Since starting Product Club, I've entered yet another unknown realm with vast rabbit holes of knowledge. Growing a community. What I lack in experience, I can at least make up in desire to not make the same mistakes that have been committed in the past. To give it the best chance of success I spoke to some people who have succeeded and failed at fostering a community. Three reoccurring themes emerged, and led me to these four guiding principles:
- The value comes from the community, not you. Be an enabler of that value.
- Just like offline communities, people come for the event and stick around for the people. Make the event worth coming to, then get out of the way.
- As the community grows, the network effect grows more powerful. However, there is a tipping point where a community becomes so vast it must be lead - lest it descends into chaos (or a self-promotion hub). Deliberately keeping the community small is a considerate thing to do, as it makes it more valuable to those who need it most.
- Async beats sync. The immediateness of instant messaging conversations works for work-based communities. However, learning based communities benefit more from long-form async discussions. It’s easy to get lost in frenetic messaging threads, whereas forum threads are more easily consumed and discovered.
So in a nutshell, the principles for Product Club are: The value comes from the community, the event is the purpose, and like a good stew, keep the community numbers low and conversation slow.