What’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to starting a new community?

The biggest mistake is to think of a virtual community as a mirror of the physical world and immediately look for a ‘space.’ The web is littered with graveyards of dead Slack channels and Facebook groups.

The first step is to ask what is the value that members will derive by being in one place? Do they even want to have conversations with each other? What will those conversations be about? Why will really busy people take the time out to do this?

Often the best way to light the community kindling is to use your social media and email channels for better engagement, and only create an actual community home if you need one.

What tool or platform should I use for community?

Think of tools and platforms as a spectrum. On one end there are the lowest friction platforms where your members are already likely to have an account, like Facebook groups or even Whatsapp. They don’t need to sign up to another app and they know how to use the interface.

For example, media platform, The Better Home, set up a community on Whatsapp, while e-tailer Headphone Zone set up their community on Facebook Groups.

It is not just startups, even The Financial Times, first set up their book club for paying members, FT Cafe on Facebook Groups, because they knew their readers would already be there.

In the middle lie team-collaboration platforms like Slack. These work best for specialised communities, whose members are familiar with their use, because they are likely to use them in a work setting. Communities like The Product Folks for example, successfully run engaged communities on Slack.

Finally, at the other end of the spectrum are new community-focused tools like Circle.so and of course, bespoke community platforms like this one for One Plus.

The platform that is right for you depends on the level of friction vs perceived value for your community. Very few people are motivated enough to be part of a community that requires them to adopt and navigate a new platform.

Our advice is that unless you have very good reason to believe otherwise, start your community in a place that creates the least friction for your members and is a platform they are already using in their daily lives.

Should I use Discord for my community?

We hope you’ve read the above carefully. If you are convinced that you are in a stage where your community is mature enough for a ‘home’, then the next question would be to ask “What is the most natural and easy place for them to gather?”

If many members of your target community are already active on Discord, only then should you give it a go.

You will be setting up a lot of friction if you expect them to start using a new platform just to be part of your community. Building and maintaining a community is hard enough – do not let the platform create an additional hindrance.

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