Community Trends

I was asked about trends and schools of thoughts elsewhere and thought I’d copy in the response I wrote here.

Community and conversations are everywhere - we need to have the mindset of finding, conversing, connecting and helping our people wherever they may be. This is why tools like Common Room, Orbit and Savannah have gained popularity, they try to make sense of the conversations happening everywhere. We can still have our goals of bringing (some) people back to our community home, but it probably doesn’t need to be nearly as many people as we think we need.

Community builders as experts in their niches - I believe that to serve a community you need to be willing to learn and understand the ecosystem you serve. Fundamentally this is about knowing your people so that you can understand how to help them. This means doing active research, connect the dots, building trust, creating solutions for problems. This shouldn’t feel new, but I feel people aren’t talking enough about it.

Community has touch points to potentially every part of the business - this is largely an untapped goldmine. There are valuable conversations happening everywhere, yet often we do nothing with them. We enjoy them in the moment, nod our heads, pat ourselves on the back, but then don’t take action. Other parts of the business will start to appreciate community more when we can figure out ways to feed back relevant information to the appropriate teams. Leads for sales. Pains to product and marketing. Language used to marketing. And so much more!

Community and curation is not considered enough - there’s too much superficial content out there, when really community is primed to help people find relevant content faster. People are always after this kind of stuff. Directories. Articles. Lists. Trends. Not just as one off superficial marketing articles, but a proper deep resource that is easy and reliable to accesss.

The best communities are custom built - I get push back on this a lot. Product Hut & Indie Hackers are great examples. Whilst these have forums as part of their community, the whole community experience is integrated. No separate log ins. One place to access them all. It’s a different kind of commitment, but if we really appreciated and valued community I feel we would custom build our communities more often-the advantage being that each feature is designed with our community in mind. The problem we have is that this doesn’t serve the tool vendors and the tool vendors are still the ones who try to maintain the narrative of our industry.

To build community you don’t have to have a forum - actually a forum is the hardest thing to get off the ground. Communities done well exist and seek ways to help their members wherever they are. I still actually love forums, but I feel most communities should start without them.

Community still feels waterfall-esque - which is why I talk about community discovery, MVCs, community flywheels and related things a lot. We should move away from the general mindset of ‘launching’ and focus more on ‘doing’.

No-code is great - but it also gets messy pretty quickly. All tech does tbh. But it’s worth bearing in mind. I don’t have great answers for this. It’s good to just get going, but this really impacts the community experience.

I’m sure we could make this a much bigger list, what else would you add?

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Yes to all of this. Every day anymore I am comparing Community to Disney World, and community builders are Imagineers. We aren’t hired (or shouldn’t be) to push the button to make the roller coaster go around the track, we’re building entirely new lands in ways nobody has before, filled with attractions that will pull in different people. Not everyone wants a thrill ride, just as not everyone wants another same old forum.

We just finished building Academy on top of our community. Now we’re building events on top of it all. It’s all one giant mingled mess that plugs into every single nook and cranny of our organization (or it will by the time we’re done). That’s how you make a difference for all involved, not sitting on the sidelines as a siloed community domain name.

If the vendor doesn’t have a well built API we can use, I refuse to talk to them. If we have an existing relationship, I’ll ensure it’s ended ASAP because it’s meaningless to me. If the entire experience can’t be seamlessly integrated as one journey, what’s the point.

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This reminds me of the wonderful mess of (community) flywheels.

In my research of flywheels I stumbled across the Disney flywheel. Though I call it a flywheel it is also referred to as their strategy. Strategies are flywheels. :heart:

And actually, I envision Rosieland to be like Disneyland, lol. Very much in its own kind of way, of course.