One of the articles from this week had a quote that really stuck with me. “You can’t spark a community by wanting to spark a community no more than you could start a fire by wanting to start a fire.” You can’t just decide you want a community. You need to know why you’re starting one and who you’re dealing with before you can eventually gather the wood to make it happen. There are a few key factors that should be considered when starting a community from the ground and building it to become something great.
Have a Plan
As stated earlier, you really need to be prepared. First, you have to determine if your brand or product (or topic) is even meant to have a community surrounding it. It very well may be that your community is better left as a two way conversation rather than a group of people with common interests. Once you determine if a community is right for you, you have to decide what type of community you will be. This includes all aspects of planning including where your community will exist, how will it work, how often you will post, who your members are, what type of responsibility they will have, and what you will focus your content on.
There are so many factors that go into making a community great, and it’s really important to keep them in mind from the very beginning. An article I found on my own talked about that. Read more here!
Know Your Audience
This is arguably the most important factor in starting a community from scratch. You have to truly understand the audience to determine how to cater to them. According to Buzzing Communities, “the community serves to improve the lives of its members”. Without an audience, your community is nothing—in fact, it’s not even a community! Knowing your audience means:
- Understanding the demographic. Where are they located? How old are they? What do they do for a living? In other words, who are these people?! Determining a demographic is essential to figuring out what the community is going to be like. It helps determine what type of content you’ll be posting as well as how it will be presented.
- Understanding their habits. Once you’ve figured out your demographic, you have to get to know them personally. What Internet tools do they use? How often are they online? What do they do when they’re online? This allows you to create habits and a schedule based on theirs. Once you track activity, you can find peak hours of engagement and know when to strike!
- Understanding their wants/needs. Buzzing Communities says, “a community manager does not change someone’s values or attitudes. Community managers identify what people are interested in and build a community around those interests.” This is very important. You can’t tell people how to think or feel, but you can cater your information and content to how they feel.
Build it Brick By Brick
How can you gather this information? It’s easier than you think! When you’re just starting out as a new community, getting to know your members is crucial. You have to take it one person at a time. You can learn more about them by talking to them personally! Of course, you can use metrics and analytics to gather information, but
why not talk to people one-on-one? If you actually interview your first few members, you can gather a sample for your target audience and use it to make goals! For example, you need to know your audience and look at each individually to understand what type of role they will play in the community. Will they be posting content or simply responding to posts and activity? Are some of them potential moderators?
It’s not going to be easy! Being a Community Manager is a 24/7 job, and, especially when starting out, it’s going to take a lot of time, energy, and dedication.