What makes a community tick (6 tips to make it work)

Creating a community platform is easy, however how to ensure that the target audience you were aiming for is using it. Since it is not an exact science, there is not a how to guide or one size fits all approach. However there are a few things you might want to pay extra attention to increase your changes on success:

  1. Think of the purpose of your community. Is it a place for people to spend a substantial time of their day, or is it just a platform for getting things done? You have to make it clear upfront, since your community management style might differ in each situation. You can read more about this in this article if your community is a restaurant or a supermarket. (tweet this)
  2. Create content. Nothing is more awkward than arriving in a community that is empty.  Therefore you should make sure that there is always a bit of content and more important some activity. Nothing is worse then to have stale content, since what is that telling your new community member… So make sure to have always a bit of activity, even it just a few people. (tweet this)
  3. Don’t structure. Too much. Structure is good, too much structure makes things confusing. If you enter a community which has more than 70 sub communities you don’t know where you should go (unless you are very structure loving person). If you have just one place to go, there is no decision involved, just move over there. So only structure when there is really a need for it, for example when you have +100 messages per day, then you might want to add structure to prevent information overflow. Structure is general is always an issue, and every issue is an opportunity in disguise. (tweet this)
  4. Don’t expect your (future) users to help you. The time of build-and-they-will-come are over, if that time has ever existed in the first place. There is no such thing as a bottom up strategy. You can try to motivate your users to help you, however in the end you have to do it on yourself. You are the one that should lead by example. (tweet this)
  5. If you have a specialised community, don’t settle for the generic 1-9-90 rule from Jakob Nielsen. You activity will be probably a lot higher, so make you sure you are not stopping when you have reach 10% of people who are posting very regular to every now and then. So know what you are activity level should be upfront and don’t stop till you get there. (tweet this)
  6. It is hard work. It might be obvious however many people think success comes overnight, just because they are great on Twitter and manage a Facebook page.  Building a community takes often 6-9 months to get a critical mass and to become a bit more closer to self sustaining. However even then you need community management, you need to be there daily, you need to be the one always providing anybody with answer until there is somebody who will do it for you. Read this story about a homeless women in my local super market and you might understand how important it is to build a loyal community. (tweet this)

What is your tip to make a community tick? Leave a comment, or tell me on Twitter.