Establishing and building a community around a common interest is hard.
After exhausting your network of friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc – the only way of getting new folks into the community is to aggressively campaign and advertise to them.
Let’s say you’re a technical user group (like a couple of the ones I’m a part of). And every month you have about 5-7 folks who show up on the Appointed Dayâ„¢ for the regular meetup. You can either be satisfied on the size of the group, or you can try to grow it.
Growing it, however, is never easy: there are scheduling conflicts, personality clashes, lack of contacts, etc.
What are the best ways – or even just “ways”, ditch the “best” – of growing a community after you have gone through everyone you know?
Comments on “community building is hard”
A couple of thoughts as I’m waiting for breakfast to digest… That one can be a toughie… especially if said community’s interest is either specific (e.g. a LUG that restricts itself to Mint only) or ‘niche’ (a group for fans of WordPerfect for DOS 5.1 Â«grinÂ»). However, with the world-wide connections we have these days, it’s easier than it used to be.
One thing I’d suggest is finding similar groups in other cities/regions and getting the word out that you exist. There’s always the possibility that someone from that area may transplant to your area. Or someone from your area stumbled across that other group in an Internet search and doesn’t know there’s a local group available.
If the community in question’s interest aren’t as specific or niche as my examples above, there’s always the possibility of holding a Big Eventâ„¢ â€” especially if there’s other groups in the region that share similar interests. You could try having a regional event in that case.
I suppose you could go remote communities, such as discussion boards, social network groups, etc. that are exclusively online. If you want more personal interaction, perhaps a hybrid of virtual/physical meetups would work. Have people in each local area gather in the appointed place, and set up video conferencing with other places in the same geographic region, but too far out to be considered “local”. That opens the door for bigger, more infrequent “regional” events, while making it easier for people to participate regularly. Plus, if you want to join but can’t (for scheduling reasons) join in at the assigned location, you can sign in from elsewhere. Some recording means you can view it later if remote participation isn’t an option. Couple that with some discussion boards, and you make it even harder for interested parties to be completely left out.
remote communities are a great idea … but I think you still have the problem of promotion and engagement: how do you get people to join/participate in the community?
That’s really what I’m trying to figure out 🙂
I guess the questions to ask is “Where are these people now, and why are they there instead of 1 of the other places on the list?” You need something different about any community you’re building that makes it stand out from the rest of the list. More importantly, you need something that solves common problems all of these other places the people you want for your community are already hanging out.
If you have something about the community you’re building that jumps out as “Holy crap! Why don’t the communities I’m currently in have this?”, that can at least people to come kick some tires and try it out, maybe for a day or two, That means you’re community needs an *awesome* user experience, to keep them there, or at least encourage the more timid of their existing communities to give it a whirl. Ideally, that’ll enough to get people to start thinking of your community as they’re go-to community.
so .. where do the “Holy crap!” ideas come from?
I know Agocs used to call me “The Idea Guy” back at the Elon ACM .. but those “ideas” never seemed to go far, either 🙁
Any thought you have while dealing with the pain points of existing communities I would imagine.
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