The Startup
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The Startup

How to Build a Community So You’ll Never Run Out Of Business

When you build a community, you have a group of people that have trust in you and your product/brand, so make sure you are bringing value to their lives and you’ll always have customers.

Image source: Unsplash

How many communities have you joined & how do you manage them all? It’s hard & crowded, right?

Well, when most of the startups are focused on building a community on only Channels — Slack, FB groups, Discord, etc. — you can do something else to stand out or maybe make the members more interested in your brand. In the end, it’s more about bringing values and building connections.

As more and more startups are moving towards building a community-led product it’s getting harder for both users and startups to scale it and benefit from it. Because, you know, there’s more supply than demand.

Here’s what I see.

A few months back I joined a crypto and NFT community on Slack. At the time, the community got super attention and everyone just wanted to be a part of it. It quickly grew from 100 members to 700+ in 7 days (seriously). For nearly 3–4 months, the community was active and highly engaging. Every day there were, like, 200+ messages. Now, the channel goes weeks without engagement.

Why is it so? As awesome it sounds, in reality, it’s really hard to maintain and scale a community. And that’s what happens to most of them. It’s very easy to start one and sometimes it’s also easy to scale (if you have luck) but for it to live long, it’s harder than ever.

Why this system of sticking on a platform needs to change

  • More supply than demand. There are already too many communities for a single person to join & interact with, leading to low chances of getting involved in any one of them. They might find the area interesting but the chances of them sticking around is still low.
  • People leave if the community isn’t active. Did you see the above example I shared? The excitement starts from the FOMO and goes away after it’s satisfied. To have an active community there’s a need to create quality content that everyone can relate to and talk about. A good quality content leads to higher engagement.
  • Lack of consistency leading no reason for people to engage. You, as a creator of the community, take what steps to keep the members engaged with each other and know that there’s always a topic to talk about.
  • Having communities on different platforms means signing up to too many apps & websites. And there’s no guarantee that the member will ever sign in again.

The work is all about creativity and innovative ways to engage the members. Keeping your goals in mind, list down what benefits are you offering to your member and how are you attracting them, so that the goals of both parties are fulfilled.

The ways you can build a community

Community is still one of the best things a startup or a brand can build. It’s important to connect with the community they’re operating in. When you know how to build a community, you know you’ll never run out of business. You’ve built a solid group of people that have trust in you.

Maybe they become your first customers each time you build a product and marketing gets a lot easier when your audience is right there.

Don’t just be limited to a few platforms — Slack, FB groups, Discord — instead, discover new & innovative ways to build a group of like-minded people that works on the same values or niche.

1. Build a newsletter or become any kind of content creator

Creators know how to a community around a specific niche. Whether you see course creators, YouTube video creators or podcasts and now through newsletters.

I’ve been building a community through my newsletter for a few months now, specifically for first-time founders and those who are building a product. What the best part of it is that we all get to connect once a week with something interesting to interact with. Members or subscribers don’t directly engage with each other but are provided with valuable information and they don’t have to be active every day.

2. Build the community only for your product users (and not for everyone)

If you’re building something and you want only the users that use your product to join the community. Most early-stage startups do this to get initial feedback and directly interact with the users. The members of such communities are usually the most active users of the product.

They either create a channel on existing platforms or build their own internally. This also helps the product grow because FOMO and exclusivity is what people attract fast (if you don’t know about Clubhouse).

3. Build-in public

For brands, it’s more important to be in touch with their users and audience to see where the product is leading and if it’s actually helpful to them. Building in public is a great way to open up transparency, attract them from the early stage, market the product before it’s launched and build a connection with the users.

4. Once a month community

Host once a month in-person or virtual meetups, events, hackathons or group sessions. For these, people will usually take out time from their schedules and actually engage. They won’t feel forced to be active on some app and keep up with the talk.

Members actually enjoy such things. They get to not only know your brand but also find others with the same interests that can open up new opportunities for them and you might get a few more customers.

Community is not only about brands taking all the benefits or just opening a new Slack channel. The people who are becoming a part of it has their own motive & reasons to join which they’ll find in your community.

So, take some time & think about what value are you offering to your community and what can help you stay connected with them for the long run.

Connect with me on Twitter 🐦

👋 PS: Want angel investment or help with product strategy? Let’s talk. If you enjoyed this post, read the past issues here. I have also created this curated resources for first-time founders + founder’s guide to community building.

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