How do you build a virtual community?

Sam Bauer
32 replies
We are preparing our product launch and I am a bit of a newbie when it comes to building a virtual community. Do you know the problem? A few questions: - Which channels do you use? (Twitter, PH, ...) - How many channels? - How do you attract followers? - Are there cool tricks and methods? - How many followers should you have in the different channels at least? Or if you have different things to say, please tell me.

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All good questions - and ones I don't necessarily have good answers too! I think finding a couple channels you like, posting regularly, providing helpful feedback etc. is a good way to start. Excited to see what other people say.
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@katie_ames thank you Katie... for me it's a hard time - I even started twittering, but with 50 followers it's quite challenging, when I see how successful many people are
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Building Clapup.me
@katie_ames @timz_flowers Did you tried following people which is of your target prospects?
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@katie_ames @sreekanth850 yes, that was my first strategy, simply follow interesting people, but also others in order to see what people are posting and talking and then to react on it.
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Brazilian guy working with tech
@katie_ames @timz_flowers It depends on your goal, but I think if you're aiming to build a community you should pick a channel that it's easy for people to communicate among themselves. It's good to have a way to broadcast messages but lateral conversations between members is really important. And I feel it's also important to work towards tightening the community instead of just growing it. A strong small 100/200 people community can sometimes be more valiable than 1000 loose individuals. Disclaimer: I'm not a specialist and I haven't created one myself, altough I've participated in some. Most of these ideas are from Seth Godin's book Tribes
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Community @Genies 👽🅰️🖖
Be authentic~ share what you love and engage with members in communities that you want to be in. Echoing @katie_ames participating in channels you like and being active is a great start. The # of followers really depends on your goals. Having a couple hundred-1K really engaged and active followers will typically be more fruitful vs have 10K-100K disengaged members who came for a freebie.
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@katie_ames @gabe__perez thank you Gabe, encouraging for me as the numbers are not too high :-)
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1.find the channel which has most of user. 2.build a group 3.create relationship of them
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@jiebu_li Hey Jiebu, thanks for your tips!!
Community & branding enthusiast
I totally agree with the previous comments and just want to add a few points: 1) Show your appreciation: every time you receive feedback - make sure to show that it's important for you. 2) Analyze the user's preferences and behavior - first few months you'll change the plan numerous times because your users will give you some great insights (make sure to notice them 😅 ). 3) And don't be afraid to start with, for example, 30 users, as long as they are involved and active, they are priceless. 4) Always ask yourself a question: how this content will benefit my users, why should they read/follow it - because sometimes we're more concentrated on quantity rather than quality.
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@olha_trykush great answer, thanks. Yes, I'm trying to follow that path already. To be honest, it gives me some nice feelings, this communication with people in a friendly and supportive manner, esp. here in PH. In twitter it's at the moment much more anonymous and difficult to find a style - I hope I will manage to do. I sometimes feel a bit empty after a social media session, as if I have tricked my psyche with emotions, but without really seeing the people I communicate with, as if nothing real has left. It has an emotional upside in the moment of doing, but also a downside later coming back into the real world.
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Community & branding enthusiast
@timz_flowers People are more open for communication than you can even imagine, remember this and don't worry - you'll meet so many great people, it worth to give it a try:)
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@olha_trykush well, I do :)
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Founder, NorthStories.io
Your thought process is a good starting point. My one advice: heavily invest in an existing community. Could be Twitter, PH, an FB group, a subreddit, etc... Spend the time to read. Allow yourself to be influenced. Reply. Upvote. Share content that resonates. Send DMs if appropriate. After investing many hours participating genuinely, you'll develop a better understanding and ask different questions. You'll find that it's not so scalable (at least at first). There's no push-button solution. As a genuine community member, you'll spot spam, befriend admins, develop authentic connections, etc. P.S. The closest thing to a push-button solution would be to pay for ads to invite members. But even that won't work without already having some real sense of community.
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@allancaeg Hi Allan, thanks for that reply, it confirms my assumptions very well. So in summary it's simply much work and I have to go through it. But fine, let's do it :-). A technical question, is there a way to send DMs here in PH? Simply did not find it yet.
Building products in Bordeaux, France.
I think what you're doing right now by posting this message is the kind of approach you should have with your community. And I actually think we are probably becoming a part of your community by answering your post ;) However, I would ask myself the following question: what is my goal behind creating this community? - Showcase your product for your launch? - Get feedback? - Get advice? I will assume what you want is to get trafic to your website and have a great launch for your product. If this is the case, maybe consider Quora as a community? Also, I believe it is useless to try and post everywhere. That's not the right way to build communities and you'll quickly be considered an outsider. You should focus on channels that you know well and post quality content. If you just copy/paste the same posts everywhere, you'll get nowhere. Adapt yourself to the channel, and if you don't have time to deliver quality content to that channel, then don't post anything.
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@thomas_jacquesson1 Hi Thomas, well put, you caught me red-handed.... my approach is simple: talk honestly with people about questions that drive me anyway around as a first step to create an initial community. Simultaneously we are constantly improving the product, testing it with ourselves and a hopefully slowly growing circle of users from outside. There will be a moment in time, when we will have reached some convincing KPIs, e.g. satisfactory retention and adoption rates, and a raising viral coefficient, to bring product and community together, in order to create enough critical mass to attract wider circles. I'm really thankful to this open minded community here, where people are interested in new products and their makers. It's such a crazy enterprise to build a new software product against all odds. without communities like this, I would have no idea how to launch it. I think from an evolutionary standpoint this community fulfils an enormously important role in enabling new products and accelerating innovation. Thanks to all of you.
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Co-Founder of We Are The Luminous
Totally ditto all the above comments. When trying to build a community and increase engagement you need to be authentic, don't be too sales, ask questions and more often than not be relatable - tell people your failures and problems and how you've overcome them. Talk about what you are into, how you spend your spare time, a little bit more personal info and this will attract your ideal client and make you more human.
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@helen_hoile . Thank you Helen, I'm was always a bit shy when it comes to showing my private and authentic me, because I see in media all of these unbelievably smart people with their overwhelming multitude of intelligent postings, that it's not so easy to contribute with something of unique value. now I started even tweeting (52 followers yeah!!) - interesting process to find an inner attitude and role and to adjust my brain to creating something that could be interesting for others (esp. as I'm not a native speaker). as you said, authenticity is perhaps the only remedy to find this role, so I write something that fascinates and surprises at least myself in the hope someone else will join in somehow. thereby I also have to find the intersection between my private person and the representative of the organisation I want to erect. sometimes my private person tends to be too political than it's perhaps adequate in business context. So authenticity has perhaps its limits too. But it's a very interesting process and I think it will change me. I feel like a shy person stepping into the light for the first time.
Co-Founder of We Are The Luminous
I'll have to start following you on twitter! I think there's a fine line between over sharing and being too business like. I always try to avoid political chat on business channels, that always gets me in trouble! I believe everyone has something valuable to say so never be afraid to speak up :)
Founder | feral.ai | canopi.app
Hey! in my view it's essential to be authentic. therefore you really need to know and live your vision, purpose and values. building a community requires a figurehead to gather around, so you need to develop your personal brand alongside your business brand. you need to always be consistent to your values. clearly and specifically define your customers and pick 1-2 channels to focus on.
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@adam_james_feralai Hi Adam, wow, good points you're raising. Who am I and what's my personal brand? At the moment I'm still hiding behind the logo, perhaps because it's already hard enough to build the brand community and I would not have the time and power to make the same thing again for my personal brand - esp. as I don't know what this exactly is. Perhaps the one thing will come with the other, some kind of twisting two things into each other and at the very moment I'm starting the brand appearance. When the product helps me, I will appear perhaps more as a private person too. But I think you're right, your answer is very inspiring - I feel this spins my understanding of the process already a bit.
Founder | feral.ai | canopi.app
in my experience establishing the foundation for the personal brand has been integral to establishing the foundation of the company brand. but this is from the position of a startup founder and my leadership style is very much about leading from the front. I was talking to a fellow founder just the other day about this. this founder was trying to offer heaps of UVPs to all these different customer segments. When you try to be everything for everyone you become nothing for no one. My advice is to do the following: 1- find your personal purpose >> what is the most important thing in the world to you which, after you and your family are gone, you want to be included in the state of the world. 2- contextualise your purpose with your personal >> values, style, beliefs 3- then work out your personal how >> what is the medium you choose for your life's work? this is distinct from your purpose. it becomes your domain from which you operate. 4- now lets declare your 'what'. what problem you are solving? what job are you doing? what solution are you offering? 5- now you can bring it all together and you have your brand personality, your customer and your content. 6- all that's left is to choose your channels. all this takes is simply invert what you have already done by empathising with your customers. 'if I was person XXX and I had this problem, when would I be thinking about this problem? what would I be doing? where would I be doing it? how would I deal with it? would I want to solve it? how would I search for solutions? 7- and now working backwards >> I'm person XXX what am I doing when I'm not having the problem? what am I doing just before I have the problem ? why am I doing this thing? what am I doing a day before? why am I doing this? 8- finally. where is the opportunities for overlap between your brand identify & message and the value which person XXX gets from doing the things leading up to having the problem which is what you solve? bonus points: 9- deeply and thoroughly map your customers life cycle with empathy. through acquisition, onboarding, using your product and churn. How do you achieve value from the relationship (usually this is how you make money)? how do you maximise value? what is the point at which your customer will convert to deliver maximum value to you - the AHA moment for your product? can you get your customer to that point quicker? 10 - now add network effect >> are there opportunities for your customer to share their success of using your product with their peer network? can they do so in a way that naturally converts their peers to use your product? this creates the viral loops I hope this provides some insight and you get some value from this. good luck.
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@adam_james_feralai Hi Adam, great, this looks already like the outline for an ebook about that topic. Intuitively I'm following some of these strategies, it's so much work and success is not guaranteed esp. as this is a many years long process. Nothing to shoot off from the hip. But I think I have to change the focus a bit now. 1-4 has been defined over the last 10 years already. The rest I started also, but now I've to bring more energy to your 5-10 items. I think it is also a question of virtuosity and luck, how you do all of these things and if you are lucky enough to find a supportive community with quick feedback loops to iterate your strategies, artefacts and values. Thank you, this was an energising and very detailed feedback. I'm sure more people will get benefit from it!
Founder
Hey Sam! So right now I'm studying this topic too myself. I've been studying many brands for a while, and personally I feel like Frank Body (coffee scrub brand) had a good approach. In an interview 2 of the founders explained how they wanted to get more people to use their product on a daily basis (turn it into a habit), so they created a challenge and opened a FB group. Customers joined the group and started discussing about different things with each othet and encouraging each other. So it worked for them! I also know that Sephora has a built in forum on their site. I also know that Glossier is a master when it comes to community as it's one of their basic values. I haven't studied much about them but if you want to learn more I would definitely check them out!
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@sharon_cohen2 Hey Sharon, I will study these cases as far as possible. Thank you for the tips!
Luck is a residue of design
Thats a great question and something I asked myself as I started my journey building this app. First, create your own page or group and start posting content, even if no one follows your or has joined. Once you have enough content start joining already existing groups in your niche. Now the hard part comes with joining these without the obvious intent of selling. You have to understand the channel you're using as well as that existing communities culture. If youre familiar with Reddit, you know if dont come correct and just start spamming, you will get crucified and eventually banned. Its about being authentic and actually engaged. It will take time and you need to build trust and bring value and slowly but surely as you drop subtle references to your group people will begin to show up.
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@mata_mokwala would you recommend reddit for community building? Here on PH everybody knows that marketing a product is part of my journey, in reddit people are more genuinely interested in topics, so I assume there you have to work with generic content about the wider topic of your product? A bit like in twitter, right? There it's also more about topics of general interest, what is not so easy to deliver, because I have to define the wider field of interest around my product, without being too narrow and then perhaps boring for a wider audience, but also not losing the connection to the product entirely (or is this already a bad assumption?). Defining the wider context is challenging. An example: We are developing an AI-driven, time-independent remote meeting tool. We decided last year that digital nomads are part of our natural target group, but not only them, all corporates and organisations will be part of it. So the freedom of movement of individuals is indeed part of our brand values - remote meetings are freeing up peoples movement capacities and we are supporting them. But this is a wider topic and touches all the questions of migration. How far are we willing to sit with our company in the nexus of this discussion and in what manner will we do it? On a personal level I have the conviction that we should prepare our legislations and economies in a positive way for more migration, esp. because climate change will increase migration in future and everybody can be hit by it, as we see in California at the moment. So this provides more safety for everybody. Is this a possible brand position? I would say yes, but I would stay away from heated discussions and always keep a calm voice and perspective. Ha, mata, thank you for this discussion, I'm really learning while listening and talking to you.
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@mata_mokwala my questions is, how do you connect a reddit community to your product?
Luck is a residue of design
@timz_flowers Based on your target market of digital nomads as well as corporate entities and organizations, I would say focus on Linkedin and Instagram as a start. Definitely Linkedin because that is clearly where all the professionals are. You can create a Linkedin page, join relevant groups, start posting content there while on your personal page that is relevant to your product and eventually start running ads against individuals in a sector that you think would benefit from your product the most. The digital nomads is definitely going to be a instagram thing. The language and aesthetic have to be different in order to capture a large audience, but it is something you can do.
Luck is a residue of design
@timz_flowers Join subreddits like around business, small business, entrepreneur, work from home, etc and start post and sharing some stuff, after awhile just ask people in the group if they can tell you if your product is cool or not. If you come from a humble place and are not spammy, you can get the right feedback.
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@mata_mokwala hey great tipps, thanks - I'm in linkedIn already, but I think I can do better there