I’ve been working on my ideas for building a community and thought I’d share them with you. First I’ve broken down the process into 5 points. Then in my infographic below you can see some more of my ideas.

How to build a community

Step one: Research

First define your aims, what kind of a community do you need? Can you tap into an established community, if not what value could you add? You need to do background checks on how your competitors are doing it, what the best communities in the world are like and figure out why. You also need to check out your expected audience and find out more about them.

Step two: Prepare

You’ve done the ground work, but you need to make some decisions on who will be moderating the community and where the conversation will take place. Take a ‘snapshot’ of where your brand is right now to compare it to future results. Figure out who will provide content, how often and what kind you will need. Write a detailed plan, and include what you will do when something goes wrong.

These first two steps may take some time but it’s worth it.

Step three: Create

Design your site to be easy-to-use and clear, consider whether you need obvious branding. Think about the kind of content that your audience will like and when you’ll be publishing it. Have a stock of generic content incase of a busy spell. It’s important to maintain the community constantly.

Step four: Grow

Look at what your audience is responding to and do more of it. Encourage them to tell other people and reward them for good behaviour. Keep researching who your audience are down to the finer details and categorise the role they play in the community. Keep an eye on brand advocators and trolls.

Step five: Moderate

It’s important throughout the process to have rules and regulations in place that the community members need to adhere to, make these very clear. As your community grows you may find they moderate themselves more but if whether they do or don’t you’re the ‘fall-guy’.

Building a community infographic

(Click on it to make it big-sized)

Helpful links…

The Seven Principles of Community Building/The Art of Creating a Community/8 things to avoid when building a community/Five rules for building a successful online community/The ultimate list of resources

2 responses »

  1. Firstly, Happy Birthday!

    Secondly, going along the ‘content is king’ line, it can help to have an old skool editorial plan drawn up; checking out the calendar for relevant events / dates that would be good linkjuice. You can even ask the community (when they are all buzzing away) what content they’d prefer in the future, which allows them to sculpt the shape of the community they are a part of.

    Identifying influencers / vocal individuals in your niche, getting them on board and shouting about it can be a really good way of bringing in members too, not to mention that they tend to have solid editorial that won’t need too much vetting, if any.

    Being tenacious through the early stages of a community is also really important; it can take up to and over a year for a community to mature, and it can be hard to remain motivated during that time if engagement drops or tactics don’t seem to work, so it’s important to keep that in mind.

    Lastly it’s important to consider how essential email marketing/newsletters are, especially in the seeding/early stages of a community. What we find at FreshNetworks is that newsletters often create spikes of activity, which fall off less and less as the community matures. It’s like a friendly little nudge reminding them that they’re missing out on a world of awesome. There may be a certain cost to this facet of community growing, but I’d say that it’s a largely unavoidable one if you plan to succeed.

    Great post by the way, and have a good birthday! 🙂

    • charlotteelizabethclark says:

      I think you make some good points George, especially on newsletters. At one place I worked, the email newsletter lists brought in a comparatively huge number of clicks compared to social. But obviously those contacts were already there so for me I saw social as being more about brand awareness for that particular company rather than page impressions.

      I also think that all sites should have opt in marketing. This is the best way to get through to people, don’t spam them! 🙂

      Thanks for the post!

      Also, for everyone else FreshNetworks is a great company with a fantastic blog, which is featured on my RockMelt toolbar so I can see their posts easily.

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