Updated: Oct 11
Author: Nishant Das, Founder, Cheerio
First off, the basics, we all know what a community means, a group of people who believe in a shared interest, purpose, person or a way of life.
That definition my friend, however, is a little dated. In the world of Creators & Startups, in this era of content explosion, the term community has become clouded.
For the purpose of this article we will be using the term Community to include people who you can reach out to with your message, without spending a dime on advertising. This can include:
Your online network: Your Linkedin connections, Insta followers, Youtube subscribers, Whatsapp contacts, Cheerio community members, Facebook friends... well, you get the idea.
Your offline network: Your friends, family, relatives, teachers, bosses, colleagues, alumni of your college, school or university, your neighbourhood folks and the like.
Your second degree connections: Take the above two networks, the top 10% most familiar folks might give you access to their community as well and that is the extent of your second degree connections.
Now that we are clear about what communities in the context of this article mean, let's dive deep into who should really care about building thriving communities of their own and why.
The quick answer is obviously everyone, but I'll be a little more specific. Professionally it becomes extremely important for people to build communities if they are Founders, entrepreneurs, creators, experts, sales folks or looking for a job.
Yeah, I am pretty sure all of us would check one of those boxes.
On a personal level, community building is important for us to have a support system of people always ready to back you. This can often translate to professional success as well, for example the collective power of Parsi communities have ensured the typical Parsi is much well off than a typical Indian, the tricks of trade, early exposure to entrepreneurship and access to capital and people who have been there and done that has worked wonders for the Agrawal community.
So without further ado, here are the top ten things you should be doing to ensure your communities thrive and increase your luck surface area and chances of success:
Understand the 80:20 rule and how it applies to your community
Your community no matter where it exists, can be broken down into a 80% majority of a certain persona and 20% of outliers. Let me give you an example, my linkedin followers are primarily comprised of investors, founders and product managers who are the majority 80% and the rest 20% are developers, students, government employees, my college alums and a huge long tail of every profession imaginable.
It's not really a coincidence, rather a slow painstaking process of adding product managers to my connections, because in my previous avatar I was looking for jobs in Product and now that has moved to adding Investors because I am looking for capital.
That brings me to my next point.
2. Be clear on the why? Why are you building the community and what do you want out of it?
Its important to have a set objective and then curate your community, even if it requires you to remove people from your linkedin followership or subscribers list on youtube. The most common professional reasons for building communities are to sell your product or service, get hired, get funded or hire talent.
So be clear on the why and the rest of the strategy will follow.
3. Know where to find your first 10, first 100 and first 1000 community members. Don't level up until you have engaged 80% of them to a point they don't keep leaving.
The secret sauce to building thriving communities with extremely high engagement and retention is simply to start slow and find the few things that your first 10 community members care enough about and therefore become sticky, engaging as often as possible.
Once you have a sense that the first 10 really love being a part of the community without you putting them up to it, that's exactly when you are ready to level up to 100 community members.
Understand what sets your first 10 members apart, what's their persona, the positioning they respond to really well and where do they hangout/spend their time otherwise.
Clarity on the above should help you craft a killer go to market strategy to acquire your next 100 members.
Once 80% of these become sticky, level up again to 1000, rinse and repeat, the glow keeps becoming stronger and soon your community has become a distribution channel!
4. The link to your community members should never be dependent on a single channel
How do you interact with your community? Through email newsletters? Through whatsapp or telegram groups? Through your linkedin?
Have you ever wondered why people with a large following on a certain platform routinely ask their followers to follow them on other platforms too or sign up for their mailer list?
The answer is simple, you should never be dependent on just one channel to reach your community. Make sure you can reach them not just on your primary platform(Insta, Linkedin) but also on email and whatsapp. That way even if the primary platform loses its relevance or your members unsubscribe to you on a single channel, you have a few more ways to win their love back!
5. Monetisation without segmentation and good positioning almost always leads to spamming and eventually your community dies out!
We all joined that one community online that really spoke to us, we were contributors and moderators, we believed in our collective power and then we became big enough to be monetised.
And then, the admins and the mods allowed advertising, sales and self promotions for a fee on the community and that's when we lost interest.
Sounds familiar? Well, that's what happens to communities that monetise without segmenting their offerings. What you sell on your community must create value for your members and should be highly relevant.
The best way to market to communities is to offer freemium products that give members a flair of what the full version could offer and how helpful it could be.
Group discounts and bulk offers can be other ways of marketing to communities.
Have a community you wish to engage, retain and monetise better? Try our community management SaaS app Cheerio.