Give Me 3 Minutes — And I’ll tell you how to build an engaged online community

The Circle, c.1884 by Camille Pissarro

“Ali, I wanna delete my Subreddit.” Alex (a friend of mine) said.

“What? Why? you told me you love it.” I said.

“Yeah…I was, but you know, nobody gives a shit,” My friends answered. “My subreddit has 230 members and after 5 months, I’m the only active member. WTF is going on?!”

“Why nobody is active there?” I said.

“I dunno man, I just, I just thought peeps love meditation, so I created this subreddit, but…” Alex said. “…anyway, what do you think? What’s the problem?”

“Well…umm…this is a very good question,” I said.

Sometimes you’ve questions that keep you awake at night, haven’t you?

How can we create an engaged online community? HOW? This question couldn’t allow me to sleep.

So, I head to the communities on Reddit, Telegram, Slack, and Discord to get to the bottom of this.

Those communities were around different topics — From little-known tricks in fishing to mechanic keyboards.

Many of them had more than 10 thousand members. But wait, they’re not just members, they’re true fans.

Why? Because (almost) every day there were new posts and a ton of comments. Don’t believe me? Check out one of them here.

As I was scrolling in the list of communities, one of them hooked me. It was called notmycat — a place for sharing stories about cats (of course not about your cat!).

Why did I join?

Well…I felt these folks get me. I felt I already know those people. I felt this is where I belong. And I didn’t see anything like that before.

But I didn’t found the answer to my question. You know, how to build an engaged community isn’t an easy question. So, you cannot figure it out by just asking one why.

Thus, like 5 years old kid, I ask again, WHY? Why did I join?

After a heck of a lot of thinking, slurping tea in my 500ml cup, and (nearly) smacking my head to the wall, here’s what I found.

Building a strong community starts with…

…focus. Yup, that’s what I found.

But, what the heck does that mean?

Let me explain.

You’d say no to many things. You’d narrow down your main topic. And pick a strong idea. You shouldn’t invite just any people. Invite the right people.

Your turn:

  1. Pick a broad topic (e.g., dogs).
  2. List ideas or memorable experiences related to that broad topic and pick one of them (e.g., fur all over the house, stolen foods, early-morning walks in freezing weather, etc).
  3. Just invite a handful of right people who have similar memory like you or believe in the same idea.

So, that’s it? Nope, it’s just the beginning.

Next steps:

  • Set a goal for yourself. And stick to it. For example, every day I want to invite 5 new people to my community. But be careful, invite the right people, not everyone.
  • Share unique content consistently. So, people know what to post and what to expect.
  • Encourage people to invite and join conversations. Even you can incentivize engagement in the early days.

So, go ahead, create your community. And don’t take yourself too seriously, have fun. Okay?

You Rock. 🤘

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The *New* Digital Marketing Advocate