Always cater to the tastes of your community

by Martin Reed on 23 July 2007 in Snippets

A few days ago, I wrote about the importance of getting to know and understand your members. Only by understanding your community will you cater to the needs and wants of your members.

Different people look for, and expect, different things. It is essential that you always cater to the tastes and personality of your community.

Why you need to cater to the tastes of your community

Catering to your communityPeople become members of a community because they feel comfortable interacting in the environment you have provided.

They may enjoy talking about a particular subject, enjoy talking to the type of members your community is attracting, or enjoy the personality of the community.

If you are to retain your members, you need to cater to their tastes. If you know that your members are extremely secular in nature, you should avoid talking about religion. If you know that your members are tree-hugging hippies, then it may not be the best idea to start talking positively about airport expansion in the home counties!

Ignore your members’ tastes and expectations at your own peril

If you appear to be out of touch with your members, they will feel alienated and this can spell disaster for your online community, particularly if it is new and only just starting its journey to getting established.

Remember that your opinions and tastes may not be the same as those of your community members. When I posted a caption contest using women in bikinis as the image, the backlash at my free web hosting site took me completely by surprise.

Remember who is in control of your community

It’s fine to have a sense of ownership of your online community. Never forget who is really in charge, though: your members.

Know and understand your members. Never forget that even though you started the community, your members may have different beliefs, personalities and tastes to your own. Always cater to these before your own.

Share this community building advice


Similar Posts

Previous post:

Next post:


Smiley July 23, 2007 at 9:34 pm

I agree. Infact, I sort of take a bit of a back seat.

I mean, I create content everyday and get involved etc, but I chose two members of the community to moderate the boards, members can relate to other members. They don’t have staff names on the boards, they’re just ordinary members.. with a few responsibilities entrusted to them.

I think this helps, gives members a sense that they are the ones who run the community. Before I make any significant changes to the site or boards etc, I always ask the members.. and go with the majority.

I steer the community into a banterful, light-hearted, jokative direction, and let the few loyal regulars do the rest. Any new users that read the boards etc will get the immediate sense of a laid back, friendly, banterful community.

The only one thing I am strict on, though, is perverts. As I’ve branded it a “perv-free site”. I’m afraid my sword comes down heavy on those just wanting to harass female chatters in PC and MSN.

Michael July 23, 2007 at 9:41 pm

So, what else do you do to get the feel for what your members want? Do polls work? Newsletters with questions?

Marketer Barrera July 23, 2007 at 9:45 pm


Polls & Email Newsletters with 4-5 question polls are great ways to get feedback. The other way to understand your community is to look at your site analytics. You can find out a lot like how people are finding you, which pages are most popular, how long people are spending on certain pages, what paths are most common and lots of other info. You can then develop content around the areas that you identify as important to your users.

Sutocu July 23, 2007 at 9:48 pm

Always be careful when sending email to your community. Take care that it does not appear to be spam.

Smiley July 23, 2007 at 9:57 pm

Interacting with your members is the best way to get the feel of the community, I’d say. Members & I often have friendly banter.. that tells me they have a pretty good sense of humour etc.

Or if you have serious discussions with them, then they’re the serious type.

To me, that’s the best way to get a feel of what they want – whatever kind of conversations etc that they seem to enjoy the most !!

Jay July 23, 2007 at 11:10 pm

I appreciate this article, and would like to suggest a future article with tips of HOW to START a community. That always seems to be the difficult part. Reaching a critical mass where you actually have a community, rather than just stragglers. How do you promote your community?

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 24, 2007 at 2:38 am

Smiley – It is interesting to see you have your moderators continue to use their regular chat names. This can really foster a sense of community (as long as those chatters are happy with constantly being associated with being a staff member!).

You’re right that it’s always a good idea to be aware and pay attention to the thoughts and opinions of your members – particularly when you are planning any changes.

Michael – The best way to get a feel for your members’ tastes is to be involved in your community. Speak to your members and get involved in conversations.

Get to know your members and the general personality of your community – then you will be in a great position to understand and cater to the needs of your members.

Marketer Barrera – I agree that polls can be a good way of getting basic thoughts and opinions from your members. Always remember though, that they only offer limited information – they give you figures for pre-determined options that you have chosen but do not explain the thoughts and ideas behind someone’s decision to choose a particular option.

Additionally, if your site only attracts low visitor numbers then getting an adequate number of respondents for the collected data to be an accurate reflection of the thoughts of your overall community may be a challenge.

This is an interesting area, and one I think I will cover in a future article.

Sutocu – It is essential that you only ever contact members if they have given you explicit permission to do so. Your community members must be able to trust you. I wrote about the importance of only emailing those who give you permission to do so in my article entitled ‘Common email newsletter mistakes‘.

Jay – Thanks for your comment and welcome to the blog. It would be impossible to write a single article detailing how to successfully start a community as there are a number of requirements.

I would recommend you have a look around the archives here, and also check out the ‘Top posts‘ section for some helpful articles that I have already written.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more to come in the future!

Smiley July 24, 2007 at 5:17 am

Yep, they’re fine with it. I keep the boards and the chat separate anyway. The members feel they run the boards, and the official anonymous staff names do all the official representing the site stuff. Not that there’s much of that to do yet, lol, but I like to make sure there’s one around at all times, even if there’s only a dozen people in the chat, it looks good to that dozen if there’s a representative there despite the user numbers! Shows we care, I think.

Jay July 24, 2007 at 2:20 pm

Thanks — I will certainly look around at the entries in your archive!

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 25, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Smiley – You have a pretty unique set up there; I have no doubt that this really differentiates your community from others. Keep coming up with original ideas, and keep hard at work creating content and you’ll be set.

Jay – I am sure you will find some articles of use in the archives. If you want to see an article on a specific area of community building that I haven’t yet covered (or that you want more detail on), just let me know!

Jay July 25, 2007 at 2:41 pm

I appreciate the offer; I’ve been scouring the archives over the past couple days and will continue to do so. I’ve got your RSS feed in Gmail as well. Thanks again for the nice site.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 25, 2007 at 3:17 pm

Jay – I am glad you are finding my blog useful :)

{ 1 trackback }