Building An Online Community

It seems that everyone these days is trying to building an online community to advance their online marketing efforts.  With advances in technology over the past few years, the process of supporting an online community is easier than ever.  But the greatest challenge still lies in building and maintaining an online community.

Over the past year and a half I’ve been involved in building an online community –  we’ve grown it substantially,  bringing over 3 million people together every month.   How did we do it?  That’s worthy of a book, not a blog.

But allow me to share some of the key rules that you should follow when building your online community:

  • Deliver Value – Online communities are all about sharing between members.  It isn’t a one-to-many relationship.  It is a many-to-many relationship.  And how do you get your members to contribute?  Simple.  Deliver value.  Make it in their best interest to contribute.
  • Be Unique – Technology has made it simple for ANYONE to create an online community, in minutes.  While there are pros and cons to using these turn key solutions, they represent competition none-the-less.  You need to step outside that noise.  Be unique !
  • Create a Platform – You want your community to attract not only end users, but also other companies as well.  You achieve this by becoming a platform. Offer APIs that “hook” into your backend, allowing others to use your community to support their marketing efforts.
  • Make It Social – The keyword in Online Community is Community.  And communities live and die on the social interaction of its members.
  • Be Specific – Focus focus focus.  You can’t be everything to everyone, and neither can your Online Community.
  • Be Open – Trying to control your Online Community is a recipe for disaster.  You need to allow it to grow naturally, and foster that growth.
  • Be Honest – And above all, be honest.  Be transparent.  Be true.