I have made countless mistakes that were preventable because I didn't know the process of community building — Kangle Lin, Co-Founder/CEO @ Pubb.at
Communities always existed since the beginning of humanity. Through thousands of years of changes, the communities we have today are very different from before. Nowadays people form communities with the help of the internet. There are advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is now you are no longer limited by distance when forming community, you can hit anyone up online. The disadvantage being the internet has so much information, it is hard to find the best way to build your community.
You must be overwhelmed by all those talks about how to build a community on the internet already. That is why I decided to create this beginner's guide for you, a community builder who is about to build a vibrant community! Trust me I have read too much garbage since I was 17. Too many textbook-style blogs are out there are telling you to do XYZ then you will be good to go. It just pissed me off like those college professors who have never run a business but try to teach me how to do business. It’s all textbook, the real world is VERY DIFFERENT.
Let’s cut through the junk. Whatever is below is what I concluded from being a community builder for years. I won’t give you any textbook junk which will make me look good but won’t really help you much. (i.e. Get influencer or social media ads. Come on, been there done that, didn’t work out most of the time.)
1. Define Your Community
Define your community. What does the community do? People don’t join a community if they don’t see there is a need. Find what problem(need) they have. (i.e coffee club members love to taste and talk about coffees, that’s why they join a coffee club).
Don’t worry if you pivot later, it is totally normal. Building a community is like building business, you want to know what people are having problems with and how your community is their solution. It’s a constant searching and adjustment.
2. Find Your Members
Find your members is like find a customer. I already mentioned above that people join because they have very specific needs. Find out who has those needs then figure out where do they hang is your next step. If your targeted members hang in the library, then go to the library. If your targeted members hang in the gym, then go to the gym.
Talk to them when you found them. You want to understand their need. This is your constant adjustment. If you have a coffee club where people only talk about coffee, people who want to taste coffee will not join your community.
Find the right online platform for your community. Not every platform is the best for your community. Choose the one that fits your purpose. You don’t want to use discord or slack when you have a mid or large size community, because then people won’t be able to discuss anything. But if you are a gamer, you might want to use discord. It depends. pubb.at is always a very universal platform for all communities, because of its real-time chat and event management feature. But you want to find the one that fits your community.
3. Create Your OC/SC
OC=Original Content, SC= Supporting content.
Create your OC. Community builders are responsible of create the content in your community. Make sure the content is what your members what to read. Otherwise, they won’t read it. OC also includes offline events and anything that the community builder creates.
Create your SC. Comments and follow-up interactions are the life blood of communities. That is exactly what SC is. Without SC, your community isn’t a community but a one-time event/read/post. Make sure the platform for your community has the capacity to let you create SC.
4. Be Active, Consistent, and Patient
You must build the trust before people join your community. A community is based on relationships. You must build it. That is why being active is so important. When people write to you, you must respond. Your response must contain value to other people. That is how you build trust and relationships. Bring them value. This is especially important in the early stage.
Consistency is like a roadsign. You want people to trust you, you must show up constantly. I know I can count on the store next door if I need to buy anything today, because for the past 3 years I know they open every single day. Community is the same, show people that you are reliable.
Being patient is critical. Most people give up because community building takes time. It took people months if not years. It will be longer than most of you are expecting right now. Don’t give up! A good way to stay consistent and patient is to join a group of community builders who are doing the same thing. A good recommendation from me would be pubb.at's dedicated pubb group just for community builders. It doesn’t matter which group you joined, find the one that fits you the most. If it’s on twitter, go there. If it’s on slack, go there. As long as that works the best for you.
Community building a marvelous work. I am so happy that you are doing it. I really want to see you succeed. Remember these four steps are not necessarily in a particular sequence. 1,2,3 are very relevant. They are all tide with one thing in common: data collection on your members/potential members. You want to keep gather that data to improve your content and community.
Now, go take your community from zero to hero! Let’s bring more meaningful connections to this world!
Check the <Pubb Builder Project> for more the playbook on community building!