Now let's get started
Do I really need to build a community for my business?
Before starting to build a community for your business, this is the first thing you should ask yourself as this would help you understand why you are choosing to build a community around your business. In order to arrive at the answer, I suggest you look at the following parameters:
Nature of Business:
Is there an organic community behavior in my targeted user segment?
For example, Book clubs are already a popular way for book readers to engage with each other. Therefore, bringing that onto a platform is relatively straightforward.
Does the value that gets created by user interaction fit into my business model?
If my users engage with each other, by what factor would the value of my product/service increase for new and existing users?
For example, Strava and Peloton, both help you get fitter, however, Strava chose to do so via a community-first approach, whereas Peloton did not.
Objective for creating a community:
What benefit would my business get if I get my users to engage with each other?
This is a great question to ask especially if you already have a product-market fit.
Example: If I have a D2C company selling feminine hygiene products, I am in a pure e-commerce business where I can survive without building a community.
However, if I want to drive conversations on my brand’s theme by getting my users to engage with each other. This would help the business with its marketing and branding goals.
How do I start building a community for my business?
Once you have clarity on the purpose that a community of your users would serve to your business, you can take a more informed approach on whether you would want to:
Build the community integrated into your product OR
On 3rd party platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, Discord, slack etc.
Note: You should choose option A ONLY if building a community is critical to your business model.
Now let’s analyze how to start building a community through the AARRR framework shared by Dave McClure.
Build and Transform your Audience to Community: If you don’t know the “unit of value” (UoV) that your target users want to engage with each other on, then -
Build an audience
Observe & shortlist various types of UoV that your audience likes to consume (signals are likes, comments, views, etc.)
From the shortlist, experiment with asking your audience to produce that UoV
For the UoV, you get regular production from your audience, use that to start building your community around.
Example: Say you want to build a community of recruiters.
You can start by creating content that would attract recruiters to follow you on social channels.
Then you can check what kind of content they are liking/commenting the most on. Say, for example, they do so on posts about interview questions.
You can then run a few campaigns where you ask them to share their favorite interview questions.
If you see good participation from this audience on a regular basis, then you know that you can build a community where the UoV is “interview questions” that will be produced and consumed by the members.
Leverage Adjacent communities by providing interactions over a unique UoV If there are already existing communities around your target user segment, then:
Build a reputation by producing value to the members there.
Observe and identify a gap around the kind of UoV that members are engaging on
Start building a community by inviting members to another community to engage on the identified UoV. Example: Say you want to build a community of runners.
You can join various running-related communities on Linkedin, Fb, etc.
Then you identified that members love to share and engage on their running maps and the views that come along the way.
You can then create an app for the community, which makes it easier for the members to record their runs with the views and share with each other.
You can start sharing the link for your running maps and photos in these communities, inviting the members to get on your app and increase your community.
Once a user has decided to join your community, you want to get them to consume or produce the UoV of the community as soon as possible, so that they get vested in the community right away. This can be achieved in a few ways:
Get them to introduce themselves to other members of the community
Get them to produce a UoV
Get them to share their preferences and provide them with relevant UoV produced by other members so that they can signal via likes/comments/shares that they find value in it.
If the members continue to produce and consume value, then retention will come as a by-product. Retention is directly proportional to the “Health” of the community, which I have discussed in detail in the next section below.
Members usually refer new members to a community if they are deriving a lot of value from it, which motivates them to bring in more individuals that share their common interests so that the value of the community further increases. This also increases their reputation in the community. Therefore, a key thing to keep in mind while creating a referral program is to connect it with a reputation boost for the referrer.
Note: Depending on the common interest graph that the community is centered around, members may not be motivated to refer the community to new members.
Communities built around sensitive topics like mental health, etc. typically show low referral behavior.
Therefore, this part of the framework is subjective and you should focus on it only if it aligns with your community’s interest.
There are many interesting ways to monetize. We will discuss this in the next blog. Also, revenue opportunities are usually explored at a later stage when the community has crossed a critical number of members that display power usage.
Measuring the health of the community:
At its core, a community is all about its users communicating with each other. This means a community is healthy when: (let's take Strava as an example where UoV is a run map)
UoV produced increases: If the number of run maps created increases, this indicates a strong engagement by its community members.
UoV consumed increases: If the number of likes/comments per member increases, this indicates that its members are finding great value from the community.
Low friction to become a producer: The lower the number of steps required to produce a run map by it’s member, the more number of members will be able to produce a run map, which sets the growth flywheel in forwarding motion.
High liquidity: Less time taken for a produced UoV to be consumed: The lower the time taken for a produced run map to get a view/like from other members, the faster the producing member gets rewarded and motivated to produce more.
Net Value Score (better than NPS): Usually, for products/services, the Net promoter score (NPS) which indicates how likely a user is to refer the product to more users, is a great indicator of how much value the user is getting from the product or service. However, for communities, a better metric is Net Value Score, which indicates how much value on a scale of 10 a member is getting from the community, as depending on the common interest graph around which the community is centered, members may not be willing to refer new members to it. Example: Communities around mental health, exclusive investment opportunities, gender topics, etc.
In part 4 of this series, we'll discuss how you can monetize your community.
If you enjoyed this series of blogs, please do DM me here