If they didn’t know the problem existed, and didn’t help identify it, it’s never going to be important enough.
You don’t know the end result from connecting people. So forget the long-term for now focus on offering a place that’s immediately fun to be part of. Recognition amongst a crowd of peers is fun, as is making like-minded friends and being invited to moderate a discussion in your field of expertise. Not many people turn these down. Try to develop thousands of small, fun, interactions. This is energy. Energy leads to amazing things happening.
If you’re working below the line, think long-term. If you’re working above the line, think short-term and energy.