How to Build a Great Online Community

Word of mouth and a personal invitation will always draw people.

It worked for Jesus.

For years we’ve been going about it all wrong, thinking that if we just had a better picture or more words or a racier ad that the throngs would come and worship at our feet. Not so. Kindness is the key. Kindness goes deeper and wider and higher, and when individuals of those same throngs are kind to one another, it’s called community.

 God creates men, but they choose each other. ~ Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 – 1527), quoted in O Magazine, November 2003

 Peek, for example, at temporarily unemployed Joe Schmoe. He’s lamenting his lack of work and posts about yet another failed job application to his 500 Facebook friends. Within minutes his friend Rick suggests and links to a book on magical resumes, while his other friend Jack comments about the online group he joined for tobacco chewers and tags Joe on a picture of a happy man chewing his new stash. An hour later, Nancy messages him to let him know there’s an opening at the local bread store and links him to its job application page. All three interactions happen in a short space of time, and all three might lead to Joe putting an incredible resume together, joining the tobacco chewers’ group, and failing his interview because he spat his tobacco into the interviewer’s trashcan on the way out.

Word of mouth and a personal invitation….

So how do you invite people to choose your service and/or product and invite all their friends? How do you build your own successful online community?

With kindness. Let’s say that you decide to blog about duct tape every three days, and in one of those posts you talk lovingly about your addiction to polka dots and how excited you are that you can now buy duct tape with polka dots. You start a thread in your forum for polka dot lovers. You pin photos of your polka dot bags on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon and WordPress  (all with a link back to your site, of course). You encourage visitors to come to your site and stay a while, to chime in and post links to bags they made with polka dot tape. You follow their links and comment back. You encourage
them all to do the same. You build your community.

 Soon people are staying on your site getting to know each other, and for every extra second they are on, they can see more of what you have to offer. Soon your little site has a recognized brand name, and some of the family (no longer visitors) will hang out on your forum all day because they can’t imagine anything more lively than to talk about sticky polka dots ad nauseum. You win.

If you want to build a great community, it starts with you.

Interact with every person you meet online.
See the beauty in everyone and remark on it.
Be kind.

Which really means build it by being like Jesus and they will come … hmm….

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2 Comments

  • Miles says:

    And then some moron tries to sue you for infringing their copyright by having the phrase “duct tape” in your site name.

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