What does a powerful community look like in practice? Last time, we discussed what online communities are, and why they are important. But what factors should I be looking for when it comes to building and maintaining a community? As with any project worth doing, it’s important to have a barometer for success. How do we define the community we want to build? Let us introduce you to the 4 Pillars of a Successful Community.
Successful communities thrive on community engagement and support. A community is nothing if it doesn’t communicate effectively. The onus is on the community management to build a place that is easy to communicate within, and that drives communication on a regular basis. A healthy community talks regularly, which not only helps keep the conversation moving, or keeps algorithm metrics up, but it helps keep people coming back to participate in the conversation. If you ever sense a major lull in conversation, it’s important to try to get people talking again. This can be as simple as posing a discussion question, or even creating a regular posting pattern. For an example of the latter, one of our Discord mods, Mirabaar, posts a “Snapple-top fact” every evening, which at worst, breaks the silence. At best, we can sometimes end up talking about it for hours. Regardless, if the community is at least talking, chalk that up for a win in this column.
Successful communities come together for a common ground. At the end of the day, it’s important to build some sort of common ground to drive conversation. This can be different for every community, but people need some reason to show up. For example, a facebook group about a specific anime might initially attract fans of that show to show up and discuss it. They might stick around and discuss other related topics, but it was the anime that brought them in. Now, if you run a successful group, they may stick around even if that initial common ground isn’t relevant. One community member we spoke with told us that they once joined a newborn photography group on Facebook, as it was relevant to their job at the time. They haven’t worked in that field in years, but stick around, because they enjoy the people in that group. Another great example are the several community members we have in our own discord, who joined as streamers and Noname Nerd Affiliates, but no longer stream or participate in the program. They still hang out, because they enjoy the community. If people are doing this in your community, you must be doing something right.
Successful communities are diverse in many ways. Now, at face value, this sounds like we mean standard diversity metrics, such as race, creed, sexuality, etc. And while we do value that kind of diversity, it is only one small part of this pillar. While we do want a general common ground that we discuss, discussion dies if there is not a diversity of opinion and experiences. For a long time, our discord was mostly streamers. But, within that group, we hosted streamers of all backgrounds. We had a ton of gamers, across every single platform, and every single genre. We had streamers from every major content platform as well, including people who didn’t stream, but rather put out content on platforms like YouTube and TikTok. So, even within that narrow slice of the gaming pie that is streamers, we had a great bit of differences to talk about. Since then, we’ve added diversity by adding other major user groups, like NFT fans, as well as trying to appeal to general nerds who just want to hang out and talk about nerd stuff. So, while it is important to come together for a common ground, it is equally important to have diversity of opinion.
Successful communities are well regulated. It is absolutely critical to have a well-moderated community, if you intend to foster growth. Group members want a comfortable, consistent place to enjoy community. Now, the subject of community moderation could easily be its own article, or even its own series, but the basics are simple. You need to set out a list of group rules, designed both to keep your community members safe, but also to keep your space a fun place to be. Once you create those rules, it’s important to enforce those rules evenly and fairly, to create a consistent, safe space that your community members feel comfortable returning to again and again. We also recommend starting to find people to help you moderate the community once it reaches at least a few dozen members. If you create an environment where people feel safe and can enjoy community, you’re winning in this category.
Creating a community can be a daunting task, but it is manageable. Just make sure to follow our 4 Pillars: focus on engagement, find a common ground, promote diversity in thought, and regulate it well. If you can accomplish all four of those tasks, you’ll have a healthy community on your hands! Want to see a great community in action? Check out our Discord and Facebook groups! Not already a member? Grab the links to our communities at NerdsBelongHere.com! And as always, stay tuned to this blog for more great tips and tricks!