A Question About “The 3 Most Important Keys to Building a Community”

This began as a question on Quora, which is: “What are the three most important things to focus on in building an online community? I am interested in your views in how to make it exclusive, relevant and sticky.”

There are some other good answers to that post, which you can read here on Quora

I’ve posted my response to on Quora to that question, but have expanded here, since I find it a very interesting and relevant topic.

My opinion is that the key is to you invest yourself in the community.  Being “exclusive, relevant, and ‘sticky'” may be goals, but are they what is right for the community?

If you want 3 things…be present and passionate, provide great content, foster great discussions.

I don’t know what your community is like or about…but “exclusive”, “relevant” and “sticky” can be at odds with each other. You can’t force a community, foster what your members are doing/discussing and let it grow organically. The community should be able to demonstrate what the keys to helping it grow are.

An analogy would be you are the gardener and the community is your apple tree. You need to feed it, water it, nurture it, and be patient….and it will bear good fruit. You can’t take that apple tree, give it “orange tree super growth food”, and hope to get oranges.

Another great response came from Evan Hamilton (of UserVoice) who is one of the bright minds in community management, who wrote: “Look at the types of conversations this community is currently having and think about how you can augment and support them, not how you can contain them. That’s the road to success.”

It’s important to remember that when you build or grow a community that unless you are a celebrity like Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk), the community isn’t about you.  Even at my company, our community has a focus of our product, but really that is just the gateway to get users talking to each other, helping each other, coming up with great ideas and great feedback, etc.


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