Startup traction channel: community building



Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting book has “community building” as one of the traction channels and this is the subject of this blog post (build from this week’s edition of the newsletter – 3ThingsThisWeek).

Community building involves investing in the connections among your users, fostering those relationships and helping them bring more people into your startup’s circle. These people are known as evangelists – passionate users who tell others about how awesome a product is.

Chris McCann (of Startup Digest) talked about the types of companies that will benefit from community building: “Companies whose core function is the connecting of people are best set up to take advantage of the community. Whether that’s a trade show thing, an investment thing, whatever: when a company’s underlying value is in bringing people together, and where people matter in the system, that’s where this community stuff can really take off.”

Key to a strong community is cultivating and empowering evangelists. You also want to foster cross-connection among evangelists and community members in general (through forums, events, etc.). Community building can give you traction by magnifying your essential purpose, building a core asset, creating evangelists for your service, contributing to product development and even giving you a hiring pool.

The simplest and most valuable thing you’ll get from a community is highly engaged customers or users. This high engagement leads to the rest of the benefits…

Thing # 1: How to successfully build a community around your startup

A community doesn’t have to be as concrete as you think it is. It doesn’t have to be a forum, discussion board or comments section, or a social network. It doesn’t even have to be on your own site. It can be very informal. A great example of that and one we’ve all witnessed has been Ryan when building Product Hunt. It’s been talked a lot before, but it came down to Ryan personally engaging with Product Hunt’s users on Twitter and inviting product makers when their products appeared on the site. You can turn a following like this into a community. The advantage to a community is that it sticks a lot longer than press coverage. And if you keep your community engaged, and they remain interested in what you’re doing, it’ll stick. And that community can be turned into users for whatever product you want to push at that moment. That’s the magic of it. Read this article to know how Nomad List was launched and build using community building.

Thing # 2: Why Slack is Exploding as a Community-Building Platform

There’s no question that workplace communication is Slack’s sweet spot, enabling faster and easier internal collaboration between groups of all sizes. But there’s another use case Slack empowers, one that’s gaining traction and helping drive growth: hosting communities. Rather than host a forum or digital community themselves, or use social media platforms to engage, many community managers are turning to Slack as a place to quickly and easily build tight-knit communities. Slack has emerged as a powerful tool to host and build communities and this article will tell you how you can also do it.

Thing # 3: An Unfiltered Look at How to Launch a New Community

This article brings you a journey of mapping out the strategy, testing assumptions and launching what will hopefully be a thriving community. The first step in launching a new community is to define your assumptions and put together your plan. To do this, a tool – Community Canvas, a framework is used as step one when putting together a community strategy. It’s like a business model canvas, but for your community. Like a business model canvas, the community canvas too has 9 blocks. And once the plan is put together to get this community off the ground, you start testing your assumptions through research, and by actually launching the thing to see how members respond. An interesting framework to launch and build a community, using lean startup principles! Anyone wants to try it out?

Do you want to explore using this traction channel – community building, for your startup? I would be happy to help out, drop in a line to start a conversation about it.