A founder’s guide to community: Building a sense of belonging and driving growth

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Hatched by Glasp

Aug 08, 2023

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A founder’s guide to community: Building a sense of belonging and driving growth

Building a community is crucial for any founder looking to create a thriving business. It starts with creating a sense of belonging, where members feel connected and engaged. However, exponential growth happens when members start taking an active role in the community. To align your community with your business objectives, you can use the SPACES model: Support, Product, Acquisition, Contribution, Engagement, and Success.

Support is about creating spaces where customers can help each other by answering questions and solving problems. Product focuses on creating spaces for customers to share feedback and ideas about your product. Acquisition involves building programs to grow your customer base. Contribution enables members to contribute valuable content or services to a platform you create. Engagement connects customers with common interests to increase retention. Lastly, Success focuses on enabling customers to teach each other how to better use your product and be successful in their careers.

In the pre-product-market-fit stage, your goal is likely centered around collecting feedback and insights to solve a clear problem for your customers. At this stage, your community objectives should focus on Acquisition and Engagement. You want to start growing your customer base while providing ongoing support and help to better use your product. Support and Success become key areas of focus here.

One important question that arises is, who should own the community? In startups, it's common for one of the founders to take ownership of the community initially. This allows the founder to stay close to customers and be as hands-on as possible. When hiring your first community member, look for someone with genuine curiosity about the topic your community is built around.

It's important to note that community isn't solely about being a people person and driving engagement. Many community professionals also function in operational capacities. They play a crucial role in creating community-level goals that align with your business-level goals. Programs are the means to connect your members to each other, whether through forums, Slack, Discord, or other platforms. The success of these programs can be measured using three key elements: activity, value, and belonging.

Launching a community is akin to hosting a party. Just like you wouldn't invite everyone to your house and then prepare everything, you want to make sure everything is set up before people arrive. Your community's pre-party is crucial because it sets the tone for how members will interact with each other. Start small, with 10 to 50 members, and ask them to seed quality content and conversations. This sets an example for new members to follow.

Avoid the common mistake of going too big too fast when launching a community. By doing so, you miss out on shaping the cultural mold and provide a worse experience for your members. They'll feel lost in the noise and overwhelmed. Instead, keep the number of channels or topics to a minimum initially. Once you've nailed the model, there's no limit to how big you can scale it.

Now, let's delve into the topic of collecting things and explore the reasons behind it. One psychoanalytical explanation suggests that collecting is a way for unloved children to seek comfort and fill a void. By accumulating belongings, they find solace. Another explanation is that collecting is driven by existential anxieties. Collecting becomes an extension of our identity, ensuring that a part of us lives on even after we're gone.

Evolutionary theorists propose that collecting is a way for individuals, particularly men, to attract potential mates by showcasing their ability to accumulate resources. It becomes a form of signaling. Moreover, the endowment effect plays a role in our tendency to value things more once we own them. This unique human behavior drives us to collect items purely for the satisfaction of seeking and owning them.

In conclusion, building a community starts with creating a sense of belonging and aligning it with your business objectives. By incorporating the SPACES model, you can drive growth and ensure that your community serves its purpose. It's important to start small when launching a community, allowing for the shaping of cultural norms and providing an excellent experience for your members. When it comes to collecting things, various psychological and evolutionary explanations shed light on our motivations. Whether it's seeking comfort, addressing existential anxieties, or signaling our ability to accumulate resources, collecting becomes a part of our identity and a source of satisfaction.

Actionable advice:

  • 1. Clearly define your community goals that align with your business objectives. This will guide your community strategy and ensure that it serves a purpose.
  • 2. Start small when launching a community and focus on quality over quantity. This allows you to shape the cultural mold and provide a better experience for your founding members.
  • 3. Encourage active participation and value creation within your community. This can be achieved by providing opportunities for members to contribute content, services, or valuable insights.

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