Community & Crowd -ExO Attribute
If only I had a community of fanatic fans, like DeWALT does...
Community & Crowd is one of the attributes described by the book (and movement) Exponential Organizations' that helps organizations to reach an abundance of contributors, users, supporters or followers without actually hiring them.
The DIY Drones community counting 86.000+ members is an example from the book Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail and one case taken from the above book is about a $4M Predator military drone that got a DIY cousin with a $300 price tag and with 98% similarity to the military version (only the weapon systems were missing).
Chris Anderson who founded the community says
"If you build communities and you do things in public, you don't have to find people. They find you...".
People join communities for the ideas -but they stay for the emotions.
Every organization who wants to reach an audience of any type for any purpose should consider searching for -and eventually build their own community.
The following is a 9-step high-level plan for building a community. It can only work through experimentation. Every segment and member type has their own intentions, needs, visions and purpose. Find out what really works for your members and use the following guideline as principles rather than a full recipe.
Let me know what you learn from using the guideline. Here we go.
- Establish the identity of Your Community by creating a 'Massive Transformative Purpose'. You can hear more about what an MTP is here by Peter Diamandis: https://youtu.be/nrr0Gq65yGQ . This will be the "magnet" that attracts the "right" community members who share your passion in the topic of your community.
- Get started designing a community portal/platform/channel. Can be any type of online channel where your community members can meet. In the early stages it can be as simple as a WhatsApp or Facebook group. Later you can make more advanced and customized based on what your community really wants and needs. Run experiments in your community to learn about their needs and build only when you have validated your hypothesis about the funtions to introduce. Get started by simply enabling online communication and remember that authenticity matters!
- Resources- Plan for the resources you need for building the community. What do you need right away to get started, what do you need to create content, to keep communicating, to grow the engagement level among the community members and drive growth?
- Accept your early days! The bigger the community gets, the less people typically contributes actively. Expect 1-10% (max) being active contributors. The rest will usually remain passive but hopefully good consumers of your content -and they might throw a like or share after some of your best! Always aim at having few but really committed and passionate core community members. When you do, you should nurture them and do everything for them. Hand pick them as you try to get started, create rituals that will help them feel at home in your community and keep coming back to the conversations. Listen to them always. Big brands keep discovering user communities they never knew about. Imagine the ideas and product use-case knowledge DeWalt can explore in their very dedicated communities of tatoo'ed power tool users if they want to.
- Create Content -Passionate community members will help you create your content. But you must get the ball rolling. Future events, written content of all sorts, activities, news, interviews, advice, guest blogging or..? What would your community love to access? Ask them or experiment in other ways to find out. A quiet, empty community channel or platform is as interesting to visit as an empty corridor in a hospital
- Engagement: Bridging your members is extremely critical for a community to be born. People join communities for the ideas (the Massive Transformative Purpose) but they stay for the emotions". Everything from low-friction retweets of member tweets to other ways of showing social proof and bringing the interesting work of individual community members to the attention of others are some ways to create engagement. Deep engagement demands rapid experimentation to learn which engagement strategy that works the best for your community
- Managing your community: Be the dictator- Communities can contribute, can co-ideate and collaborate...but decisions are hard to make and the community easily gets messy. So a firm hand at steering the community is needed. Do not get tempted to spread your product marketing campaign in the community. People come for the purpose. Not for the product. Take it easy and let things grow. Retention matters!
- Driving Growth: People want to talk to each other and learn from each other. Get them connected in a "tribe". No growth will take place without the Massive Transformative Purpose of your community and no growth if the members cannot get in touch with each other
- Monetization. Be transparent about the commercial plans for this community. How will you make money from it (if you plan to) and how can each member make money from it? Sell what the community builds and carer to the core of the community