The Common Story

June 18, 2014Comments Off on The Common Story

You speak to a lot of the people in the sector and realize that everyone would benefit from a community.

The community can be a place where people exchange ideas and learn from one another.

You talk to members of the target audience about the idea. They tell you they love the idea and this is exactly what they want. 

You create the platform, fill it with the content they want, and invite prospective members to join and participate. 

Then things start to go wrong. A lot of people join, but not many participate.

You ask them what's happening. They tell you they're too busy. They don't have time right now, but will participate soon. 

But it doesn't happen. You might prompt someone to respond to a discussion, and they respond, but it doesn't become a habit. 

After a year it's clear it's not taking off and the community is cancelled. 

The question is this…what did you do wrong? 

This is a fairly common story. It feels like you did everything right, but the community stilled failed. 

There wasn't one big thing you did wrong. It's more likely the sum of many mistakes.

In our experience it's usually a combination of the following:

1) Bad community concept. You created a community about the topic, but it didn't have a specific audience-within-the-audience target market. It lacked a goal/purpose. 

2) Bad research. If you ask someone if a knowledge sharing community is a great idea, they'll say yes. Of course it is. That's not a neutral question. People will always try to make you happy. You have to see if they develop the idea themselves, find out when they will participate, what time they will commit to it etc…

3) Developing A Content site. By creating a content site, you're encouraging the audience to read, not participate.

4) Lack of real relationships and poor invitations. You didn't establish real, genuine, relationships beforehand and the invitations you used sounded a little too corporateish. The exact words and style of your invitation matter a lot. 

5) Ungenuine Discussions. The discussions you posted didn't sound like genuine, real, discussions. They sounded a little too formal, a little too ungenuine. They betrayed that you're desperate for discussions to take place. 

6) Lack of community management drive. You're not driving the community enough. You're not there directly inviting people to join the community, nudging people to participate, hosting regular events/activities, or participating enough yourself. 

7) No sense of community elements. You fail to bring in any sense of community elements into the community. Members don't visit to bond with one another. They only visit to get free information.

The list goes on.

The point is that you're not going to solve this with one big change. That's not how it works. You're only going to solve it by becoming incrementally better at a lot of different things. That takes time and it's harder to see the immediate results. 

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