5 ways to build online communities

Building online communities is easy isn’t it? I mean you see many communities on the web so surely it’s reasonably easy to do? As I’ve recently discovered it’s not as easy as it appears, however it is fun though.

I was recently given the job of Wiki Community Manager (a promotion in my eyes) at my company – a community building project. My first (and most important) priority is to build the wiki community. Specifically, to get people signed up to the wiki and engaged. Also, ensure user profiles are adequately completed with avatars, contact details and company association to aide search. The most difficult aspect is the complex nature of the wiki community: various interest groups, different functional roles and personal interests.

1. Love what you do
Before you can start to build a community you need to be passionate about the subjects and topics. Being truly passionate makes being part of the conversation that much easier. I look at Pete Cashmore (aka Mr Mashable) for inspiration. Whilst it’s his job he manages to be extremely passionate about ‘all that’s new on the web’ – not only is he very busy pushing out content for his community but you can also feel it in his writing. Your community users will sense your passion and will become passionate too.

2. Understand what the community likes
To truly engage you need to understand the discussion. You need to understand what makes your users tick too. Some contributors will be more active than others. Use these users to leverage discussion and bring other users into the discussion. You start to act like the bridge between users and build discussion networks and a community.

3. Get involved and constantly monitor activity
Be very involved. Participate as much as possible in as many discussions as you can. By being involved you’re able to garden the community and keep momentum going.

4. Have a plan
Whilst not always easy try and formulate a content (discussion) plan. Naturally, you can’t control what your users say but stimulate discussion by referring to topical news. Content that’s recently will always get attention. So, if you know a big event is coming up start planning how you might start discussion. If possible establish contact with thought leaders well in advance and attempt to get them prepped before the occasion.

5. Be patient
Not all things on the web comes quickly. Like SEO, brand respect etc, it takes time. So don’t give up too soon. Instead keep at it, eventually you’ll see your rewards.


2 thoughts on “5 ways to build online communities

  1. These 5 guidelines could apply to anything in life. 🙂 They are not necessarily helpful when there are 100 other people who are doing the same out there with the same community you might be targeting.

  2. Jason, you have a point with reference to smaller community sizes, however, this is a completely new experience for me so I still have a lot to learn. I’d imagine as I continue my journey, with community-building, I’ll learn new and innovative ways as well as specific ways to better build communities.

    The list I mention are very generic (for a reason) and as such could apply to many web-based build initiatives.

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