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Five tips to build a community around your startup

Monday, 17 August 2015 | By Venessa Paech
Community management is thriving, particularly in the tech world, where creators are realising that a groundswell of engagement rarely starts on its own.


Here are five simple tips to help you build community around your startup.


Is community the right solution? 

Approach your community as you would your business idea. Your first step is always to diagnose the problem or the need - the user need, not your need to generate momentum around your product. Are there existing communities already serving this purpose? Can you collaborate instead of building from scratch? What type of community model will give you the right outcomes? Lack of diagnosis is a common reason for community building failures.


Community building is not growth hacking

Growth hacking is efficient, tactical, agile and digital first marketing. You can growth hack user acquisition and social media buzz. You can’t growth hack relationship building a community. A community has a sense of unified purpose, influence, trust and belonging, as well as a mix of strong and weak relationship ties. It spans multiple platforms (including real life). It takes time to build up and a framework to sustain. Avoid the ‘big launch’ at all costs.


Let your community share in success

I don’t mean telling them about great stuff you’re doing. When people are able to exert influence they’re more likely to invest their time and goodwill. How can you invite your ‘founding’ members to be part of product creation? Can you create a business model that extends your success to community ambassadors? Let your community inform how the community grows organically.


Let it go 

If you’re a founder with control issues, community probably isn’t for you. Creating the conditions for an engaged community around your product requires a level of co-ownership with that community. You’ll need to be OK with open discussion, people organising their own events, and product feedback that won’t always align with your own.


Look for adjacencies 

A community doesn’t have to literally be about your product or idea. It can be built around things you stand for, the culture or environment you inhabit, or changes you’d like to work toward. Think creatively about how you can spark a community that you and your product are the perfect fit to help facilitate.


Venessa Paech is co-founder of Swarm, Australia’s national community management conference, on September 2-3, 2015 in Sydney.

StartupSmart is giving two lucky readers the chance to win a free ticket to day one of Swarm (workshops not included). Email for your chance to win.

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