About The Topic vs. The Product

In my experience, it’s 10x harder for a brand to build a community about the topic than about the product. This is because you’re trying to create demand rather than satisfy demand. And creating demand is extremely hard.

Some organisations have succeeded here to various degrees (FitBit, Hubspot, and Monday.com spring to mind). But the successes are few and far between.

Yes, given the choice people probably do want to have industry-level discussions.

But (and this is a big but), why would they do it on your community and not Twitter? Why would they not do it on a platform which offers the maximum exposure with the least amount of effort? Why do it in a brand community where people will naturally be suspect of the brand’s motives vs. an independent community created by a passionate amateur?

It’s no surprise that the overwhelming majority of successful industry-related communities are founded by people without being employed by one of the major players in that industry.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it means you have to leverage your unique advantages and tell a very different story.

This might be a story about exclusivity. Perhaps only the top people get to join and participate in your community. But that story limits what the size of your community can be. Perhaps you tell a story about focusing upon a particular niche that is underserved at the moment. But, again, that has natural size limitations.

Or it might be a story about influence and making change within an environment that is being supported, but not led, by the brand. There’s no shortage of stories to tell.

But, trust me, just giving an audience another place to have these kinds of discussions won’t be enough to get them to visit. The competition is far too fierce for that.

See you in the new year.

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