I believe that online communities are the most rewarding type of website you can develop. Nothing can be more satisfying than seeing people interact, finding new friends and enjoying a community that you have created. Even though Just Chat is not a dating site, people have married after meeting there. What could be more rewarding than that? Unfortunately, the majority of online communities will fail – read this article to ensure you don’t meet the same fate.
It takes hard work
The simple fact is, making an online community successful takes hard work – if you aren’t convinced, you can follow my building a new community series to see what I am doing to get my new community established. Remember – nobody wants to join a community without members or content; if you don’t have these, your community will fail.
Easy to start, hard to establish
Online communities fail because they are easy to set up, but tough to make succeed. Want to setup a forum? Installing phpBB is easy to do, and the software is free. Want to start a chat site? ParaChat offers free chat rooms. Want to start a social network? Dolphin is free and easy to install. Unfortunately, the fact that such a wealth of free, easy to use software is out there means people that wouldn’t otherwise be bothered to setup an online community go ahead and try their luck. Most people don’t enjoy the vast amount of luck needed to get a new community off the ground without any effort.
People fail to realise the distinction between setting up an online community, and making it successful. This is why most online communities fail. They fail to realise that besides installing some software, they need to undertake some marketing, they need to create content and they need to work hard to attract members.
Don’t make the same mistake yourself. You are already one step ahead of the majority by reading Community Spark and learning how online communities are successfully developed. I can offer you tips and advice, but I cannot make your community successful – you need to do that yourself, by putting in the required work and effort.
Claiming your community is failing because it has no members is not an excuse. Claiming your community is failing because it has no content is not an excuse. If your site is not attracting members or creating content, you need to put in the work yourself. Create some personas, write good content. Market your website; this needn’t cost you money, but it needs to be done.
Think for the long term
Communities require long term vision to be successful. Don’t give up after a month if things aren’t going right. Don’t even give up after six months. Keep plugging away, work hard, generate content and the visitors will come. When they do, treat them like VIPs to ensure they stay. Once you have attracted members and they are generating content, pat yourself on the back. You are now on the first rung of the community building ladder. Don’t rest on your laurels though, as you can still fail if you don’t continue to pay attention to your community and its members.
Why do you think most online communities fail? Have you given up on a previous project or considering giving up on your current community? Why? Share your thoughts, opinions and experiences by leaving a comment below.