Product Hunt Daily Digest
September 2nd, 2020

Communities are having a moment
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Humans are social by nature.

Just like back in the 90s, online communities are having a moment right now. AIM, MSN Messenger, IRC, anyone?

In this socially-distant time, people desperately need to close that gap and connect with like-minded peers.

“Community is the new moat,” claims First Round in their 2019 State of Startups report.

Of course communities don’t appear out of nowhere. It takes thoughtful, intentional effort.

Why create a community?

Community is such a buzzword nowadays. And while it can be very impactful when done right, not every project or business needs a community strategy.

But those who build a strong community tend to benefit in a number of ways: Increased WOM, greater loyalty, and a stronger relationship with users of the product. More importantly, users benefit most when there’s a strong sense of belonging and mutual understanding.

Some of this translates into more active contributions from the community itself. Facebook famously activated community volunteers to translate the site to over 100 languages.

How do you build a community?

This is a long conversation that we won’t fully cover in today’s digest, but below are a few tips.

First, start small and focus on a specific audience. The more defined the community, the easier it is to build for their needs and expectations.

Next, involve the community in the process. In the early days of Product Hunt we “built in public”, sharing mockups and our roadmap to gather the community’s feedback well before writing code. Not only does this lead to better product decisions, but it engenders more trust and buy-in with the people that care most about what you’re building.

“Communities feel magical, but they don't appear out of nowhere. Just as when you’re building a fire, there are certain ingredients you need to assemble and an order of operations you need to follow to generate a spark, fan the flames, and keep it going,” says Bailey Richardson, early Instagram community manager and author of Get Together.

What do you use to build a community?

Although tools won’t build a community, there are plenty of useful options to bring your community together.

Here are some tools to consider:

Circle is the recently launched modern creator-focused community platform to help you bring together your discussions, memberships, and content, all under your own brand.

Disciple lets you gather, engage, and monetize your network with your own community platform.

PeerBoard is a modern community platform designed to live as an organic part of your existing website or product. You can even embed it into any website.

Mighty Networks is a new kind of website builder that enables you to bring your community, online courses, and memberships together in one place.

Discourse positions its open-source platform as a civilized discussion board for your community.

Spectrum fills in a void between Github and Slack, as described by the community member and allows you to join, start, and build online communities.

Comradery is a fully customizable online community platform that provides both threaded discussions and real-time chat.

If you’re serious about starting a community, check out Community Canvas, a framework to build meaningful communities, and The CMX Guide to Building Community Platforms.
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