January 16, 2023

A “minimum viable” Guide to Building a Community

By David D.

Please note that this is a very simplified outline, but it can lead to a successful community.

First and foremost….

Don’t start a community without some type of initial core base of users.

After that, the biggest factor in your success will be the time and effort you put into creating an active and engaging community until the community begins to contribute more than you do.


The basics of choosing a community platform.

  • Purpose: What is the main purpose of your community? Is it for customer support, networking, or discussing a specific topic? Different platforms may be better suited for different purposes.
  • Audience: Who is your target audience? Some platforms may be more popular with certain demographics.
  • Features: What features are important to you? Do you need a platform with built-in moderation tools, or one that integrates well with other tools you use?
  • Scalability: How many users do you expect to have in your community? Some platforms may not be able to handle a large number of users.
  • Price: What is your budget? Some platforms are free, while others have a monthly or annual fee.

It’s a good idea to evaluate a few different options and see which one best meets your needs.

A basic Community Plan…

  • A clear vision or purpose for the community.
  • A clear set of guidelines and rules for community members to follow. (See below)
  • A Single Channel for people to connect in. Don’t be afraid to start small and let the community guide your growth into new topics and categories.
  • Plans to keep that channel active. Basically, a content plan. (See below)
  • A plan for promoting and growing the community. (See below)

A basic Set of Guidelines…

  • Respect others: Treat other members of the community with respect and kindness. This means no bullying, harassment, or discrimination of any kind.
  • Keep it clean: Use appropriate language and avoid posting offensive or inappropriate content.
  • Stay on topic: Keep discussions and posts relevant to the community’s purpose and mission.
  • No spamming: Do not post the same message multiple times or advertise products or services without permission.
  • Do not share personal information: Keep all personal information, such as phone numbers and addresses, private.
  • Follow the law: Do not post anything that violates local, state, or federal laws.
  • Be mindful of others: Be considerate of others’ feelings and experiences, and refrain from sharing content that could be triggering or harmful to others.
  • Be open-minded: Be willing to listen to different perspectives and ideas, and engage in respectful debate when necessary.
  • Be accountable: Take responsibility for your actions and be willing to apologize if you make a mistake.
  • Have fun: Remember that the community is meant to be a positive and enjoyable place for everyone.

A basic Content plan…

  • Regularly scheduled discussions or threads on relevant topics of interest to the community.
  • User-generated content, such as blog posts, videos, or photos, shared by community members.
  • Expert interviews or Q&A sessions with industry leaders or influencers in the community’s niche.
  • Live events, such as webinars, meetups, or online classes, for community members to participate in.
  • Polls and surveys to gather feedback and insights from the community.
  • Collaboration opportunities, such as project or group initiatives, to foster a sense of teamwork and co-creation among community members.
  • And finally, a system for encouraging community engagement and participation, such as rewards programs or recognition for active members.

A basic Growth and Promo plan…

  • Utilize social media platforms to reach a larger audience and drive traffic to the community website.
  • Email marketing campaigns to reach out to potential members and keep existing members engaged. This can be done by sending newsletters, updates, and invitations to events. (Outside of of what the platform itself generates.)
  • Leverage influencers or thought leaders in the community’s niche to reach a wider audience and attract new members. This can be done by inviting them to participate in events, interviews, or Q&A sessions.
  • Collaborate with other communities or organizations that share similar interests or goals to reach a larger audience and attract new members.
  • Optional: Utilize paid advertising such as Google Adwords, Facebook ads or Instagram ads to reach a larger audience and attract new members.

Be thankful…

This is more important than you would think in a new community.

  • Thank you for joining.
  • Thank you for your comment.
  • Thanks for your feedback.
  • Thank you for your post.

I’ll leave you with my favorite “community” quote.

“Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.”

– Howard Thurman
David D.
David D.

Building Online Communities since 1998 | Full Stack Community Professional | Host of Community Live

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