5 Steps to Start an Online Community

Whether you’re a leader of a non-profit, a blog writer, or a marketing or product or PR guy in any company, you can benefit from building an online community around your cause. How to do that? I have followed several posts about community management from Chris Brogan, Connie Bensen and Jeremiah Owang to come up with the following five steps.

  1. Develop a win-win strategy. You’ll have a better chance to succeed if you know where you’re going. Answer these questions to start with:
    • Product and Unique Value Proposition. What do you offer to the community? What is your product, what unique value does it bring? What is the benefit for the community members to participate? Does it increase their knowledge? Does it raise their self-esteem? Does it make them happy? Etc.
    • Audience. What is the group you are targeting? Where do they hang out, is it Facebook, Twitter, other industry blogs or networks? What is their preferred mode of communication?
    • Competition. What are the other people or organizations that have similar product or target the same audience? Do you want to compete or collaborate with them? How?
    • Goals. What do you want to achieve in the next 3 months, 1 year, 3 years?
    • Measures. How are you going to measure your progress toward goals?
  2. Build your presence and network. If you are anonymous, it will be difficult to grow an online community. Build your presence – start a blog, join social networking sites, comment on other blogs, podcast. Network with your prospective audience and competition.
  3. Listen actively. Once the community starts to grow, make sure you listen to their voice. Allow constructive criticism, facilitate discussions, and let your audience feel they are being heard.
  4. Take action. Everyone likes to see the effects of their contribution. If the community suggests a new feature in your product, go back to the product owner and tell them about it. Bring the news back to the community, especially if the feature is included in the next release. If they ask questions, research on the topic and write quality posts on your blog to satisfy the demand.
  5. Engage community members. Don’t allow your community to get bored and drift away. Be the host, start conversations with an interesting or controversial topic, link up people within your network. Welcome their contributions and provide some value back, link to their blogs, invite guest posts etc.

I want to test this approach and build a community around this blog. If you liked it, I would be happy to read your comments!


19 Responses to “5 Steps to Start an Online Community”

  1. 1 Connie Bensen August 9, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Hi Darek,
    Your 5 points are very valid! Thanks for linking to my blog & also for having it on your blogroll. I’ll be watching as you build your community! Let me know how I can help,


  2. 2 Bufo August 9, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Hello Darek,

    great post and great tips, I’ll certainly try and aply them while building my community in my country.
    Hope your community grows.


  3. 3 teja March 26, 2009 at 4:13 am

    hello darek,

    Its really a great post .It will be certainly a big boost to the people who want to start their community.

    Thanks for this wonderful post.keep going.



  4. 4 Cathy Belyea (@KnowingIsGrowin) January 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    this is great it’s not how to market it but how to build it. I am good with wordpress but it’s the basics, forms, login and registration I really don’t know how to create those. reaching out.

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  1. 1 Community Strategy Links | Connie Bensen Trackback on August 9, 2008 at 1:43 am
  2. 2 online community üzerine 5 tip! http:// … « Trackback on August 11, 2008 at 7:41 am
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